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Career Story: Owner Of Flower Wholesaler

Owner Of Flower Wholesaler

Job Title: CEO Of Small Business

Type of Company: My company is a designer, importer and wholesaler of holiday and artificial floral decorations.

Education: BA, Government, Ohio University •• MBA, Boston University

Previous Experience: I was an international loan officer in a large New York bank and president of a small family-owned clothing store.

Job Tasks: As owner of this company I am involved with finance, product design, overseas trips for purchasing, scheduling shipments, customer sales calls, other marketing activities, oversight of sales reps and supervision of bookkeeping and shipping.

Each day can be quite different. Some days are spent selling at trade shows, other days traveling to see a series of customers (florists, garden centers etc) to sell them decorations. Each year there is a 1- day trip to the Far East. This involves going to trade shows or traveling to factories to develop new products. When I'm in the office there is always some clerical work- reviewing bills and reports, organizing the warehouse and checking on shipping, working on the web site, talking to sales reps or customers. Each day there is always some small problem. I try to come up with systems so my employees know what to do... but in a small business a lot of work and all the responsibility falls on the owner.

As a business owner the important skills include an ability to sell and deep product knowledge. Understanding accounting is helpful and you have to be very efficient. In the slow season (spring) I can leave work early, but in the busy season (summer/fall) I put in long hours.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best part of my job is the travel to the Far East, talking with customers, making a sale and the excitement of coming up with a new product.

The worst parts are the physical work (helping in shipping when we are behind), listening to customer complaints, the stress of making a profit. My income depends on it and really varies from good years to bad.

Job Tips: Running a business requires you to be organized and efficient. Because there are many things you must do, you must do them fairly quickly and well. You can't spend too much time on each detail. Good selling skills are very important. Developing those in earlier jobs is most helpful. Some knowledge of accounting is good...it is expensive to rely too much on an accountant.

I lived in Taiwan after college and can speak Chinese. As a result I can easily travel around the Far East. Language skills, while not necessary, are valuable in international business.

Additional Thoughts: Running a business is a series of adjustments. You cannot accurately imagine how your business will be from sitting at a desk. Things happen after you start and you have to be prepared to change. It is extremely hard work and long hours at the start, but it gets easier over time. You have to be an optimist and have a thick skin. At the end, though, you can really feel good about yourself and what you have accomplished

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