It's just over 10 years since I handed in my resignation from the Wisley Plant Centre. my son was 7 months old, and i'd returned to my much loved job as Plant Centre Manager, to find that full time retail and motherhood, just didn't match.
By then i'd been selling plants to the public, and managing Plant Centres for 12 years.
I was familiar and confident with sales (and no not the type that make me shout at the TV screen when The Apprentice is on!)
I'd been putting together and running training sessions for staff to train them about plants and products.
I was in charge of budgets, large ones actually!- both for the numbers of staff available, but for what sales targets we needed to meet each month. So I was an expert at looking at a spreadsheet and working out what that meant needed to be done on the shop floor for the next week.
When I became Self employed, I thought my biggest problem would be making myself work in the rain, - and not getting paid when I went on Holiday. Actually my largest hurdle, was that I didn't know anything about Marketing. - That had always been the "head office" role.
My first season as Plantpassion was amazing, - friends and family asked my advice, got me to redo their borders, they told their friends and my order book was full for the first 7 months. Then there was a summer lull, but I found a business mentor, who introduced me to Networking, - and I went every month, and learnt from a speaker and met other business women. I got new customers, my order book was full again.
I found out about Writing style / Personal Branding / Advert Campaigns, I set up Networking sessions closer to home, and then I joined Social Networking as well, and this Blog was started.
When I decided to change the direction of Plantpassion and grow cut flowers, - it was so much easier to apply all the lessons i'd learnt.
Now as I sit here planning for 2015, I’m putting into practice all the things that I’ve learnt.
I now know my strengths - I love propagating, planning and lists. Experimenting with new varieties and talking, - so My field will be a lot fuller next year, as I’m growing about 10 times more than this. My Polytunnel is full of pots of plants that have been successful this season and are being multiplied many times before the spring.
They’ll be more workshops next year, and talks to garden societies, and I’ve already got several groups booked in to come to have a tour, plus I’ll be hosting a full day workshop at Wisley as part of their liaison with the London College of Garden Design, about creating a Cut Flower garden.
I’ve honed my markets. I’m working with some brilliant Florists, which means I can put together my seasonal bouquets, but not have to worry about more elaborate floristry. This means that my main customers for next year will be Local florist shops, Event Florists, and more of our great DIY brides, - who want a themed box of flowers to make their own arrangements with.
I’ve done my figures, I know exactly how many of each flower I sold this year, and I’ve got details about how long they took to get to bloom, and which were profitable, and those that were hangers on. I’m revamping my field to fit more in, and make it easier to pick so that I can be more productive. Plus there are lots more rolls of black matting coming, so I will have less weeding to do. (hoorah)
i'm really excited now about my Ideas for 2015, - so it's on with Business Plan. - Are you organised enough to book a workshop for next year yet?