8 Years of Carolina Flowers: Reflections on Year 7-8

We had quite a party last weekend, and now our birthday celebration is complete until next year!

Over the past month, I’ve been reflecting on 8 years of Carolina Flowers. You can find all the posts here on our blog.

All that remains is to get the story current with years 7 and 8! These are interesting years for the business, and they feel very fresh and raw. Reflections are ongoing!

At the beginning of Year 7, I began the transition to a one business lifestyle. I had been running the flower business, plus a bar/restaurant, small hotel and rental property. It’s not that it was too much — it was too much, but it didn’t have to be. It was more that it wasn’t me! The other businesses weren’t reflections of my values in the way that Carolina Flowers is. I am proud to say they’re still going strong, and that I am no longer involved!

Running a small business is pretty thankless in a lot of ways. I now make a reasonable salary (and have since 2020), but I’m not really saving for retirement or doing any of the smart financial stuff that you’re supposed to do. I work a lot, and I think about work a lot. There aren’t many days when I can just phone it in and chill at work. But what I do get is a chance to make decisions that reflect  my values. I can try to make a better world by creating a sustainable farm and building careers in agriculture.

So, if you don’t feel like your business is reflecting your values, what are you really doing? It’s just another kind of rat race, and it doesn’t even pay well. Go get into tech sales.

Year 7 is when our style of flower arranging really started to gel. I had enough experience to teach well. I had talented designers on board, and most importantly, I was able to protect design time from other duties. When it comes to building a company, having specialists on board is key — and I myself don’t act like a specialist. My job is to look at the big picture.

By midway through Year 7, Carolina Flowers had my total focus. It was interesting to land back in the place I had been at the beginning of 2020, when I was looking forward to our “best year ever.” I was back in that same headspace but with so much more knowledge and experience about business.

The first thing I did was — nothing!

I spent some time deep diving, critiquing the model, paying off debt. All the responsible things that aren’t part of the start up phase.

Consequently, Year 8 was a really good year for the business. Our staff grew larger than ever before. We became stronger in the winter months. I’m still working on winter. It’s really hard to carry through a big staff when there aren’t flowers to sell! But the winter of Year 8 was the easiest it’s ever been.

It feels good to stand on solid ground. That’s how we’re beginning Year 9, and I have some big choices to make. Do we take another year to strengthen? Or do we make some big moves? It’s decision time. I hope you’ll keep reading to find out!

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