Loving Your Work

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Corinne Smith shares strategies for starting and marketing your own business!

Corinne Smith, master floral designer — based in San Luis Obispo, with clientele between San Francisco and San Diego, California — is a prime example of an entrepreneur who dared to be bold and left her 9 to 5 job to pursue her passion.

Corrine Smith at the flower market

The following is an interview that Project Be Bold held with Corinne…may her candid thoughts and creative ideas for success educate and inspire you in your pursuits!

When did you first discover that you are creative?
Very early – probably 3 or 4 years old – told my parents that I wanted to be an artist – they strongly encouraged me to find a more lucrative way to make a living, a more traditional path.

What kind of experience did you have up to the point that you decided to start your own business?
I worked at a floral shop through high school and on the holidays when I came home from college – told myself “never going to do that when I grow up”.  So I did the more traditional path – got a business degree in marketing after considering law school and med school and chickening out.  Always wanted to do art history or fine arts – but tried desperately to stay on the straight and narrow.

What drove you to start your own business?
I hit a brick wall of absolutely hating what I was waking up to everyday and felt that quite literally my soul was dying – came home one day and decided I would go after what I already knew, but would make it into something I loved – never looked back.  Best decision I made – and probably saved my sanity.  Finally stopped fighting against my creative side.  The business marketing thing has been a little helpful too.

What are the benefits of having your own business?
I have no one to blame for my direction but me – and I love that.  I make it or break it all on my own.  I am the captain of the ship – it sails or sinks based on me.  I’m working harder than I have in my entire life, but I believe 100% in what I’m doing – never felt I could say that with a straight face before!  Every day is different –  new challenges, new problems, new opportunities, new ideas – I thrive on that.

Is there any downside to it? What are your key challenges?
The downside is that I work too much – I love it and it is really a drug for me.  I’m completely invested and it is hard to get perspective sometimes.  The key is to stay grounded and seek to find balance – I continue to seek it.  My rule of thumb is work hard, play harder!

How do you market your services?
The best means of marketing = a happy customer.  Anyone who loves you, will tell others.  Do what you do – but do it better than you are, be excellent – the word gets around.  In the last two years I’ve been experimenting with social medial and I have to say the experiment is extremely encouraging.  It doesn’t necessarily bring direct sales – but it brings amazing exposure.  Eventually, that brings people in to your center of influence and you can create brand loyalty from it.  Current customers, are happy to spread the word.  We have 100% abandoned print and have gone to web based media entirely.  Also, don’t be afraid to help others in your own business community – I’ve found that positivity comes back tenfold.  Find win win situations to help others while helping your business grow.  It means getting creative – but that’s the fun of it.

What are the keys to keeping your customers happy?
It’s been said that people will remember how you make them FEEL.  Honestly, it’s not always product that they’re buying – and certainly not in this economy.  We really try to make each of our brides feel like the only bride we have all season long.  Response time is key.  They don’t need to know that you’ve worked 14 hours for the last 12 days – they just want to feel like you care about the little details they’re concerned about – so take a deep breath, smile and be interested.  They will love you for it.

What is your Favorite Inspirational Quote?
This changes from time to time – but right now:

“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For more information on obtaining Corinne’s services, please visit the Panacea Event Floral Design website at www.panaceaflowers.com.

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