Many occasions call for flowers. Whether it's a formal wedding or a high school dance, floral designers are often called upon to make an occasion more elegant and festive. Starting a floral-design business from home can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. Floral arranging is a creative endeavor that provides a great deal of artistic satisfaction. A well-established floral arranger can have a successful business, regardless of whether the business operates from home or in a retail setting.
Things You Will Need
Business permits and licenses
Arrangement designs and plans
Taking Care of Business
Check with your City or County Clerk's office to find out what types of business permits are needed. In most cases, you will only need to obtain local permits and licenses, since floral arranging is not a state- or federally-regulated business. While at the clerk's office, ensure that operating a home-based business will not violate any local zoning ordinances. Also apply for a license to "Do Business As" commonly known as a DBA license. This is important if you plan to use a business name other than your own. Once you have all of these documents in place, you will also need to obtain a tax ID number for your business.
Choose your product. There are two main types of floral arranging businesses. The first type uses fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can be a good option if you have a large supply on hand, or if you can obtain large supplies inexpensively. A relatively wide range of consumers can be included in the target market for fresh flowers. On the downside, however, fresh flowers are perishable. This fact will inevitably lead to some loss of inventory, and a potential decrease in overall profits.
Artificial flowers are non-perishable, making them a good choice for small businesses that have not yet established a large clientele. On the other hand, artificial flowers are not as marketable as fresh flowers. The up-front cost of artificial flowers can also be a problem when first starting a home-based business.
Locate suppliers. Regardless of whether you decide on artificial or fresh flowers, you will need to select, order, receive and store merchandise for your business. Once you have a tax ID number, you will be able to order products and supplies at wholesale cost, from various local and national distributors. Before selecting a supplier, compare inventory, prices, shipping practices and refund policies.
Once you have placed your first order, you will need to have a location set aside for storing your inventory. If you are using fresh flowers, they should be kept refrigerated, in order to keep them from expiring.
Plan your arrangements. Floral designer and former business owner Kim Fanin of Carolina Silks warns against copying existing flower arrangements. "Most flower arrangements that you see in boutiques and retail outlets are copyrighted," she says, "so you can't just go home and copy those." Kim suggests that you come up with several pieces of your own that you really like, then work on marketing those pieces. She also suggests that you take pictures of your original pieces. "Write down the elements that you use in each piece, so that when you need to duplicate it, you have a record to refer to."
Establish partnerships. Kim Fanin began her floral design shop from her North Carolina home. "When I first started, I went to some of the local furniture stores and asked to design arrangements for them." Since Fanin worked primarily with silk flowers, her floral arrangements were able to remain on display in several local furniture outlets. "I designed pieces that complemented the different furniture styles," she explains. "When someone bought furniture, my floral arrangements were offered at discounted rates."
Whether you use silk or fresh flowers in your floral arrangements, establishing local partnerships can help get your business off the ground. Team up with bridal boutiques or local gift stores. Talk with churches and non-profit organizations about doing the floral arrangements for banquets and fundraising events. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce and stay in touch with upcoming community functions and locally-organized events. Interior decorators, home stagers, and real estate agents can also be good partners to team up with.