Monthly Archives: March 2017

How to start a flower shop and flower delivery business – interview

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In this article, I interview Jim Bloom, the owner of a few successful flower delivery shops in New York. Peter owns NYC flowers in the Manhattan area, Queens flowers in Queens, New York and Brooklyn flowers in Brooklyn, New York.
1) How did you get into the flower business?
About 20 years ago I started getting interested in gardening I always wanted to be something to do with flowers about 15 years ago I opened up my first store in Queens New York so history from there.

2) Did you open all your locations at the same time?

My first store was in Queens New York after that we opened up stores all up in the other boroughs Brooklyn and of course Manhattan and then Long Island.

3) What do you recommend anyone getting into the flower business?

Anyone getting into the flower business should be most concerned with how are they going to get new customers they should focus on retail to corporate accounts such as hotels, and other venues as well as event planning weddings and such these are all important.

4) How do you make sure that you have the best flowers?

All of our flowers come from areas very far away. They fly here on special planes with cooling systems to keep them cold once they arrive at airport, they are kept in cold storage untill they arrive to our stores. We make sure to order flowers on a weekly basis to keep our stock moving daily.

5) What was the hardest part of making your business successful?

There’s so many pieces to keep a flower shop successful. You have to worry about your retail. You have to worry about your staff. You have to worry about making sure that you can pay all the other bills that go with owning a business. It’s not very different than anything else the one good part is that you get to enjoy all the beautiful flowers at the end of the day and it smells good.
6) What do you do for marketing your flower shop?
Quality is the best marketing tool. We have the best flowers. People love our work, come back to us, and recommend us to their friends. Other than that, I make sure that my website is discovered when people search online.
We are also a part of the community where we do business. Any time there is a big event, we are present there, provide the most beautiful flower arrangements, people see the flowers, ask where such beautiful arrangements can be made, and take our business card.
7) What would you recommend anyone who wants to open a flower shop?
Be ready to work hard and love flowers. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I still wake up at 5am every day. The flower show will be your life. You better enjoy it.
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It’s All Appening, So Get In The App Business

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The future of business is digital. In fact, the present of business has been digital for a while, too. But more and more are finally getting on the bandwagon and seeing what the online world has to offer their company. There are plenty of fresh businesses being born in the digital age, too. A lot of them use apps to offer their customers a greater online retail experience, or to better organize their workforce, or to better deliver their services. Which means a lot of them need apps from developers just like you.

Photo by AJEL

Have the kind of presence they want

The skills of actually developing and delivering apps are essential, but they’re not the only skills you should have. Marketing is how you deliver the idea of those skills to the customer. If you want your ability to help businesses make their mark on the digital world to be taken seriously, you need a digital presence that can be taken seriously, as well. You need the website, the content, the social media presence, and even the app that shows you know what you’re talking about when it comes to the world of business online. If you’re not willing to invest some time and money in creating an online presence that looks truly professional, people won’t make good assumptions about delivering professional apps for them, either.

Find your market

If you’re having trouble finding your brand or finding customers, then you need to think more closely about the market that you’re going to target. As any guide to selling mobile apps will tell you, one of the best places to start is with the contacts you already have. You need to start building leads, starting with the real partnerships you’ve already formed. From there, look into people who are on your LinkedIn network or following you on social media. These are the people who are already interested and could be the easiest leads to convert. Take it slow working on prospects individually while you continue using tools like search engine optimization and social media marketing to build a steadier flow of inbound attention.

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Stay visible in the industry

Another great way to connect more solidly with certain kinds of leads is to focus on a niche industry. If you’ve worked on developing software solutions for other businesses before, think about the industry they work in and see if you can’t grow a more solid customer base from that industry. If you can get a testimonial from past clients and partners, even getting them to spread a bit of word of mouth amongst members of their industry, it can build roads to leads much faster than you would be able to, yourself. If you have those industries showing a strong base of interest, you need to keep yourself visible. Attend their trade shows, take part in conferences, hook up with them on LinkedIn groups and the like.

Be the solution provider, not the problem thinker

Giving the right message about what exactly you do can be tricky. But there’s a general rule to keep in mind in your marketing campaigns and when you have meetings with potential clients. It is not your job to think of problems that businesses might have that you are able to solve. It’s your job to listen to problems they have, maybe even the bare-bones of a solution they’re thinking of to fix that problem. It’s good to have an idea of what your apps can provide to them, in case they ask. But focus on asking them what they need, not what you can provide. Marketing this on your site can mean providing case studies of past work, leading with what they asked for you and how you delivered. If you start by offering to solutions to problems they’re not thinking of, not only does it show a lack of chemistry between developer and client. It gives the impression that you’re steering your services in that direction because your actual capabilities are limited.

Photo by TeroVesalainen

Keep it simple, stupid

One rule to always remember when talking to new clients is to keep the jargon on the down-low and start off speaking to them in their own terms. This doesn’t mean you have to assume that clients aren’t capable of understanding you. It’s about learning that effective communication means finding a shared language. Too many software and app developers pay too little mind to how well they’re being understood. If a client doesn’t understand what you’re doing for them, how can they be happy with it?

The ‘everyone wins’ pricing strategy

Developing an app is more than the delivery of a product. It should include ongoing support, open lines of communication, and regular reporting on progress. There are different levels of that service you can offer to appeal to a broad market. Small companies might not be able to invest in such a thorough process, so your pricing strategy should reflect different levels of service you’re able to offer. Whether this means throwing a pricing page with different packages on the site or offering a quote based on conversations with potential clients, flexibility lets everyone win out on a deal.

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Keep adding value

Keeping clients sweet is important. That’s why you should make sure that you have an ongoing relationship with them even when ‘app 1.0’ is complete and shipped off. For instance, the higher price packages or extra post-complete services can offer compatibility updates, ensuring that your clients’ apps will stay supported even after you’re done working with them. You can go even further, promising that their app will never be obsolete even if your business for some reason is unable to work on it. You can do that with escrow services that allow you to share the source code with them in the event you’re no longer in business. But it doesn’t share that code too soon, so you’re not giving away the tricks of the trade that allow you to produce such professional work.

Hopefully, the tips above give you the focus you need to start getting those coding digits typing away. If you have the business and people skills to go along with the software development, then there’s plenty of money to be made in the world of B2B app-selling.

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Train Yourself To Market Your Business Properly

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(Image link: http://bit.ly/2mmrfHt)

Many business owners spend a fortune on marketing & advertising. It’s understandable, after all, you need to promote your company as best as you can, and get it seen by so many people. The main issue is that they don’t know how to market their business, and have to hire lots of help.

However, you can save a load of money if you learned how to market your business properly. So, instead of paying for someone to do it for you, why don’t you try and train yourself? Here are a few ideas that can help you do just that:

Visit Marketing Websites

The easiest way you can train yourself to be a better marketer is by viewing loads of websites online. Bookmark a host of marketing sites that provide you with tips and tricks on how to improve the way you market your business. If you use Google Chrome, then some sites even let you allow notifications for updates. So, you could be browsing the web and get a notification of a new marketing post for you to read. The good thing about getting info online is you can usually find stuff that’s easy to digest and not too technical or complex.

Listen To Podcasts

Another way you can consume free marketing knowledge is by listening to experts talk about the industry on podcasts. Find yourself a marketing talk show podcast with great advice that you can listen to whenever you have a moment to spare. Podcasts are great for learning new things as good ones will cover a whole range of topics and include different views from different experts. Plus, they’re so easy to consume – pop one on when you’re in the car driving somewhere, or replace your music with a podcast when you’re in the shower.

(Image credit: http://bit.ly/2mmkXHU)

Watch Instructional Videos

You may not realize this, but YouTube is an exceptional way to gain marketing knowledge. There are loads of instructional videos or tutorials explaining certain aspects of marketing like SEO or email campaigns, etc. What’s great about watching videos is they’re easier for you to understand as the person talking can demonstrate actions for you. Also, a nice little bonus of YouTube videos is the comment section. No doubt it will be full of marketers sharing ideas relating to the topic of the video. So, it’s a great place to ask a question and get lots of advice.

Go On Courses

If you want to be a bit more proactive and spend some money, you can always go on marketing courses. A quick look online and you should be able to find all manner of courses in your area. Sometimes, there are ones you can complete online at home too. A course will help you learn more about business marketing and teach you how to apply your knowledge in the real world. This is a good idea for someone that’s serious about marketing their business and wants proper technical training.

Train yourself to be a better marketer and take control of your business’s marketing strategy. Now, you’ll spend less money, meaning you have leftover cash to put to good use.

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In Business, You Should Never Be Reliant

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Not business is an island, out there alone on the sea of the economy. There are systems you’re apart of, businesses with whom you have a mutual understanding and common cause. You’re a small player, no matter how successful you are, in a game much bigger than yourself. Together, the economy is bigger than the sum of its parts. Still, that doesn’t mean you should go too far in the other direction, and neglect to see yourself as a business that stands on its two feet. You should never become too reliant on anything else, be it another company, system, or star player. Here are a few of the pitfalls to watch out for.

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Source: Pexels.com

That One Customer

Now, we all know how exciting it can be to receive that one big order that pushes you into the next level of business. After toiling away for several years, your hard work is beginning to pay off and you’re finally beginning to post some serious numbers in the profits box of your accounts. Well done! Nothing too bad in that, on paper at least. But you should be wary of putting all your eggs in one basket. If you stop putting in the necessary level of effort for your other smaller projects, or stop going after them altogether, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall. What if your one lucrative client accounts for 30% of your revenue initially, but soon down the line they’re accounting for 50%, and then more? You’ll be in trouble should they decide to pull out and you haven’t got any more clients lined up to replace their orders. No matter how attractive a client is (and some will be: Google? Yes please!), you should never be a subsidiary of them.

Keeping Things Small

Consequently, you should try to keep your contracts small but plentiful, especially in the early days. If you land one big order before you’ve got the systems in place to handle that order and go after new clients, then you’ll be in over your head. You might do that one job really well, which will lead to other clients down the line, but you’ll most likely be limiting yourself too much if you stick to just one. Grow organically, naturally. If a client feels like it’d be too much of a step up then it probably is, and may do you more harm than good in the long run.

Your Infrastructure

It’s not just clients that you can be too reliant on. You can also be too reliant on the systems that allow you to do your job. For example, if there’s a piece of licensed software that becomes indispensable to your business, then what happens if the software company goes out of business and no longer provides the software? If this sounds like it might be a concern, you should solicit software escrow services, which would enable you access to the source code should they go under. Similarly, take another look at where your important documents are. Are they on a hard drive? What would you be able to do if that hard drive failed (and eventually, it will)? You should look at cloud storage. Even then, be careful: some people do wake up to find their cloud storage accounts deleted for some perceived breach of the terms and conditions. It’s best to back up everything, over multiple platforms and devices.

Marketing

There are too many companies out there who treat Facebook and the rest of the social media big players as one of their only ways of marketing to new people. This is fine for now – social media is a terrific way to get the word out. But never forget that these systems will one day be obsolete. Facebook won’t be here forever, no matter how confident you might think otherwise. You should always be exploring new ways to market your product or service. Keep it diverse: a video here, Facebook post there, a blog and newsletter, and so on. If you build up a strong Facebook following only for your account to be deleted, then you’ll have many other tools to fall back on. Don’t put your success in the hands of just one giant corporation!

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Source: Pexels.com

That One Genius Employee

Everything we’ve talked about so far has been mostly about external factors. But there are a few internal considerations you should bear in mind too. This applies especially to those companies who are more reliant on one employee delivering the goods than they should. Instead, you should build systems within your company that play to the strengths of your MVP, but which would also be able to manage should he or she depart. Think of it like a sports team. An OK team with a star player may challenge for all the big titles, but the second that star leaves they’ll quickly start sliding down. A great team with a superstar player, meanwhile, will still be great after the player leaves.

Things Staying the Same

Things are going well, the economy is ticking over nicely, the whole country seems to be in a state of perpetual happiness. This echoes back to the boom years of the nineties. And what happened after that? Everything fell apart, and too many businesses were ill equipped to deal with the massive downturn of fortunes. Never, ever take for granted that the way things are now are the way things will be forever. Innovation is happening far too quickly for things to stay the same for any significant period of time. Have plans, be adaptable and open to change, and be quick to react to changes in the atmosphere.

Play the Game

Essentially, running a business is akin to “playing the game”. There are frameworks you have to work within, but there’s still plenty of room for autonomy. The only thing your company should be reliant on is its success; it’s up to you to set it up so that it’s able to achieve this as independently from other factors as possible.

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