With over 22,000 florist shops nationwide in a $7 billion industry, there is a lot of competition for a new entrepreneur. However, no major companies dominate the industry - the top 50 companies hold a mere 6 percent of the overall marketplace. Most flower shops link into national services such as FTD and Teleflora to level the playing field and allow the small business owner to get into the game.
Start With Passion
The most important piece of your flower shop, beyond refrigeration units, fresh flowers, and a good pair of scissors, is you. Customers entering your shop do not come just looking for flowers, they want expertise. Repeat customers will be the lifeblood of your business, and you want them to know they received the best advice and most skillfully arranged flowers they could find anywhere. Your industry knowledge and innovative floral skills need to excite and comfort your customers, allowing them to feel confident about coming to you the next time they make a floral purchase.
Education and Experience
While a formal education in floriculture is not a must, it would be helpful if you had a few years of experience working in another flower shop, or perhaps serving as a volunteer at your local garden club - anywhere you can practice the art of floral arrangement. You'll also need a solid understanding of business management. You need not be an MBA but you should develop a solid business plan before proceeding. Your local small business association can help, as can books from the local library. Remember, too, you will be dealing with not just balance sheets and bulbs but real people, so make sure you are comfortable and confident in dealing with whoever might wander into your store.
What You Will Need
Once you have chosen your location, whether it be on a busy street in your community, in a strip mall, or in your own home, you will need to set up your shop. Your first order of business is finding a florist service such as those mentioned above. You’ll need to find a refrigeration system, including display and storage coolers. Prices range from $1,500 to over $3,500. You will need to stock your store with a range of common and exotic flowers for a variety of floral arrangements. You might want to compare prices with local growers over national distributors. You might find a niche with seasonal, locally grown flowers or other fresh plants. You’ll also need to stock floral supplies such as vases, ribbons, baskets, and other common supplies. You can also earn income through secondary products such as cards for special occasions, wedding, bridal shower, and baptism accessories, garden ornaments such as bird baths, and other floral-themed gifts.
You will also need labor to run this business. At first, you might want to recruit family and friends before entering into arrangements with full-time and part-time help. Finally, you’ll want to order business cards and stationery.