It may sound counterintuitive to look back to figure out how to move forward in your business, but now is the time to take stock in what you know to be true. Looking back to move forward has been my theme lately because where I’ve been will help inform where I’m going. When I think about where I started in 2002 and where I’ve been over the last 18 years, there are a lot of lessons from my past that can be applied to my future plans.
I started my small business without any customers, without a storefront and without the business acumen I have now. If I could do that – start a business in my early 20s with little more than a Swiss Army knife and a passion for floristry – then certainly I can cultivate what I’ve learned and refocus it on a plan to rebuild as I move ahead.
With technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget what it was like before we were so connected and everyone had a platform. Before social media we had to actually “do business” in order to get more business. You couldn’t just start an Instagram account and add stock photos to make it “look like you’re in business.” (Florists didn’t do inspiration shoots; we actually sold flowers.) And the idea of a visual search engine like Pinterest is something florists couldn’t even have dreamed of.
There are many things we cannot control as we move forward in business, so let’s focus on three things we can control for now.
First of all, MIND-SET. The thing I have the most control over right now is my own mind-set, and it’s my responsibility to stay focused on what’s ahead. As tempting as it may be to dwell on difficulties in this moment, I know that it serves me better to think forward.
For example, as a wedding-focused florist, I should plan that events will be smaller for the foreseeable future. This means I’ll probably need to rethink my minimum spend on events. I can’t reasonably expect clients to spend $5,000 on flowers for a family-only wedding with less than 30 guests; however, when I look back, I know I’ve done flowers for a 35-person wedding at $3,000 before.
Thinking back to that past experience allows me to see how I might sell this concept for future events. “We’ll transform the space to make it an exceptional experience for your family and friends; nothing over the top but very tasteful and elegant to create the intimate setting you envision.” I built my business on small events, after all.
After mind-set, the next thing we can control is MARKETING. It will be vital to focus on the way we talk to our customers and social media followers as we forge ahead. Customer confidence and convenience will be our strengths.
Ask yourself: How can florists make it even easier for customers to buy flowers? Can you enroll customers in a subscription delivery service to ensure they have beautiful flowers year-round? How can you clearly communicate that you’re looking out for them with your steps and procedures along the way?
And what reassurances will customers need moving forward when they book your services for a wedding or special event?
Finally, last, but not least, you can control your SPENDING. One thing you may have recognized recently is what’s essential to keeping your business engine running and what you can let go of in order to run leaner. Which expenses can you afford to cut?
For example, your website and your email lists have undoubtedly been your most valuable tools for connecting with clients, as well as communicating your marketing/branding messages. If clients can easily order and pre-order online, and you can contact them via email with important offers and updates, you know that these are services you must continue to invest in and maintain.
On the other hand, there may be services or subscriptions that you have to cancel in order to cut expenses from now on.
REMEMBER: Saving money is like making money because if you don’t spend it, you get to keep it.
As an entrepreneur, you know there is always uncertainty in business – although now, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. While we may not want our businesses to look like they did in the past, we can draw upon those experiences to reinvent, re-imagine, rebuild, reshape and become even more resilient.Keep moving forward so you can keep doing beautiful work! I’ll be moving forward with you, too.