Part 6. Master the flow
There are several ways to profit from paper flowers. Regardless of which path you choose, you must know where you are spending your money and your time, in order to understand gross and net profits after expenses.
In the beginning when I worked directly with clients via my website, I tackled the invoicing system by enrolling in PayPal Business. Here is what I did to set up an invoicing system. There are other invoice systems to choose from and all will require some forms of the following.
- Established a PayPal business account with my branded Gsuite email
- Created an itemized quote template for clients to see the cost of an order with my terms of service
- Started my invoice sequence with the year (example: my first billing of 2018 was 18001)
You MUST have a Terms of Service on your invoice as well as an expiry date for the quote. Terms of Service indicate how you will handle client dissatisfaction. An expiry date allows you to move on with your life.
I never bothered with a fancy quote. What I focused on were clear terms, clear pricing that included all the elements of the sale, and excellent photos.
I used the PayPal interface to present the invoice via email. Clients either accepted my terms, or not, and there was no transaction of money for goods. In the beginning I worked directly with homeowners, eloping brides, florists, and businesses and companies. As a new mom this was a really great way to start my journey.
I took great care at the time to set up a questionnaire using Google Forms on my website in order to guide the potential client into telling me what they desired before we began any professional correspondence. Everything I needed to know about invoicing as a paper florist was borrowed from the fresh floral industry, where abundant free education is presented by Alison Ellis, someone so smart she actually trademarked the term "Floralpreneur" which is a lovely expression of what she does.
After my primary market switched to teaching online, Teachable handled my accounting on their paid professional plan (if you go this route, I highly recommend you start with this plan). Regardless of what Teachable covered in terms of billing students and paying for VAT, I needed to track expenses, to establish a true cost per course. These expenses, beyond cost of goods, included daycare! So, what did I do to track my inventory and expenses?
Establishing an inventory and tracking expenses I still do on good old-fashioned spreadsheets in Google drive. Yes, just a simple spreadsheet! In my inventory I like to write down what it is, and how much I paid for it, and for what order, course, project or client. In my expenses I track it by what kind of business expense it is (Cost of Goods Sold is typically the category for inventory and there are myriad others, which a good tax accountant will provide for you).
I do a quarterly housekeeping of my spreadsheets, going to my business bank accounts, seeing what has come in and out, adding to my spreadsheets, totaling expenses and income, and paying my sales tax online to the state of Maine. This is a half-day task I schedule for myself. At the end of the year, my work is done!
Another key reason to keep an inventory is for insurance purposes. If you are working out of a home studio space, and something happens, you will have a record of your inventory and expenses.
By now you’ve read all the other parts of how to become a paper florist. Practice, get organized in the studio, pick the right name and reserve it, get a tax ID, establish wholesale accounts. You must be anxious to make that business card (don’t do it yet), get your website going, and move on with being a paper florist!