Business is blooming for the owner of Diana’s Flower Shop. Take a whiff of the five business tips she’s learned from working 32 years in the floral industry.
By Lydia Gregovic, Photo by Caitlin Candelari
Nestled in the heart of East Austin lies Diana’s Flower Shop, a veritable secret garden filled with blooms of every shape, size and color. Owned and operated by longtime Austin resident Diana Limon, the store has been a community staple for 32 years, with Limon dabbling in creating everything from everyday bouquets to wedding floral arrangements. With her family by her side, Limon has watched her shop—the idea for which was born out of a casual dinner conversation—flourish and blossom like the flowers she sells.
Now, with a thriving business and a bevy of loyal customers behind her, Limon shares the secrets to her success.
Pay to play.
“One of the most important things that I would tell anyone starting a business is before you do anything else, you’ve got to pay your taxes. I’ve seen so many businesses fall into the trap where they start thinking along the lines of, ‘Oh, it’s fine [to put it off]. I’ll do well next month.’ That type of thinking is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, in my opinion. You have to balance yourself and your revenue and make sure there’s enough to pay what you need to pay through the year. So, even if you do exceptionally well one month, that’s great, but remember that the money isn’t all yours. If you want to succeed in the long run, you’ve got to pay Uncle Sam first.”
Make it personal.
“In my opinion, what makes Diana’s different from the bigger event planners is the level of one-on-one interaction we have here. I have customers where I’ve done flowers for them on the day they were born, and then I’ve also done their prom or their weddings. You really get to know them. That’s the key to growing a small business like this, that one-on-one time. I always say to people, ‘No matter what, you’ve got to listen to your customers.’ If they know they’re listened to, if they feel like you understand them, that person is going to tell another person [about the business]. That’s really how I believe that we’ve been here this long, because we have a lot of repeat customers and a good amount of referrals.”
Lean on your loved ones.
“Diana’s really began as something that my mom and I could do together. She’s the one who was always interested in design, and the work ethic which she and my dad both possess always influenced me growing up. Especially with my dad, having a background in business, he taught me what it means to be a boss. I remember, he would be [at his store]until 4, 5 o’clock in the morning and stay there until 8, 9 o’clock at night because he had to finish. Even if his employees could go home and rest, he knew what it meant to stay until the job was done.”
Remember your roots.
“I really believe that we could be millionaires and I still would be here on this street and in this building. When it comes down to it, we believe in the community that made us. And that’s another thing I would say to women starting a business: Don’t forget where you came from. Now I have customers from all over the city who come to me, but I always remember that my community has been here since the very beginning. And so, now that I can afford to, I always try to give back to churches and schools in this area. When a community has helped you prosper so much, I believe it’s important to reciprocate.”
“I always say, as the boss, you get to take the credit when your business succeeds, but you also have to accept the blame when something goes wrong. In both cases, you have to take responsibility instead of just handing it to the next person in line because I guarantee you that whoever is complaining wants to hear from the boss, not the employee. Beyond that, it’s important that your employees see you being involved in your business. I like to say they know I’m a real person. I’ve worked in every aspect of my store, from designing and arranging to cleaning toilets. So, even if my designer is the one doing the actual arrangement, it’s going to have a touch of me before it leaves the store.”