Welcome! This section is where we meet one of our Self Employed Colleagues in a series of blog style interviews I’ll be publishing on the site, so this week who better to introduce it than… Rachel! We’ve asked our special guest to tell us in their own words…
This is how I work.
Business Location: The Rose Shed, 214 Paintworks, Bristol BS4 3AQ
Current Venture: The Rose Shed
What one rule you stick to in your business: Go with your gut instinct… ALWAYS. If something feels wrong to you then it probably is. Whether it is a client you feel unsure about/or the type of job that you feel you do not actually want to work on. Then it is ok to say no. Every time I have gone against my gut feeling it has come back to haunt me… with clients messing me about or jobs turning into nightmare scenarios/endless emails etc. By saying No to work that you do not want to do you will make space for the work you actually want to work on. It took me a while to realise this, as I was constantly thinking I had to say yes to everything. But if you accept work that is true to you and your brand, this will therefore attract more of the same kind of work!
Current mobile phone: iPhone 8
Current computer: MacBook Pro
First off, thanks for agreeing to do this with me! Tell me a bit about your background and how you ended up where you are today:
I run a floristry business from my studio in Paintworks, Predominantly my business is wedding flowers, however I also offer event flowers and bouquet delivery in Bristol. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are always a big occasion in the florist calendar too and I offer workshops throughout the year including Christmas wreath workshops.
I started my first florist job at 13 as a Saturday girl in my local florist, it was a very old fashioned florist so I soon jumped ship to the more modern florist at 14 and continued to work there (alongside going to school obviously and then college). I picked up my love for flowers here, and subsequently worked for further florists in the area learning lots about the trade. I also worked for an artificial flower company who supplied designs to Next, Laura Ashley, High Street Stores. This is where as a design team leader I gained my experience in working with bigger corporate companies/ working to such tight deadlines and budgets yet also working with up to date trends in home wear and fashion that influences all design.
I made the move to Bristol after 3 years of working for this company and worked for one of the busiest florists in Bristol… in Clifton Village. After working here for a couple years I thought that there is nowhere else to go, but on my own and decided to set up my own business at age 26. At 34 now I have been running The Rose Shed for 8 years now, and still massively love what I do!
What tools do you use to help get you through the day?
So many tools get me through the day. I am a huge stickler for a list and schedule… and the girls who work here always laugh at me how I have each working day planned down to the hour with what we need to get done and when by. It is only on pen and paper so I am sure I am missing out on some super whizz app. I always wake up super early at 4/5am whether I am at the market or not. I find these few hours before everyone wakes up and want something are the most productive for me. You can get so much done! Time plan your day and if you do not finish a task in that time frame, move on so you do not waste time procrastinating/feeling guilty that you haven’t finished.
Social Media! Love it or hate it… I love it and use it as a major tool within my business. I take time out each day for Instagram to showcase work/engage with clients/other suppliers. I treat it as a part of my job and allocate time for it, because I do get a lot of business through it.
What’s your working environment setup like?
I am lucky that my living space is above my studio, … it is so useful when getting up at 4am and working late on big weddings that you can just creep down or upstairs and you are home. However, you do never leave your work environment in theory! I have a desk and chairs set up at the front of the studio for me to complete my admin work, and hold consultations. The rest of the space is for the flowers where we work on weddings and bouquets.
What’s your best productivity shortcut or life hack?
Delegation… and for a self confessed control freak it took me a while to realise this! Get people to help where they can and pay them to do tasks that you could easily do yourself, but do not have the time. Your time is more worthwhile being spent on the business and you have the capability to earn more money/develop your business further by delegating these jobs. So for example I have a cleaner, which at first I was horrified about ‘How can I be that type of person that has a cleaner’ being the Miss Independent that I am. I know that my time is better spent elsewhere and I can achieve lots more work that will benefit the business going forward. Plus it is majorly good for my mental health knowing the house is lovely and clean and I am not failing/slacking by not keeping up with the housework!
How do you keep your to-do list in check?
OK, so from looking at some responses I am pretty dam old school, again a list with pen and paper (sorry tech guys!!) but it works! My notes section on my I phone is totally full though… does that count as tech?! I’ve lived my life and business by lists…maybe I am missing a trick and I will get on the apps!! Please advise?!
What do you listen to while you work? Any Playlists you can recommend?
I’m not very good with silence, and I am lucky in that when we are flowering we can have the radio on ALL day full pelt or play lists… we are avid participants of Ken Bruce’s Pop Master and switch from Radio 2- Radio 6! In the early hours though I listen to lots of business podcasts…. ‘She did it her way’ Amanda Boleyn, ‘Small and Mighty Sam Burgess’ also specific floristry business podcasts, which offer insights into small business. I love Podcasts and find them so useful and you can listen whilst driving/working etc…again a good productivity hack is to try and gain information whilst doing the mundane tasks such as driving, which we do a lot of in our job! I am so lucky in my job that I can do this. Desert Island Discs is also my fave listening… you can learn lots from successful/interesting people alongside their memorable music, whatever their background or occupation.
What are you currently reading? Or what’s something you’d recommend?
A book I have read recently “Start With Why’ Simon Sinek. It is all about the importance bringing our business back to ‘Why’ we are doing it and how customers will fall in love with/become loyal to a brand this way. Your ideal clients will buy into your product or service by understanding ‘Why’ it is you do what you do. Think Apple and the life long/hardcore Apple fans… Steve Jobs nailed this at Apple. It made me think about the ways in which I should be conveying this ‘Why’ message over to my clients.
Another just because… I think of this book every now and then, whenever I am having a meltdown (rare obviously… although ask the people closest to me they may disagree!!) When I’ve come to the end of my patience, when I’ve been up since 4am standing up all day working on a wedding and am still going at 9pm at night… I think back to this book and massively have a word with myself!! ‘Touching The Void’ when matey is clambering his way back to base camp, barely alive, with that Boney M ear worm in his head… I realise I do not have it bad at all and I can do anything. This book will forever inspire me to just crack on!!
How do you wind down?
As a small business owner you can often struggle with winding down…. My business is my passion and I really do love my job and want to continue pushing the business forward. However, the last couple of years I have learnt that it is CRUCIAL to be able to try and switch off. You cannot complete everything in record timing/ you are not indestructible/ and you do need the odd break! I love running which is great for my mental health and fitness, and I have an Irish Terrier Betsy so we get out walking in the countryside. Nature and green space is the best way I switch off, just talking a long walk in the woods will do wonders for my brain.
Lots of my work involves weddings at the weekend, and then admin/catch up in the week… in the high wedding season we can go weeks without a proper day off, let alone two days in a row. So this year I have blocked out a few weekends to allow me to do fun stuff and have a real weekend off like a ‘normal’ non self employed 9-5 person!! And I feel so much better for it, getting away and seeing new things allows you to have that break and come back and look at your business with new eyes and to get excited about the business again.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
‘Only worry about the things you can change’ Personally I have found that by working for myself it is easy to get caught up in my own thoughts/overthink everything. So by realising you cannot change everything you would like to and you can only focus on the way that you can react to things… simple I know, but sometimes you just need reminding of the simple things!
And there you have it, that was Rachel and that’s how she works. If anything you’ve read in this post sparks an interest – it’s something BrisTechTonic can probably help with! Our goal is to help entrepreneurs and small businesses make that leap and get their business moving.