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How to start a successful flower business 

How to start a successful flower business

Key takeaways

  • Raise your business profile by honing your knowledge of floral care and floral design through classes and certifications
  • Selling at farmer’s markets or offering flower delivery services online can minimize your flower shop’s overhead
  • Contact your city and county governments to verify the business licenses or permits you need to sell fresh cut flowers in your area

Fresh cut flowers are not just a simple pleasure: They’re big business. The global cut flowers market is worth over $41 billion and is projected to grow by 4% through 2028. Whether people buy flowers to celebrate a special occasion, commemorate a loved one,  or decorate their homes, the floral industry plays a significant role in brightening the daily lives of millions. 

Opening a floral shop allows you to create beauty and fill the growing demand for fresh flowers in your local market—and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Follow these eight steps to learn how to start a flower business that will grow into a thriving, community staple.

1. Hone your floristry skills

Running your own flower shop is only possible with the right skills and training. Without proper care, cut flowers start wilting after a few days, which can lead to costly wasted inventory.

Research best practices online by reading tips from the websites of professional florists, then put your knowledge into practice until you’re confident in your skills. Try shadowing a florist, taking a class, or volunteering at a local floral shop.

In addition to learning how to care for different flower species, you’ll need to hone your floral design skills to put together bouquets and other floral arrangements for your clients. To raise your profile, you can pursue certifications through trusted organizations, such as the American Institute of Floral Designers. Becoming a Certified Floral Designer (CFD) requires you to take online or local courses with approved floristry schools, pass an exam with experts who score your designs, and pay a $164 fee. Promoting your certified status could help you garner new customers when marketing your small business.

2. Choose your business location

One of the advantages of starting a flower business is the opportunity to profit even without a storefront. While traditional flower shop business owners invest in brick-and-mortar locations, you can also run your small business from home. 

For instance, if you take delivery orders from an online store or sell flowers at farmer’s markets, you can craft your flower arrangements from home. There’s no need to sign a lease or take on a mortgage, which significantly raises your start-up costs.

However, there are perks to a brick-and-mortar location. A physical storefront can attract foot traffic and help you build a trusted brand in your community. Micro-farmers who work off their land and sell flowers directly to businesses or consumers are also gaining ground in the industry, as more people are interested in supporting local agriculture. 

3. Define your target market

Florist tying a beautiful bouquet of flowers

When you’re competing against other flower shops, one of the best ways to stand out is by catering to a specific target market. Instead of offering a little of everything, identify a group of consumers whose needs you can meet. For instance, if your business purchases from fair trade suppliers, you can target consumers who not only value ethical business practices and sustainability, but are also willing to pay a higher price point.

Your target market doesn’t have to be a consumer market. Your floral business can also act as a wholesale supplier for grocery stores, hospitals, event planners,  and other businesses that sell your products to consumers at a markup.

Read more about defining your target market and how to best reach those consumers. 

4. Choose a business name

Great business names are memorable and give shoppers an idea of what you do. Rather than selecting a generic name like “Beautiful Flowers,” opt for a business name that highlights what makes your brand unique. For instance, New York City florist Nic Faitos chose the name Starbright Floral Design to signal that his bouquets are a refined, artistic way to brighten someone’s day. “I took a product that was in some ways, sadly at the time, treated like a sack of potatoes, just thrown around, and elevated it to where it deserved and needed to be,” he said on Behind the Review in 2020.

Before you settle on a brand name, conduct a business name search on your state agency’s website and a trademark search through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Legal business names must be unique from trademarked names, as well as the names of similar businesses in your state.

Next, use a tool like Namechk to determine if your ideal business name is available as a domain name for your small business website or social media handles, which can make your company easier to find.

5. Identify your startup costs

When you’re starting a new business, you have to front a number of costs in order to launch. For instance, florists might need to purchase delivery vehicles and supplies like floral coolers and flower buckets. Make a list of the startup costs you expect to cover. This way, you know how much you need to save before you launch or whether you need to pursue outside financing, such as a business loan.

Additionally, make a list of your necessary monthly expenses, which may include rent, inventory (such as flowers and vases), gas, and your water bill. Include this information in your financial analysis as you begin drafting your business plan to keep your business idea on track.

6. Register your business

Navigating the business registration process is a key step in starting a florist business. To legally operate your company, you may need to register with your state agency by completing an online application and paying a filing fee (no more than $300 in most states.)

If you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you don’t need to register with your state agency. But most flower shop owners must still register with the IRS by applying for an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN allows you to open a business bank account, apply for a business credit card, and access other types of loans.

To ensure your flower shop is compliant, contact your local governments (including your city and county government) to determine which business licenses or permits you need. For instance, if you’re operating in the state of Louisiana, you may need a retail florist license and a cut flower dealer permit.

7. Design your first floral arrangements

How to start a flower business: Florist arranging roses

While you can always take custom orders from clients, most local florists have a number of pre-made floral arrangements that make purchases fast and easy. Create a few floral arrangements for common occasions, keeping in mind the types of flowers your customers might need. For instance, lilies are often used for funerals, while roses are popular for dates.

You can then price each of your products, as well as your custom arrangement and delivery services. Start by doing market research and create a pricing structure that incorporates human behavior as well as business costs. 

8. Market your floral business

Once your physical flower shop or online business is up and running, create a marketing plan to attract potential customers. Identify the marketing channels and tactics you’ll use to reach your target market

For example, you could try these ideas to build an effective strategy:

  • Partner with wedding planners, funeral homes, and other related businesses that can recommend your company to clients
  • Claim your Yelp Business Page, and update it with accurate business information and high-quality images of your floral arrangements to attract leads
  • Share floral care and design tips on social media to improve your credibility and gain followers and reach potential customers through word of mouth

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Bring your flower shop to life

If you’re looking for an opportunity to launch a local business without spending a fortune, starting a flower business may be exactly what you need. 

The floral industry is a multibillion-dollar market that gives you the flexibility to run your business from a variety of locations—your home, a store, or even a micro-farm. Work toward your launch by honing your floristry skills, identifying your target market, and budgeting for your startup costs. Then register your business and start marketing your brand.

If you’re considering starting a wholesale flower company, research marketing strategies for the business-to-business market to learn how selling to other brands differs from selling to consumers.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.