When you're starting up, and creating those all-so-important first financial forecasts, the costs can seem a little...daunting. However, don't let that stop you. By thinking lean and taking a different approach, it's possible to bring costs down. Tom Le Mesurier is the co-founder of Florist Up My Street, a platform to connect buyers with local florists, promoting the creativity of these florists and helping local businesses thrive. When he first forecast the costs to make the idea reality it was too high - but where there's a will, there's a way.

Getting started

Florist Up My Street had been brewing in the background for a while. I've been in the flower industry as a wholesaler for five years and it was the discussions with my customers that triggered the idea. There are lots of unfair services out there that really restrict what the florist can create, what they can sell it for, and suffocate them in overheads. I won't go into these details, however, this is what sprung the idea for a fair and flexible system that would massively benefit both the florist and consumer. Smaller overheads, more control of what they sell and overall more flowers for the consumer. Winning all round!

I ran the wholesale business with my brother in law, and when originally talking about my plans we realised that the cost to create the system I wanted was far too high! We were originally looking at £120k for the website alone, let alone all the other set-up costs. So it was back to the drawing board for us…for a while.

Taking a different approach

I knew however that the timing was ideal for this project, which made me think about an old colleague I used to do business networking events with and a little bit of work for, back when I used to freelance as a graphic designer. We always used to talk about working on a big project together, so I wondered if he would be keen on a project like this. It was from this phone call, after about four years of silence, that the overall project started to become possible.

Benefits of teaming up

There are many great things about partnering up with others, above the financial; together you have a broader range of skills and fresh ways of looking at things. Phil brought into the project a load of ideas, as well as investing in the company with his time and expertise, rather than money. Now we had a rat pack of people with the specific skill sets to create the project on a shoestring budget of only 45k. Between us we could handle website development, design, marketing, legal and set up. As well as this we had the industry know-how, contacts and experience to get everything off the ground.

Moving onwards

Since then we have bootstrapped the project by offering additional services, such as online shop plug-ins and websites to help fund further development and advertising of Florist Up My Street. We have secured a Virgin Start Up loan for our next website development update and are looking into crowdfunding for a big PR push. It’s a far cry from the early days of looking at a minimum of £120k to get started, and puts us in a better position for the future.

Key takeaways

  • Don't give up if, at first, it seems too expensive or too much of a mammoth task. Think sideways - how can you approach things differently and bootstrap?
  • Create a team where each member has a fundamental role, skillset and experience. This is what we managed to do. It not only saved us a huge amount of money in the developing stages, it also saves with ongoing costs. Digital design, online development and marketing experience are big running costs which we find we can keep to a minimum with our in-house skills.
  • 3Split everything down into bite-size chunks. It's a lot easier to work with and a lot less daunting.

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