Secrets to Success with Joeanna Caffrey: “I don’t think mistakes are a bad thing as they drive you to be better.”

Ever wondered how someone makes it as their own boss? What it takes to run your own business? Here at VIP we exclusively speak to some of Ireland’s top businesswomen to find out the secret to their success.

This week we’ve been chatting to Joeanna Caffrey from Joeanna Caffrey Flowers on everything from managing the work/life balance to who inspires her most.

Have you always dreamed of owning your own business?
That’s ultimately what most people would hope for but I never really knew it would happen. I just followed a path that I knew would make me happy. I changed my career 10 years ago from a Marketing Manager in a large multi-national to re-train as a florist and the rest is history.

What advice would you give a young woman who wants to be her own boss?
I don’t think you can set out to be your own boss without having a passion for what you are doing. If you are starting out in a new career my advice would be to train and work in the area before setting out on your own venture. This will also show you if you truly love the subject you have chosen.

How do you balance work/home life as a business owner?

There is not really a balance as I would always be on call really to answer any queries from my team. I have three permanent flower stores at Avoca Rathcoole, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne and two pop-up flower stands at Dundrum Town Centre and also at Avoca Ballsbridge and a weddings and events business so it is always busy.

I had planned to take some time out with the recent birth of our baby girl Violet but with the onset of Covid-19, it actually gave me the time as my business was closed. Ordinarily, I do take time out with my friends and family though as I have to for my head space. I would usually take a Sunday but again if I get a call I will answer it as I feel dealing with an issue straight away is always more manageable and less stressful. That is the compromise you accept when you work for yourself.

Do you find that you often bring your work home?
Always, for the last 10 years my business has been my life to be honest, my husband also works for himself owning Windyridge Garden centre with his brother, so he understands the challenges we are constantly faced. It’s important to have someone close who understands and can advise you when you work for yourself.

My husband is great and am very very lucky. It is hard not to talk about the daily challenges amongst other things with him in the evenings. Also if there is something to be ordered or emailed last minute than it is done in the evening if the hours have ran out during the day. I can’t sleep if there is something that should have been done so I would always do it.

What have been your biggest challenges you have faced?
There are daily challenges and we are in one of them at the moment with the Covid-19 virus. We really rely on occasions especially Mother’s day and I had to make a decision just before to close everything down and move online for the welfare of my staff members. This was extremely difficult as we rely heavily on these occasions to make up for quieter times.

We have reopened now thankfully but the uncertainty is extremely difficult when you have a business employing people that rely on you. Flowers are a luxury and will be one of the first items that people will not buy during times like this. These coming weeks and months will no doubt be the most challenging in my career to date.

Before the virus I would have said giving up my lucrative career in Marketing during the recession and starting a new venture at such a time was a massive risk however it was my passion and drive to follow a career that I knew would bring happiness and fulfilment to others and I.

How important of a role do your team play in your business?
Simple- you cannot have a business without your team so the answer to this question is….They play a VITAL role. I would also say that you need to do everything in the business for a period of time before you employ people to help you do it so you can direct your team in the right way. I think you should never ask another person to do something and expect it to be done right unless you have done the job yourself previously.

My team are absolutely key to the daily running of my business, I have six locations including my studio and I cannot be in more than one place at the same time obviously so I rely on my team heavily to make sure everything is carried out as it should be.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
I think the learning you gain from making mistakes along the way is vital to improving your business so I would not change the mistakes, as these ultimately make you better in the long run. I would probably tell myself to not get so stressed sometimes but again sometimes stress is good as it drives you forward.

What has been your biggest business mistake? What lessons did it teach you?
I’ve made plenty of mistakes but again I don’t think mistakes are a bad thing as they drive you to be better and you would never make the same mistake twice!

What has been your biggest achievement?
Taking the plunge to change my career has been my biggest achievement as it was not easy but I followed the path because I adore flowers and it has brought me a lot of happiness and also created jobs for others in a field they also love.

I am very lucky to have also opened three flower shops and two pop-up stands. I have also been nominated for the Image Magazine Creative Business women of the year for four years in a row.

What woman in business inspires you the most?
All women in business inspire me because it is not easy and it’s only when you work for yourself that you understand that. I especially admire Mother’s who run businesses as it’s a huge challenge to look after your kids along with running a business.

Having just had my baby girl, I can totally understand it now but I have to lean on my team a little more as looking after her while she is so young is my main priority so my team is especially important now.


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