How to Open a Flower Shop

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Whether flowers are needed for a wedding, a funeral, or as part of that perfect gift for the one you love, somewhere a florist is behind every arrangement you see. If you have an eye for detail, a creative nature, and a desire to own your own business, then you may want to consider starting a flower shop. While you’ll need some creativity and design skills, you can start up your own flower shop on a smaller scale, making this a type of business that is accessible to many entrepreneurs. 

Business Overview

Flower shops provide flowers and arrangements for a variety of uses, from funerals and memorials to weddings and more. Florists also fill many smaller orders of bouquets and smaller arrangements that are given as gifts or for special occasions. Flower shop owners must source a variety of flowers, stock different ribbons, vases, and wraps, and have the skill and creativity to arrange flowers so that they are attractive – all while also managing other business tasks like marketing, customer service, and more. 

Industry summary

Though an IBIS World report, a number of factors have contributed to a decline in the floral industry from 2014 to 2019. During those five years, the industry declined by 1.8%, resulting in a predicted total revenue of $7 billion for 2019. The number of businesses declined by 1.9% to 32,402 businesses, and the number of employees also declined by 2.1%. In 2019, the floral industry’s employment should be 74,915. 

This overall decline is prompted by factors such as mass merchandisers and online retailers who offer flowers at discounted rates. With fewer people purchasing flowers directly from flower shops, the overall competition in the industry has increased, leading to a decline in overall revenue. IBIS World also notes that flower purchases often increase with higher consumer spending, since they’re frequently bought along with cards and gifts. The good news is that consumer spending is expected to increase in 2019, and this could lead to an increase in the floral industry revenue. 

Industry trends

Instagram has played a significant role in changing the flower industry. Because Instagram can spread trends so quickly and to such a large volume of people, floral ideas and trends that would otherwise exist in a small area of the country can rapidly gain traction. This means that customers may make requests for new trends from their florists and the florists need to be able to adapt and keep pace with these evolving trends. 

Who is the target market for your flower shop?

Flower shops tend to have a large and varied target market. Adult gift givers make up a large portion of a flower shop’s business, especially around holidays like Valentine’s Day. Other potential markets include funeral parlors and their clients, couples who are getting married, and even high schoolers who need corsages for proms. 

Skills, experience, and education useful in running a flower shop

Running a flower shop doesn’t require a business degree, but the following skills and experiences are helpful in starting and managing the business. 

Floral experience. Experience working in a floral shop or department can be an advantage in starting up a shop of your own. Familiarity with different types of flowers, their care, and the techniques used in arranging them can eliminate some of the learning curve when starting up a floral shop. 

An eye for design. Understanding how to pair colors, why certain types of flowers work well together, and how to design an arrangement so that it looks its best are all skills that allow florists to create professional products that draw customers into a store. Design skills are also important in marketing a flower shop, especially when it comes to photographing arrangements so that they look their best. 

Creativity. Whether it’s selecting a variety of flower types to stock in the shop or coming up with a new type of arrangement, creativity is a valuable skill to have when owning and running a flower shop. 

Customer service skills. Experience and talent in working with customers – and keeping them happy – is also important in this industry. Attention to detail and the willingness to always make sure that a customer is happy can lead to positive reviews and valuable repeat customers. 

Business skills. You don’t necessarily need a business degree to start a flower shop, but some business skills are definitely necessary. Flower store owners need to be able to maintain inventory, calculate prices, market their businesses, and more. If you don’t yet have the business skills needed, taking some business classes can help prepare you for what to expect in running your business. 

Financial Overview

Flower stores require relatively little funding to start when compared to other types of retail businesses. The cost to start a flower shop typically ranges between $10,000 to $50,000, plus the cost of real estate if it is being purchased rather than leased. 

Common startup costs for a flower shop include:

  • Refrigerators to extend the life of floral inventory
  • Renovations to the retail space as a bright and clean space is important to customers
  • Store signage
  • Delivery vehicle if your shop will deliver flowers
  • Initial inventory
  • Supplies  

Working capital

A flower store needs working capital to stay in business. Working capital funds inventory purchases and keeps the business operating. Because you can start a floral business on a small scale from home, your initial working capital doesn’t have to be as high as you would need with a traditional storefront. 

How much can you potentially make owning a flower shop?

In 2019, the floral industry is predicted to bring in a total revenue of $7 billion. According to PayScale, floral managers make an average salary of $40,739 per year. BizFluent reports that, as of 2017, the typical medium-sized flower shop that was just starting out produced an average income of $40,000 for its owner. 

Keep in mind that many factors influence a flower shop’s profits, and as a store is in business for a longer period of time, it’s likely to bring in increased profits. Other factors affecting profits include how many staff a store employs, the store’s geographic and physical location, whether the store offers delivery services, and the number and location of competing stores, including grocery stores and big box retailers. Establishing relationships with local wedding venues and funeral homes can lead to significant business, increasing profits, too. 

Steps to Starting a Flower Shop

Step 1. Write your Business plan

After coming up with a business idea, the next step in starting any business should be to write business plan.  Not only will a bank require you to have one in order to get funding, but multiple studies have shown that a business plan helps increase the odds of starting a successful business. A well thought out flower shop business plan will serve the entrepreneur as the road map for their business, helping them achieve their business goals.

How to write a business plan
Free sample business plans

Step 2. Form a Business Entity

A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized. There are four primary business entities to choose from which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and LLC.  Each type of entity has its own pros and cons such as liability exposure, costs and administrative requirements.

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Step 3. Select your Location

It’s generally beneficial for a flower shop to be located in higher-traffic locations which typically equates to high rent or purchase price.

Lease costs vary according to the store size and location. While it is possible to start up a flower shop out of a home, having a storefront in a busy location can help to build awareness of the shop and makes it easier for customers to stop in to pick up purchases. 

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 4. Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

The types of business licenses, permits and registrations that will be required to start a business vary on the activities of the business in addition to where it is located.

License and permit requirements for flower shops vary depending on location.  Louisiana is the only state to regulate retail florists through the Department of Agriculture & Forestry.  Individual towns and cities may have additional regulations. 

Some of the common local, state and federal registrations for a flower shop will usually include a sales tax permit (or resale permit), Employer Identification Number, and Occupancy Permit among others. 

Related: Common business licenses, permits and registrations by state

Step 5. Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a flower shop is another.  Fortunately, the cost to start a Floral business can be relatively low, with a majority of the costs going towards remodeling, coolers, display cases, signage and inventory.  Funding for a new start-up can be difficult as banks are typically going to want the borrower to have good credit and be able invest 15-25% of their own money.

Related: Finding the money to start a business  

Step 6. Get your Marketing Ready

Marketing is essential to start and grow a flower shop. Many marketing efforts can be done on a small budget, such as by getting active on social media and by establishing an email marketing program. Additional marketing strategies include print and radio advertising, targeted internet ads, mailing flyers and coupons, and more. Marketing costs vary depending on the particular methods and the size of the marketing effort. 

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 7. Obtain Insurance

Floral shops need a few different types of insurance in order to be fully covered and protected: 

  • General liability insurance is necessary to pay for medical bills and potentially lawsuit expenses if a customer is injured in the store
  • Commercial property insurance covers business owners in case inventory, equipment, or the store itself is damaged in a fire or other event
  • Workers comp insurance is a must if a flower store has employees, and helps to cover lost wages or medical bills if employees are injured
  • Car insurance covers a delivery vehicle in the case of an accident (for flower shops that offer deliveries).  Often times, personal auto policies won’t cover the costs should the accident happen while being used for business purposes. 

Insurance costs vary according to the value of a store’s equipment and inventory, the number of employees, and even a store’s location. Other factors, like desired coverage limits and deductibles, can also affect insurance premiums. It is best to request quotes from multiple insurance companies and carefully compare them to determine the plan that offers the best coverage at the best rates. 

Step 8. Hiring Employees

Depending on the size and productivity of a flower shop, employees may be needed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, floral designers make an average of $27,200 per year. Additional expenses, such as paid time off, health insurance contributions, and worker’s comp insurance may be necessary if a store employs staff. 

You may start out as the only person working in your Flower shop, however it’s important at some point to bring on employees as retail hours are typically long and you will need a break or time off if you are sick.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Things to Consider Before Starting a Flower Shop

If you have a passion for floral arrangements and design, opening a flower shop may sound like the ideal business venture. But just like other types of businesses, flower shops bring some risks and challenges. 

One challenge of owning a flower business is that the inventory spoils and dies. With retail stores, inventory sitting on the shelves just takes up space and eats into the business’ working capital, but in a flower shop, too much inventory means lost money and lost product. Some types of flowers live longer than others, and being able to properly care for the flowers in the shop can help to prolong their lives. This can be a steep learning curve, so try to find an experienced florist who can advise you, or gain some experience working in a flower shop before venturing out on your own. 

Certain times of the year, especially those times surrounding major holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, are very busy for flower shops. Other times of the year can be very slow. Finding a way to branch out into other services, such as establishing the shop as the go-to shop for local memorial services and funerals, can increase income year-round, helping a store to get through those slow times. Creative marketing and specializing in particular types of flowers, such as arrangements for weddings, can also help to position a flower shop well in the local community, driving sales. 

Speaking of peak times during the year, florists are challenged by having trained staff to complete orders.  Some will have a network of family and friends that will pitch in, however this can be a risky strategy to rely on.  It’s essential to get your product out on time and looking it’s best. 

Since customers are often purchasing flowers for a special occasion, consider adding other gift items to generate additional upsells. 

Though there are absolutely some challenges in starting a flower shop, it can also be a rewarding and exciting venture. 

American Institute of Floral Designers
Society of American Florists