Hindsight is 20/20. “It’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but it’s hard to predict the future”. As we enter the new year of 2020 and especially a new decade, it’s a good idea to look back, learn from lessons, and plan for the future.

The 20/20 reference is a merge of my two professional lives. I was a trained optician for 15 years, and left 2 years ago to be a flower farmer.  I went to college and became an optician right out of high school. I was a young professional. This was a big learning experience for me. I had to prove that I knew my stuff and that I deserved the respect of my customers and peers.

I quickly climbed the ladder and was hired as the Area Supervisor for an optical chain. I managed 6 stores and over 30 staff. I was still young, under 30, but I was confident in my abilities. This job was full of long hours, conflict resolution, empowering my staff to excel and reaching goals set out for me. Looking back, this position helped prepare me for flower farming. I learned how to work hard. It wasn’t a cushy manager job. At times I was a supply delivery person in a pair of pumps and a skirt. This job also taught me about customer service. I was the front line of dealing with customer complaints that escalated enough to go to the head office. I had to help the customer as best I could to resolve the situation but also teach the staff member to be empowered and able to resolve the problem before it escalated.

In flower farming, we work really hard. We do everything we can to make our customers happy. If we have helpers or staff we want to empower them to work independently for the greater good of our business. Although I learned so much about business and people from being in a managerial position, I don’t want to be back working for a company, in a position like that, for a second. I want to be in charge of my life and business.

Lessons from 2019

Collaborate with like-minded people.

I am so lucky to have become great business friends with a new venue in my area. I did the flowers for their first wedding 4 years ago. It was a small event. But in the past 4 years we have done many events at her barn venue. We know and respect how each other works. She trusts that I am able to set up an event without her being around. Often our only interaction is a wave in passing as we are both doing our part to make the day great. In January of 2019 we worked together to set up a booth at a local large wedding show. I had always wanted to attend, but the $800+ price tag scared me. We split the costs and were amazed with the results. She booked the rest of her open dates and I was overwhelmed with the response for our bookings. Going forward she trusts me enough that she tells all of her couples that book her venue “Unless you have a family member who does flowers, book Janis.”

Find your business besties.

This year I was introduced to a group of ultra-local business women who meet to help one another with challenges they face in their business. It is a small collective of women who are full time and the main owner in their business and serve the local community. We meet monthly and every meeting is so helpful. We have a Vegas-style rule that “What happens in the group stays in the group”. We have exercises in our agenda to force us to be brutally honest and vulnerable. Nothing illegal! Just raw and truthful about our experiences, and seeking advice or inspiration of how we can overcome the challenges others are probably facing as well. We are very much community focused and not concerned about competition; we have two hairdressers and two restaurateurs, but that doesn’t matter, we know that any one of us cannot possibly take ALL the business. There have been many tearful moments as well as celebrating each other’s successes. Find the people you can bounce ideas off or look to for a compassionate heart. Look for business groups in your area, find the right fit. It may be the chamber of commerce or a business lunch group. Find the people that you enjoy being with and trust. You may have to go to a few different events but when you find your group you will make the time to go.

Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.

The week before Canadian Thanksgiving we were still flooded with flowers. We were working our butts off and also super tired from the constantly busy schedule. There was no sign of frost in sight even though we were at the beginning of October. One of my summer wholesale accounts contacted me and said “We normally get flowers from the wholesaler this time of year, but wondered if you think you can fill our Thanksgiving needs? We usually get 100 bunches of flowers for the weekend.” Luckily the message was on voicemail so I had a couple minutes to let it roll around in my head. I quickly decided, “We Can Do That!”

Don’t underestimate what you can achieve.

The week before Canadian Thanksgiving we were still flooded with flowers. We were working our butts off and also super tired from the constantly busy schedule. There was no sign of frost in sight even though we were at the beginning of October. One of my summer wholesale accounts contacted me and said “We normally get flowers from the wholesaler this time of year, but wondered if you think you can fill our Thanksgiving needs? We usually get 100 bunches of flowers for the weekend.” Luckily the message was on voicemail so I had a couple minutes to let it roll around in my head. I quickly decided, “We Can Do That!”

I arranged a bouquet in my head of one stem of broom corn, one sunflower, two stems of ageratum, two zinnias, three ball dahlias, and one stem of basil. Yep, we could do it! I called her back and said “Yes! We will bring 20 bouquets per day Thursday to Monday.” The store is about 6 minutes away. This was the most organized order I had ever done because I had to be organized and quick. We pounded those bouquets out so beautifully. It was a sight to watch. The final number delivered was 120—they called for a double delivery on Saturday. It was the greatest high to end the season. Frost hit on Thanksgiving Monday. That is the high that I am moving forward with in 2020.

Look at the past to learn lessons, mull over the present to gain experience and confidence, and dream and plan for the future. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

I’m very excited about the future of the ASCFG. The Executive and Board members had a very successful and focused meeting in Nashville and we have really set in stone the plan for the future. It is exciting to see the path for success that we can follow. I’m so grateful to be returning for a second term as the Canadian Regional Director. I am honoured that the Canadian members have chosen me to represent them. I am dedicated to this organization and its members. Hindsight is 20/20 because I had no idea when I received an ASCFG membership as a birthday gift in 2012 how important it would become to me.

Learn from your past, gain confidence from your experiences and plan your path to success. 

Janis Harris

Harris Flower Farm

Janis Harris Harris Flower Farm [email protected]