Hey hey! Welcome to this episode of the Biz Balance Podcast! I’m your host Karen Greenoe and I have a question for you. Have you ever thought about pivoting your business? Maybe something as simple as offering a new product or service or maybe completely turning your business on its head and doing something totally different? Well, today’s guest did just that. Sarah Hinton was a successful floral designer in southern California for a years and years when she realized that she, and the floral design industry as a whole, was working far harder than they needed to on the backend of their business. She knew there had to be a better solution than massive and complicated pricing spreadsheets or worse yet, flying by the seat of your pants and hoping that you’re profitable when the end of the year rolled around. I am so excited that you get to join us on this conversation and I won’t make you wait any longer! Here’s her story!
I started at 15 hocking flowers from flower stands in Santa Barbara and opened my first shop at 25. I had just had my first baby and lost her mother at the same time so I was doing my best at balancing grief and business. Needed the creative energy to help her get over her grief. My flower shop gave me that. And I could bring my baby to work!
As the business grew and my team grew, I was generating a decent amount of profit but I would look around at the end of the year and be like “where the heck did it all go?” Planning and ordering was such a challenge and I made some very expensive mistakes.
To try to make it more manageable, I built a crazy big excel spreadsheet with tons of pricing formulas but the bigger things got, the more mistakes were made.
Two big things happened…and I cannot believe I am going to admit this but…
I almost forgot a wedding! The mother of the bride contacted me the week of the wedding and said “Sarah, we’re so excited about the wedding flowers! We just know it’s going to be beautiful!” You’d better believe, I PANICKED! But, fortunately, we have so many amazing local flowers and markets here in California so we were able to get everything we needed. We pulled it off! But we were in full blown panic the whole time.
Crisis number two…I thought one wedding had booked, but they never did. I reached out to the bride the week of the wedding and she said “Uhh, Sarah…we never booked you!” I’d ordered the flowers and everything. The humiliation was worse than the money spent!
I knew there had to be a better way. I met with a friend who was savvy with databases to see if they could create something together. She took one look at my crazy excel sheet and told me it was far outside of her wheelhouse. I realized that I needed a full out program. So I started looking into it. The only problem was that the quotes I got back were as expensive as a house!
When I was going through a website rebuild, I found someone who could build a system. We partnered together and launched first beta version in 2014.
It was tough in those early days. No one had ever heard of software for floral designs and I’ll be honest, no one wanted it. I literally couldn’t give it away for free to my florist friends. No one had heard of a creative leveraging technology in order to grow their business!
The first year we used the software in my own business, we saw a time savings of 70% and a monetary savings of 20% at least!
*Technology is your friend! When you embrace and leverage technology to further our creative endeavors, beautiful things happen!
Relying on our human brains to keep track of all of these details is not the smartest investment of your time!
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that I’m not good at everything, I shouldn’t do everything and I should be allowed to do everything!
Karen: What would you have done differently knowing what you know now if you had to start all over again?
Sarah: I would look for resources outside of my cofounder and I. What does the software industry include? What does it not include? I had no idea that there was a startup culture out there and people that were willing to invest in new software. Pushing our development runway more aggressively.
Karen: What are you most excited about either in your business or in the industry in general?
Sarah: The culture is changing. When I first started, it was very closed doors, very back-stabey. But I’m seeing that change. Entrepreneurs are supporting each other, sharing their stories and their wisdom. It’s a beautiful thing!
Follow along with Sarah and BloomTrac!
February 3, 2020