Hello and welcome to yet another episode of Coffee Wine & Flowers podcast!
Today, I am sharing with you my best kept secret. If you’ve listened to past episodes, I’ve shared with you that there were some discoveries I made a few years into my business that came as good news and really changed my whole way of thinking. One of them specifically was the idea that I could build and craft my own ideal business, and reverse engineer the steps to help me generate enough income to support my goals and dreams.
Today, I want to dig into this a bit further because when it comes to crafting your ideal business and life, I really believe that these are the foundational building blocks for getting you from point A to point B. Once we reach a place where our business takes off, we easily get sucked into a whirlwind and it starts a chain of reactions. And naturally, our patterns of activity and our decision making can become quite chaotic without a framework underpinning our process and our decisions as a business owner.
So in today’s episode, I want to walk you through what it means to truly be in the driver seat of your business and how to design a business model that will lead you towards your goals.
I want to start off by saying that as I share these strategies with you today, I don’t mean for this to imply that I’ve “made it” or that as I sit here today, I’ve achieved all of my wildest dreams and goals that I could ever imagine for myself. When I speak of working towards your dreams and goals, I don’t believe there is ever necessarily a point where any of us can feel that we’ve “made it” – and that’s not to say that we can never be content or satisfied, but just that it’s good to always have new goals and a sense of direction. Often times after we achieve something, the line moves and there is a new goal we would like to meet. I believe this is what keeps us moving forward and it’s good to always keep a growth mindset because that allows us to constantly better ourselves. So as I share with you this “roadmap to success” I want you to know that success is sometimes fluid, and it has its own meaning to every individual.
So, with that being said, let’s dive into the episode!
Today I’m going to be talking about building a roadmap to success. As I said, success has many different definitions. So if you’re taking notes, or even taking mental notes while listening to this, go ahead and just cross out the word success, and fill in the blank with whatever success means to you. Whether it’s freedom, more time, a thriving business, or whatever else success may look like to you in your mind today. And allow that to evolve as time goes on (remember, success is different for everyone and different for every season of life).
STEP 1 – IMAGINE THE LIFE YOU DESIRE
Step one in building your roadmap to [insert your version of success here] is to imagine the life you desire.
If you’ve listened to all of my episodes you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of knowing your destination. It’s important to know or at least have an idea of where we want to end up so that this can guide our actions and our decisions and help us find a more direct path to our dreams. If you start a business and you don’t really know why you started it or what you’d like for it to become in the future, you can easily waste years in the process just being guided by whatever pulls your attention in that moment, rather than having an overarching goal or objective to guide you and keep you on a steady course.
Being a part of a community of creative entrepreneurs in the wedding industry, I’ve found that I think many of us, when we start a new business without any business background, we just start. Many of us don’t spend a whole lot of time putting together a solid business plan. I know I didn’t have a business plan when I started. I might have done some simple calculations but I didn’t think deeply about how I wanted to structure my business, how much I needed to bring in, or what I wanted my life to look like as a result of my business. In fact, I didn’t really even know that it was up to me to decide.
So whether you’re starting a new business or you have a business that you would like to hone and refine to really start working for you, it’s important to spend some time dreaming and really thinking about the life that you want. And as you’re imagining this future for yourself, I want you to give yourself permission to dream big, as if there are no limits to what you can achieve. The most beautiful thing about starting at the beginning is that there are no limits. At this point in time, there is only possibility.
So, with that being said, right now I would like to challenge you to think about the future, and imagine what does your dream life look like? Is it being the CEO of a large & profitable empire? Does it involve having financial freedom? Good physical health? Or having more time for yourself or your family? Or is it simply finding a comfortable balance?
Think about the details of this life that you visualize. Is there a house with a picket fence? Does it involve a family? Where do you live? Where and how do you spend your days?
Think about your schedule. Do you wish to spend most of your days working and having a career? Do you wish to spend them stretching your mind? Leading a team of others? Do you wish to work less, perhaps being a homemaker while also earning an income to contribute to the household?
What are your desires outside of your career? Do you wish to have time in your week for leisure or hobbies? Would you like to carve out time in the year to travel?
Think about your financial goals. Do you wish to save money aside to pay off debt or send your kids to good schools? Do you have other family members to support? Would you like to have investments, like perhaps a 401k or invest in real estate? Maybe trade in the stock market? Or other opportunities to diversify your income?
Now, I would like for you to think of all of these things not as dreams, but as your reality and what will come to be – let’s say 10 years from now. And understand that your decisions today and how you structure your business will either guide you towards or away from that reality.
Your first decision is to determine what you would like your salary to be in this future reality. Consider what your monthly expenses will look like at that time, including how much you would like to save monthly or annually towards those vacations, investments, or other endeavors on your wish list.
STEP 2 – Reverse Engineer Your Business Plan, Beginning with Your Goal Revenue
The second step in building your roadmap is to figure out your business revenue goal. Remember that your personal income and your business income are separate, and your personal income will be a salary that you pay yourself as a portion of your business net profit. So you will want to figure out what is the salary that you would like to pay yourself, and from that, figure out what is the gross income that your business must bring in in order to pay yourself that salary?
Now, in order to avoid boring you in this episode, I have created a separate guide for calculating these, which you can download HERE.
If you would like to learn how to determine your hypothetical salary and your business gross income based on the life you visualized in step 1, go ahead and download the free guide linked above and you can follow the steps to figure this out. This process was super helpful to me once upon a time in determining what my business should be making vs. what I was currently making at the time, and really opened my eyes to seeing how I needed to seriously level up if I wanted the best life for myself and my future family. On the flip side, it also gave me the ability to hold up my gross income goal against my ideal future and it empowered me to make informed decisions on what was realistic and what sacrifices would need to be made if I wanted to keep my business where it was at. This experiment allowed me to test different scenarios and decide on a set of figures that I felt comfortable with.
Even if that gross revenue number seemed daunting at the time, I knew it was important to push myself not only beyond my comfort zone, but beyond my adopted belief system and, luckily I was blessed with opportunities to see that there were many different possibilities and creative ways to structure a business beyond the confined models I once had in my head of what a floral business looked like. And this was shown to me through examples of other successful women-owned businesses in my life. And that brings me to step 3, which is…
3 – Choosing Your business model
Once you’ve determined your gross income goal for your business, the next step will be to come up with your business model or your plan for how you are going to generate the income to reach your goals.
Maybe you’ve known you wanted to own a flower business, but maybe you haven’t yet thought about what exactly that looked like – Like whether you wanted a brick and mortar flower shop where you could interact face to face with customers and create arrangements and beautiful wrap bouquets… or a more private event studio where you could operate behind closed doors producing beautiful events and working in lots of different locations. Or perhaps you dreamed of growing your own flowers, and getting home grown flowers in the hands of more florists.
Maybe you’ve thought about your business model before and how you’ve wanted to structure your business, but maybe you didn’t realize that the business you were building was modeled after other businesses that you’d seen before. Maybe you were emulating what was familiar, but it never occurred to you that you could design your own unique business, and structure it in your own way.
This was another thing I didn’t really give much thought to in the beginning stages of building my business. As I mentioned before, it didn’t really even occur to me that I could make a decision about how I wanted to structure my business. I had one singular and quite narrow understanding of what it meant to have a flower business. I had worked in a shop for about three years, and that was the only business model that I knew when it came to flowers.
One of the beautiful discoveries I made in my 3 years of freelancing in the floral industry was that there are many different business models for a floral business. I spent some time freelancing for million dollar companies that had a huge team and were producing hundreds of events per year. I also worked for business owners who ran their business all on their own, in a charming hole in the wall studio, producing one beautiful wedding at a time and making it highly detailed, and spending the off season traveling and working on their own art. I saw businesses that had their own staff, and ones that operated with minimal crew and utilized freelance labor for the busier weeks. I saw ones that had coolers and refrigerated trucks, and ones that got by with uhaul rentals and their own personal vehicles.
And each of these business owners I had the pleasure of meeting had their very own unique lifestyle and set of goals. Some had only the one business as their main source of income, and others had a second business or even full time jobs on the side. Some were able to generate the income they needed from just a few large events per year, and coveted the remaining months to be at home with their kids. Some had built and nurtured a large enough staff that the business could run by itself while they took their annual vacation. Some lived to work and others had more freedom outside of their business. And as I got to know each of these businesses and how each one operated, I had the privilege of observing each of these business owners and how their business fit into their lifestyle. And the very different lifestyles they enabled them to have. And I thought about what I wanted mine to look like.
Once I knew what I wanted my business to look like, I could then start looking at some numbers, and cross checking them with my income goal. I could estimate what my business could bring in if I were to design my business around that specific business model. If I don’t want to do weddings larger than $7,000, how many of those weddings would I have to take per month in order to reach my goal? Or, if I only want to do 10 weddings per year, how large would those 10 weddings have to be? If I wish to only sell bouquets and cut flower stems, What do my sales need to be each month? Or each week? And is that realistic?
You might have multiple different revenue streams in your business already that work hand in hand in generating that overall gross revenue. You might be a florist who does weddings and events and also sells farm grown cut flowers. Or you might make an income teaching floral education. Or perhaps you only have one income stream, but you may decide after looking at the numbers, that you may be interested in expanding your offerings.
In testing your desired business model against your revenue target, you may decide to make some adjustments in your current business plan. You might decide that you can work up to larger weddings, or take a few more than you had planned. Or, you might decide to diversify and add more offerings to your business plan. Maybe you could pick up a few weekly accounts that would help you reach your goal.
So, considering your desired business plan and overlaying this with your revenue goal is an important step in determining a practical roadmap to your dream life.
Step 4 – Maintain the Course
After you’ve established a business plan, the final step is an ongoing one, which is simply to maintain the course. As the business owner who now has a destination and a plan to get there, you are in the driver seat. And that comes with a great deal of power as well as responsibility. (And no, I did not mean to just quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman.) Haha!
You will be faced with decisions daily and, instead of just going with your gut or being distracted by opportunities that sound fun or exciting, you will be making decisions knowing that they will either bring you closer-to or further-away-from your goals. This may require you to learn to set new boundaries that you haven’t had to before.
Perhaps after some time of trying out your new business plan, you might decide that it’s time to raise your minimum so that you can optimize your wedding income by having a higher wedding average.
With a goal-focused mindset, saying no becomes easier because you realize that in saying no, you’re not simply turning down business, you’re doing it to free yourself up for bigger and better things that will serve your goals. By consistently thinking in this mindset, your averages will naturally increase and as a result, your annual revenue will also increase over time. Saying no and setting boundaries will become an integral part of freeing yourself up for the projects and tasks that move the needle in your business, allowing you to continuously optimize your income.
This past year, I had to make the difficult decision of letting go of a la carte portion of my business to simply focus on weddings and floral education. After looking at the numbers for a few consecutive years, I had come to the realization that those small orders were no longer serving me in this season of my business. I came to a point where I had only so much time in my schedule each week, and when I weighed the few daily delivery orders I was getting against the education and digital shop side of my business, the income from the delivery orders were insignificant in comparison, so I had to let that go. And I realize that i could have made the decision to expand my business to support those orders that were coming in, but that would have meant changing my business model significantly and I decided that the avenues I’m focusing on now are the most fulfilling, and where I place my value at this time in my life. These are the difficult decisions you will have to make once you plant yourself in the driver seat of your business, which can be scary to face, but it’s also what’s going to allow you to reach your goals at a much quicker rate than you would taking the scenic route.
So, my friends, when it comes to crafting your ideal business and life, the first step is to visualize the life you want for yourself. From there, you can reverse engineer what your business needs to look like, starting with the revenue your business needs to make, and working backwards to determine what income streams can help you reach that goal. It’s not so hard once you break it down into small pieces which – you know – I am all about! And I hope today I’ve helped you see how you can look at your business from a birds eye view, create a strategic plan and put yourself in the driver seat to guide your business safely to the finish line.
While your goals and desires may evolve and change throughout different seasons of your life, the point of stepping into this goal-oriented mindset is for you to remain in control of your business, rather than it being the other way around so that you can take decisive action in making your dreams a reality. Trust me, future you will thank current you, when future you is sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a Maitai enjoying the fruits of your hard-earned labor.
I, for one, am enjoying the fruits of my labor today in my pajamas recording this podcast from the comfort of my home and, today, in this current season of my life, that is what success looks like to me and I wouldn’t have been able to be here if I had not given the gift of perspective and learning how to create a roadmap for myself.
I hope you learned something from this episode and I hope that today you will start plotting your own roadmap to whatever success looks like to you. I’m raising my glass from this side of the mic. You can’t see it, but I am! 🙂