Are you an entrepreneur in Korea and grinding and hustling to make something for yourself? Well, I am, and I’m still working towards making something for myself. Everyday I get closer, but it sometimes seems like it is a never ending game. But the good news for me is that I totally enjoy the process, and I hope you enjoy the process of building your business or project in Korea as well. I especially love it when my flower business gets a huge spike in sales at certain times of the month, but it is easy to get down on myself in the times when there are less sales. It’s the exact same feeling I got when students would take a one month break from my hagwon business in the past. Even though I knew I would have less sales in a certain month or knew that students would take a month off, I never really got used to it. To be honest, I would always feel a little down when student enrollment went down, and now, I feel a little down when sales are not as high as I would hope for them to be. But I always got to remember to grind daily and work hard no matter what.
I love running my own business, even though there are uncertainties. I like that I can just go for a walk with my wife whenever I want, even though we technically have store hours. We just hang a sign on the door and leave our phone number for people to call us. It’s one of the joys of having your own business. And since we are mainly an online business, we are able to receive pre-orders before we even buy the supplies that we need. And since most of our customers are from the US, we even receive orders while we are sleeping. There are so many wonderful things about running your own business in Korea, but I have to grind daily to get sales and to make sure that the whole buying experience for our customers is unmatched. So what’s your daily grind? My daily grind isn’t much really, or is it? But for sure, it can be tedious, and there are times that I don’t want to do certain things because I may be tired physically or mentally. But because of my daily grind, I know that NO ONE can match what I do because I work hard and do things in my business that match my personality. Actually, I’m sure there are people out there who could do what I do in my Flower Business, but I haven’t seen anyone step up and enter the Flower business in Korea as I have. But I do believe the day is coming when I will have some real competition, meaning people in the Korean flower industry who are willing to be in the open and social like we are at Flower Gift Korea. Maybe you are thinking of starting a similar business to Flower Gift Korea. Then I wish you all the luck in the world because you’re going to need it. And make sure you make it something reflective of who you are, because you aren’t me, and if you just copy exactly what I do, I guarantee, you will lose. Actually, I can’t wait for the day another Flower Shop in Korea that caters to English speaking customers opens up in Korea. If the shop is in direct competition with me, I know for a fact that it will only further help my business, because I have a lot of things up my sleeve.
The flower industry isn’t for people who are looking to make easy money. You’re in it because you love to build your business, you love helping others, you love flowers, or all three.
Check out my daily grind and you’ll see why I’m not afraid of English speaking competitors coming into the Flower Industry in Korea:
A) Routine Involving Flowers (almost daily):
1. Wake up early and see what flowers are needed for the day’s orders or for upcoming orders. We plan ahead to see what flowers need to be bought every morning. Sometimes we have to replenish our flower stock every morning of the week, but sometimes this can be less. Also, since we receive a lot of orders from the US, we receive orders while we are asleep. So we have to adjust the list of things that need to be bought with short notice.
2. Then we go to the flower market to buy the best flowers available. Once you know what flowers to buy, you also need to buy enough for potential orders that might come through during the day, as well as walk-in sales. And it is always best to go early in the morning, since we have to figure out our delivery route, finish preparing flowers, etc.
Buying flowers can be tricky too. You need to know which flowers to buy, you also need to figure out which merchant has the best quality flowers, and you want to try to get the best deal, so you can maximize on profits. I am lucky to have built some relationships with some of the merchants at the flower market. They know me now, and I’m not just some random person buying some flowers. If they don’t know you, you may be given bad quality flowers or pay much more than others.
The merchants at the flower market are real hustlers, they have to get to work by 12:00am, because there are flower auctions going on till 8:00am. Flower auctions are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so they at least get to sleep in a bit on the off days.
3. Then we bring the flowers to our shop to cut and condition them. I’m not sure if you knew, but when you buy flowers at the flower market, they don’t come wrapped in beautiful wrapping, especially if you are buying them where they sell the cut flowers whole. There is a section where there are florists who have their own booths, but even still, you still need to pay for your flowers to be wrapped. That is why it can take lots of time to prepare even just one flower bouquet. When you buy flowers, they are sold in 10’s, 5’s and 1’s, and they are wrapped in newspaper! Then you have to cut off the thorns and leaves, and make the flower look presentable enough to be used in a flower bouquet or a flower basket. It can take a lot of time to create a flower arrangement, especially if you are using roses with lots of thorns
Here is Brandy Florist conditioning some roses:
As you can see from above, it takes work just to get the flowers ready to be used in a flower bouquet or a flower basket.
4. Then the flower designs have to be made. Lucky for me, my wife is very good with flowers and enjoys designing flower arrangements. So I’m usually doing most of routine number 3 while she gets a head start on the flower designs. It takes some skill to make flower designs and I realized that a lot of florists who took a lot of classes don’t actually have that much experience making flower bouquets. It’s just like going to business school, but not really having much experience running a n actual business.
5. Then we need to make all the cards for the gifts. We always include a complimentary card or ribbon message. We used to hand-write them, but ended up with just printing them due to various reasons. It takes time to print these cards up.
*Routine 4 and 5 can happen in unison
6. Then we need to get the flowers ready for delivery. We need to make sure the flower is made properly, the message is correct, and that it is ready for delivery in a delivery bag/box.
Here are bunch of flowers ready to be delivered:
7. Then we need to clean up the mess. There is a lot of waste made when making flowers. It can get really messy, so cleaning is an important part of our daily routine, especially since we get people visiting our shop time to time. So it’s important to make our shop look somewhat presentable.
The above photo is actually when it’s somewhat clean!
8. Then we need to deliver the flowers on time. If you have ever driven in Seoul, South Korea, especially during rush hour, you can understand how stressful it can be to drive in Korea.
9. Then we manually send a confirmation email to the customers. These confirmations are manually made by someone from Flower Gift Korea. This takes time and effort to do.
10. We have to change the water of the flower buckets and cut the flowers at least once every other day. The water can get dirty over time and the flowers need to absorb clean water efficiently. That is why we change the water at least once every other day and make another cut. If you didn’t know, it is best to cut the bottom portion of the stem at a 45 degree angle, so the flowers can easily absorb the water. After awhile the pores clog up and the flower can’t easily absorb the water, which is why we cut them again. And this can take a lot of time, depending on the amount of flowers we have.
Here are some of the buckets we have to wash and refill:
B) Routine Involving Marketing & Social Media (almost daily): Marketing has been integral and we have been doing it pretty much daily to get Flower Gift Korea more known all over the world.
1. Prepare images that can be used in our daily social media post. When possible, I prepare a bunch of photos that can be used in social media posts. The main social media outlets we use are Instagram and Facebook, so we have to make sure the images look good in a square shape.
2. Create a post that can be used or modified to be shared on all social media platforms. So almost daily, I create an Instagram post. This Instagram post is then adjusted to be used on my Facebook fanpage, Twitter account, Google Plus account, LinkedIn, Google Business, and on a Kpop app I’m a member of.
The above is just the photo portion of the post. There is also a description with a lot of hashtags. Though hashtags can be seen as spamming, they have been very helpful in getting me found in searches, at least that’s what I’ve noticed…
3. Like and congratulate as many posts as possible. I like or congratulate as many posts/images/etc. as possible. This allows for two things, it allows others to remember me by giving them a little tap/nudge, and it gives me time to research the market. I mainly only follow people I know or who I think may (or know some who may) one day buy my products. That way I am able to see what they are interested in and may be able to leverage that information to create more leads in the future.
4. Reply to all the reviews we receive and update the info on the site. I have a reviews page for Flower Gift Korea, which lists our most recent reviews. This way I can show visitors that we are current and we are reliable. And I always make sure to reply to every single review we receive. That way I can show my thanks and also find out why some people left bad reviews (None so far yet…). I also update other pages when needed.
5. Weekly blog post.
C) Other Tasks:
1. Reply to emails, messages, texts, etc. We are available on all of the social media accounts I listed in B2, have 2 phone lines, Kakao, WhatsApp, WeChat and Naver. We receive messages and calls all throughout the day. I have only recently stopped receiving calls/texts late at night, but before I even replied to instant messages at 3am in the morning. Now I wait till the morning because I also have to watch my health, but communication with customers is very important.
2. Keep records of all the sales and purchases. I know exactly what was sold, to whom, and when. I also know how much was spent every single day and how much profit was made. It takes a lot of time to input data into a spreadsheet, but it is very important to do so. This allows me to see trends in what people are buying, how much things cost us, and helps me make changes that will help improve the flower business.
3. Take pictures and email them to customers when requested. We sometimes deliver gifts to celebrities in Korea and a lot of the fans request to see a photo. So we went over and beyond and sent them photos of the flowers at the agencies the flowers were sent to. We wanted to make our customers feel as though they were part of the delivery process, which helped improve our reputation on social media.
Here is our gift deliver to MYM Entertainment for Actor Lee Minho:
And sometimes the celebrities are thankful and happy to have received the gifts, so they post a picture of the gift on their social media account, which we take a screenshot of since it can be used for marketing purposes:
The above image is a screenshot of the Instagram account of Ricky from TeenTop, which is a famous Korean pop group.
So these are most of the things we do almost every single day, which can seem like a lot. I have to grind daily and there are days where I don’t feel like making the delivery myself and would rather write a blog post or just relax at the flower shop. However, I need to push myself to do the things I need to do to get my business to where I want it to be. One of the hardest things about starting any business is getting customers. Even getting one is something to celebrate, but getting just one customer in the flower industry isn’t easy. Also, even if you get one customers, you can’t just buy a little bit of specific flowers, you have to buy 10 flower stems even if you only need 2 for the bouquet. Then you are left with inventory that may not get sold. It’s a lot like selling fruits and vegetables, because flowers don’t last very long, so if you don’t sell them, you have to throw them away.
Because of the things I just explained, my confidence in myself and my wife, and the fact that I can be pretty passionate and obsessive over providing a great experience for our customers, is enough to assure me that NO ONE will be able to beat me in this industry, at least in my niche of English speakers. When you decide to start building your project or business, you need to find something that you believe no one will be able to beat you in. If you are thinking of starting a business in the flower business and just think that it will be an easy business to start, please take a careful look again at my routine and realize that there can be days when you guys have a whole bunch of flowers on stock and end up with very little sales. That means you can actually end up losing money rather than making anything
My Secret Weapon Building a 100 Rose Basket:
Well, this was a peak into my daily grind. It was fun writing this blog post. To be honest, I was supposed to work on another website but decided to write this post instead. Sometimes I need something to take my mind off of building my businesses, so I’m glad that I’m able to blog about my experiences as an entrepreneur in Korea. What does your daily grind look like?