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  • My Way: Determination — Never Give Up
    By Sam Viviano

    As florists, we all can point to times when a new training program or snazzy marketing plan failed to bring about instantaneous, positive results. We may have responded by quitting the project and moving on to something else.

    But the story may not have ended there. When later visiting a friendly competitor or attending a seminar, we may have seen or heard of some florist who was successfully doing the very thing we gave up on.

    It doesn't have to be that way. Instead of watching your competitors succeed, learn the power of determination so that you can find greater success, too.

    A Lesson for Today

    We could all take a lesson from Brooke Knapp. A Californian, Brooke has almost made a career out of facing her fears. In 1978, some of her best friends were aviation enthusiasts. Brooke, however, was afraid of flying. She would go to the hangar, see everyone off, and then be left behind.

    "I didn't like that," she says. "I'm a person who likes to participate."

    So, Brooke decided to take flying lessons.

    "I was so afraid. I showed up about 50 percent of the time," she says.

    However, she took enough lessons to qualify for her first solo flight. Although she was crying while piloting the plane, she took off and landed successfully.

    Brooke continued flying. And eight years after that first flight, at age 39, she held 111 world aviation speed records. She is now chairperson of a $7 million aviation management and charter service.

    If Brooke could face a very real fear of flying to become a leader in the field, you can face your worst fears in the floral business. Imagine what you could achieve if you moved ahead with the type of determination Brooke has exhibited.

    A Personal Lesson

    When I first moved to Toledo, the flower shop I purchased revolved around what we called "carriage trade" customers. They were given that name because they were the wealthiest members of the the community.

    I was uncomfortable with carriage trade customers, mainly because I believed they required too much personal service. I also thought that many other florists were going after this same group — stretching the potential client base too thin.

    My preference was to deal with a broader base of customers who could and would purchase flowers. I chose the middle class and business people.

    It is pretty scary to change your business focus and customer base. There was a time when we didn't have enough of either the old or the new customer group. Sometimes, I wondered if we were going to make it.

    But we believed in our plan. After four years of persevering, the business started to take off. In fact, our sales volume doubled every two years for eight straight years.

    Other First Steps

    Another initiative that progressed slowly was our wedding business. We began by getting involved in a wedding show. The first year brought just a few orders — which didn't even cover our costs in the program.

    The next year brought a few more weddings. The following year, our wedding business boomed. We reached a point where we were doing 10 to 15 weddings every weekend. On one special weekend, we sold 23 weddings.

    It's All About Sticking Around

    Many successful business people emphasize the importance of perseverance and persistence. And they're absolutely right to do so.

    You have the ability to make and act upon decisions in spite of opposition or difficulty. To do otherwise is to invite premature defeat and lingering feelings of frustration.

    As Brooke says, "Everybody has fears. The world has two kinds of people in it: Those who are paralyzed by their fears and those who go for it."

    On your next project, be one of those people who "goes for it." The results will be well worth it.


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