By Domenic Rinaldi

     It is no secret that 2009 and 2010 were tough years for a lot of florists. However, 2011 is setting up to be a year of growth for many businesses, and there is no reason your shop cannot be a part of that. Here are five straightforward but important steps you can take to help reinvigorate your business’s performance and get it on track to achieve your long-term goals.

1. Clarify your direction.
Initially, it is critical to clearly understand where your business is headed. Look at your current situation with a fresh set of eyes, and then establish goals for where you would like it to be. Do not be constrained by what you think is likely to happen. Consider what you want — what you really want — first.

Of course, every owner wants to become successful and build a profitable business. But this year, start with realistic “stretch” goals. For example, you might make it a goal to increase the time you spend with customers or take more time to beautify your shop. Push yourself just a little, and then break your goals down into pieces while designating milestones to measure progress.

2. Create accountability.
Once you have decided on your goals, it is crucial to build in accountability for yourself. How will you ensure that your goals are achieved? What systems, processes or people are you going to put in place to drive them to completion?

If you are not willing to put such checks and balances on your own actions, re-examine your goals. Without true accountability you may be setting yourself up for mediocre results. However, if you are able to create these assurances with meaningful deadlines, you have taken an important step to improving your business.

3. Open up.
When you run a flower shop, it is easy to get stuck by yourself at the top. With no one to talk to about the business, your own blind spots, knowledge gaps and shortcomings can get in the way of success. Let’s face it: Nobody does everything well. The problem is that many business owners prefer not to rely on others; they have an urge to try to do it all.

Open yourself to accepting help. First, while it might not seem to make sense right away, consider hiring to fill the roles that take you away from performing the most critical functions. Owners often do not take this step and lose out on the opportunity to serve their own “highest and best use.” Doing so might be another significant step to building your business.

Second, look for support organizations in your area. Peer-to-peer advisory groups are a great way to harness the experiences of other business owners who are facing the same or similar problems. Groups like this can help you identify solutions to your business problems while strengthening your skills as an owner and the leader of your company.

Third, if you already have the staff to support some of this effort, move past fears of delegating. Putting trust in someone else with the vital elements of running your company is a critical rite of passage for building a business. Thus, if you truly want growth, this step is necessary and unavoidable. Doing so will afford you the time to lead the initiatives that really drive success and stop turning you into the chokepoint to progress.

4. Monitor your work / life balance.
Running your own business is complex, and the strain it puts on your personal life can be counterproductive for the business in the long run. All too often, business owners become so consumed in their businesses that they forget to enjoy important events and everyday moments in their personal lives.

Letting life pass you by can have a huge impact on how you run your business. An unhappy business owner has greater difficulties becoming a successful business owner because a person’s mental outlook can negatively or positively affect how everything else falls into place.

This year, take some time to examine your business life and your personal life to identify those areas that are not working as well as you would like. Understand that sometimes you need to let go of control, trust in others and, importantly, trust in yourself. Also, be mindful of your stress levels. Just because you own a business does not mean you need to be there 24 hours a day.

5. Get excited about your business again.
The fact is that 2009 and 2010 were among the most challenging times businesses have ever seen. But, you have weathered the storm, and you can take pride in that accomplishment.

To capitalize on that in 2011, get yourself excited about your business again. Consider the possibilities, and let yourself dream just a bit. Remember the energy and enthusiasm you had when you first started as a florist, then reinject that vigor into your business today.

With just the right kind of extra effort, you can make 2011 your best year ever.

About the Author

Domenic Rinaldi is the president and managing partner of Sun Affiliates, which operates Inner Circle of Chicago. Mr. Rinaldi has more than 25 years of business experience in sales, marketing, operations, strategy, and mergers and acquisitions.

An Inner Circle is a group of eight to 12 noncompeting business owners who act as one another’s advisors and serve to accelerate the learning curve associated with managing and growing a company.

To learn more about Inner Circle of Chicago, visit

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PO Box 4368
Topeka, KS   66604

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