Needed and Known

How to Turn a Dream into a Business

July 14, 2021 Cassandra Roberts / Ericka Barreto of Hartworks Floral Season 1 Episode 8
Needed and Known
How to Turn a Dream into a Business
Show Notes Transcript

You've got a really great idea. And some self-doubt. And tons of fear. But your dream has the nerve to wake you up first thing every morning with new ideas. 

Ericka gets it. She was told "no" many times. And in the middle of a pandemic when her industry was struggling, she tried to buy a business. 

In this episode you will learn how to rally your troops to help you fight the "no's" and some of Ericka's quick tips on how others can help propel you in ANY industry.

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Check out the Full Episode on NeededandKnown.com

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Cassandra:

Hey friend, it's Cassandra, and this is needed and known the podcast where we show you how to have joyful relationships and meaningful conversations through life-changing stories. Have you ever wondered what it looks like in real life to pursue a dream? Not the sales pitch of here's how I make a billion dollars a month, but the real work is done. Overcoming fear and freaking out to your people dream I'm introducing you to Erica will share her journey and some friendly advice she's picked up on her way to being one of the leading florists in Southern California.

Ericka:

Thanks so much for having me.

Cassandra:

So take us on this journey with you. Where did youstart?

Ericka:

Well, I went to school to be an interior designer. So I started out as a commercial interior designer in San Diego. And did that for a couple of years, went on to become a design assistant. And then I just tinkered in a bunch of different positions trying to find something I was passionate about. Never really landing on it. But I worked as a assistant manager for a bookstore, did a lot of buying and merchandising for them. I worked as a department assistant at one time. I was an event coordinator at one time. So I kind of just bounced around for a while, trying to figure out what I wanted to do.

Cassandra:

That sounds really fun and beautiful. What really drove you to do all of that?

Ericka:

I did not want to have. A nine to five. That was like the biggest thing for me. I am a creative and I functioned very well with different experiences. So I don't want to sit at a desk all day. Sit at a desk for half a day and then go do something else. So I was constantly filling my time. While I was working in the bookstore part-time I was nannying part-time so that I was doing different things and I was able to move around and stuff.

Cassandra:

Were there any like fears or things that you told yourself like to make you believe you had to have a full-time job or what sounds like over a full-time job?

Ericka:

I did that a lot for. Up until I turned 26, I was kicked off my parents' health insurance. So that was the day I knew I had to go get a real full-time job, a real full-time job.

Cassandra:

The game changer, I need insurance.

Ericka:

I'm such a critical, like a logistical critical thinker that I was like, okay, now's the time. I didn't know what I wanted to do. That was when I went into that design department assistant position, because I was like, I don't know what I want to do, but I know I need health insurance and I wanted to be able to move out into my own apartment. So I needed to make enough money to be able to afford my own. So those were the two things that got me there. That's what happens when you grow up,

Cassandra:

it made you so you, now you've got bills, you've got insurance, you've got things you need to pay for it. How did it feel to take the leap? I remember you going from full-time to part to more part-time so that you had time to do the things that you were realizing you wanted to do, and that you were really made for. How did that feel? That full-time to part-time transition?

Ericka:

It was relieving, but it was also very stressful for me. I am my biggest critic. I have always been my biggest critic. I hold myself to very high standards very high levels of excellence. So for me it was exciting because I came to a time where I could really focus on things. I was passionate. For, rather than just trying to collect a paycheck. But it was also difficult because I, I wasn't quite meeting my own standards and it, I don't know, it was an interesting season. I was definitely grateful to have people around me who were encouraging me through it because I didn't really know what I was doing. I just knew I was ready for the next thing. Well, that all kind of happened around the time I got married. So my husband's been one of my biggest supporters. It just got a little cheat teary-eyed, which is so weird. But he's been one of my biggest supporters and like I said, I'm hyper critical of myself. So there was a lot of times that I questioned what I was doing. He was always in my ear telling me that it's going to be okay, we're gonna figure it out together. We're going to be able to take the next step together. So he was always a huge support of me. I also had my parents who Or just, you know, in my ear that just because I want things to be done perfectly doesn't mean that they always have to go perfectly. And I think you know, being a believer, that's kind of one of the cool things that the Lord shows us that we don't have to do everything perfectly, even though my standard is really high. It doesn't have to go that way all the time. And so it's really been the people around me that have come to me and reminded me of these things. Cause I need these reminders daily.

Cassandra:

I think, you know, perfectionism is this illusion, right? And it, it always evades us. Cause it doesn't, it doesn't exist in our own power. Like it's not something that we can get to. And so you have this image of your head of what it looks like. So it sounds like you kind of learned to break through. In this process, which sounds very challenging because it's your, it's your life, right? It's your apartment, it's your food. It's everything, because you're hoping that it works. So. Did all of the heavens and angels sing once you started calling yourself a wedding florist, what happened in this next? But I haven't been angels if you mean everyone around me, then yes, that definitely happened because it was kind of crazy.

Ericka:

So I'm a wedding and event florist. And I have, I technically started playing with flowers. I say, because it's an art form where we're practicing all the time. But I started playing with flowers when I was in high school. I took my first class and just as a continued education class for fun, but I really enjoyed it. And I learned the fundamentals, which this was over 10 years now a little bit longer. So. You know, working on this for a long time, but I, I picked up kind of this part-time, you know, doing this on my own three years ago or three and a half years ago now. And it was so funny because a friend encouraged me to to do it for a wedding that she was coordinating and I came alongside her and did the flowers and. Whoa like this, this is people's careers. Like this is something that you could make a living doing. I was so fulfilled. I was so encouraged and we were out in the beating hot sun, you know, creating an arch at the ceremony and I was just so fulfilled. So that was kind of the start of me being a wedding florist, but it wasn't enough to be full-time. I took sometime working a full-time job and doing that as well. And it wasn't until I came to this new opportunity, which we're talking about now, where I finally decided, okay, no, like this is really who I am, and this is the career path that I can see myself going down for. A long time.

Cassandra:

I think, I think that's so that's the way that it goes for a lot of people who, who make that leap right. It's I'm going to stick my toe. I think, you know, the popular terms are side hustle and you know, those kinds of things, what it really is, is like exploring something that you're really passionate about in your, you know, any extra time people can get really hung up. Like you said, like on the perfectionist or like, oh, I'm not a wedding florist. Well, wedding Flores was always. What did, what was the term you used, you playing with flowers, somebody who plays with flowers, like that starts somewhere. So whether you're in your teens or your twenties or your thirties, or even your fifties or sixties, you have to start playing with them or whatever it is somewhere. So I love that. That's what you did. You were like, this is, oh, this is that thing. It's it's a beautiful thing that you dove into that as opposed to like, people will feel that it breaks my heart. Cause people will feel that. And then they're like, this is amazing. And then immediately bring it back down. Like it's too bad. I can't do this more often. And you're like, but you could, like, you just have to, you have to make the time, create the environment for it. Tell people that you did some flowers and I really love. So you start gearing up to buy a business. Can you walk us through that experience?

Ericka:

Definitely. How much time do we have? No, I'm just kidding. Yeah, so through the wonderful year of 2020 it kinda came down to a point where All weddings were canceled or postponed. I had some small elopements, but ultimately it was a year of pause for our industry. And I was kind of trying to decide what route I wanted to go. Honestly, I was like, am I in this? Or am I done? Those are, those were my questions. And my husband and I started looking into, you know, what would send some next steps and opportunities before me. And I. This sounds crazy. Heard about a website where people sell their businesses. I found a business that I wanted to buy and I called them up and went and met them and saw the space. And that's kind of where the journey began. Over the next eight months. We worked through contracts, waste agreements. I had to bring in a lawyer and accountant. I had to get investors. I had to do a lot of work to finally be able to say that I purchased a business. I bought a business and there was so many. Hills and valleys, there was ups and downs. There was good moments, stressful moments. There were seasons months where I was like, is this even happening or is this not happening?

Cassandra:

Okay. So when you, so you've started this process and so do you, do you have like an agent or do you just go like, Hey, I want to, I want to buy a business. Like, how does that. How does that work?

Ericka:

Oh, this is gonna be a whole nother episode. I learned.

Cassandra:

Teach us, teach us

Ericka:

technically, when you are selling a business, you can do private. It's just like, I don't know if it's just like, I never bought a home, but it's similar to buying a home. You could sell it yourself or you can hire a business broker to sell it for you. So that was one of the deep valleys that we experienced in this process. Was she. Had hired a broker to help her sell the business. Long story short, he wasn't actually a broker. And I, I don't know how to tell this in a condensed version, but for the most part he ghosted me and he didn't, he didn't return it.

Cassandra:

So the agent that was representing her was like, you're not a good fit for this.

Ericka:

Yeah. Actually I found out. So when you buy a business, you can have a representative and they can have a representative, I guess, you know, similar to real religious Realtree. So in. It's well, to get to the nitty gritty, they get a 10% commission and either the one person gets it, who's selling and buying and representing both people. Or they have to split it between two brokers and they each get the 5%. So this broker wanted it all for himself. So he was negotiating with me, but he wasn't returning my calls. So I picked up the phone and found another broker and called him and said, what am I doing this wrong? What's going on? This guy offered to call the original broker and do some investigative work for me, pro bono, which was amazing. I had been waiting weeks for a response and within 20 minutes he called me back and said, I just talked to him and he said, you're not qualified. They do not want to go with you. And they're not interested. And I thought, what the heck? Like, okay, that's my answer. This is not going to work.

Cassandra:

You'd met with her.

Ericka:

Right.

Cassandra:

And the business owner and had good rapport. You felt like you were vibing and like, okay, this is going to be a thing. Kind of like, oh, this is something like, oh, we can see the magic. And then you're not a good fit

Ericka:

from based on what the business broker said. So I thought, okay, I'm out. My husband came home from work. I told him the story. And he said, you know what? I, I'd never been in direct contact with her. The owner only this broker, he said, find an email address online, send an email and say, Hey, I'm so sorry if I wasted your time. If you aren't interested, then, you know, I totally understand. I was really excited for this. And if you change your mind in the future, let me. Signed it with my signature, which had my cell phone number on it. And within five minutes, she called me and said, what? That is not the case. I loved you. You were adorable. You're totally the kind of person that I would want to continue my legacy take over my business. I want to move forward with you. I said, okay, we can do that, but I don't want to work with. And we continued moving forward. Just turn I working on this deal.

Cassandra:

This is a classic case of no does not mean no,

Ericka:

exactly. And let me tell you that was the first of probably four nos that I experienced on that eight month journey.

Cassandra:

Are you able to share any of those?

Ericka:

Of course she, so I took over a 2000 square foot, a studio space. It's got two floral studios in it. Two offices, two restrooms. Two entries. It's, it's really cool. It has all of her stuff in it. And I, that was a part of my acquisition. And she had been in this space for 19 years previous to me coming in. And they had gone through three different building owners and she didn't have a, and. And I said, well, I'm not gonna take this over. The space and all of this stuff. It, she has built in coolers. She has industrial sinks. All of these things that I haven't had in my previous space are things that I am acquiring. So I want to ensure that there's a proper lease in place. Yeah, makes sense. Right. So we spent three months trying to get a hold of the landlord, calling, emailing, texting with no response. And it was another hurdle for us to get through because to her she'd been here for 19 years. That's fine. Can you just be okay with that? And to me. You know, no, I need to have a proper lease. I want to know that when I move in, they're not going to evict me the next month. I want to know that, you know, they're okay with a new person coming in. And that was really important to me. So that was the second half of our eight month journey was spent trying to get a proper lease in place. And Literally I signed the lease and the next day I signed a contract or maybe vice versa. I signed a contract with her and the next day I signed the lease for the space because it was that important to me. And that's all we were waiting for to close the deal.

Cassandra:

Having these nos come at you at any point, are you feeling like I might fail at this?

Ericka:

Yes. Yes. Cassandra, I did feel like I might fail at this and ultimately it's It's kind of a crazy story because. I was okay with that. It was totally something that I

Cassandra:

Wait.... A perfectionist is okay with failing?!. This is a whole separate episode. No tell seriously though. How did that tell us what you think happened inside or what you were hearing from around you? How did you

Ericka:

not to be a Jesus freak, but totally my relationship with God. I, I handed this over to him every single morning and I said, Months wanting to fall asleep at 10 o'clock at night,

exhausted to be up at 3:

00 AM with thoughts and questions, and I'd pull out my phone and I'd be jotting down notes and things I need to work on, or, you know I'm very grateful for other people in the industry, connections I've made. And so who should I call tomorrow and ask about where I'm at or. You know, what are resources that I can, I can use to make this happen? Because there's just so many unknowns and I, I didn't know what the outcome was going to be, but like I said, I, I. Gave it back to God every morning. And I said, okay, if this is going to happen, then it's going to happen. And I would love for it to happen. And I'm working really hard to make it happen. But if it doesn't happen, then, you know, we figure out the next thing, 2020 has been a crazy year. And I think a lot of people experienced that. What am I doing with my life? Do we move out of state? Do we start a new career? Like what direction do we want to go with our, with our career path or family or whatever? So, you know, for us, it was like, okay, if this is going to happen, that'd be great. But if it's not going to happen, then I'm ready to move on to the next thing, which is why, when I say. The broker that I found called and said, it wasn't going to work. I was like, okay, great. That's a door that's closed and we're going to move on to the next one. But it's definitely, I mean, don't give me too much credit because it's not, I am a perfectionist and I do want everything to go swimmingly. But this is just, this is just a different experience for me to be like, okay, if it's not going to happen, then it's just not going to.

Cassandra:

That's great. So literally that day that you got the call within 20 minutes, that's that cracks me up. That he called you back within 20 minutes, but he called you back within 20 minutes. And he said, Nope, they you're not qualified for, they they've said you're not qualified for this. So that's what happened. Okay. And then you tell your husband that, and he's like, That seems strange. Cause I think you're very qualified, seemed like that was going to work out just in a little love note and see what happens. And you know, my husband's always like you don't get, if you don't ask what other questions from friends were helpful during this time, as, as opposed to like, Hey Erica, how's that florist thing going? You know what I mean? That's not a helpful question.

Ericka:

I started this thing. In the middle-ish of that journey where I, in the beginning, I didn't know, like, is this going to happen at all? And then there got to a point where she actually had a couple bids and I was one of them and I turned it into her. And I was waiting for her response. I was very passionate about continuing her legacy and pushing on what she's built. She started this company before I was born. So it's been around San Diego for over 30 years. And. In the middle of this journey, I actually started a close friends group on my Instagram and I had 25 or 30 people on there. And I just used it as like a daily journal. Like, Hey, today I did this or today I didn't hear from this person or whatever. And that was honestly one of the coolest things I could've done because. Instead of blasting it out to everyone on my social media, it was a very small group of people that I trusted that I, I loved that loved me. And that encouraged me. And with any post I was, I mean, I think there was like, it started out with maybe 15 or 17 people, and then it ended up growing. I'd mentioned it to people and it ended up growing to about 30 people, but I would share an update. Daily or every other day. And I would just get DMS constantly from people who I didn't even know were paying attention. You know, they're like, oh yeah, add me. And I added them on. And then, you know, they'd be texting me like, oh my gosh, like you're such a boss, babe. Or, you know, I can't believe you're working so hard on this. Or I have a lot of self doubt. So just hearing other people say you're doing a great job, means so much to me. And there was so many people around me that were doing that when once we ended up closing the deal even afterwards I had a hard time believing that this even happened. And even to this day, I'm like, wait, what? Like this is mine. But over the last few months, since we. I have rebranded, I've taken over this 2000 square foot space. As I said, that was lavender and a bit of a hoarder's nightmare with all of the stuff she's accumulated over the years. And I had people here every weekend helping me organize paint, go through stuff. So just that constant support of people around you. Was so helpful in times where I was not giving myself enough grace, there were others around me who were like, Hey, no, you've got this and you're doing the best you can. Or you don't even have control of that. So, you know, let it go and move on to the next thing.

Cassandra:

I love that. That's so good. There are, you know, you've got your network, right? And you've got the people, you have people who are close to you, who will support you and encourage you. And there are people who are close to you who are going to ask those hard questions and are going to discourage you and with good intention, right? Like they have, their heart is in the right place. They want the best for you, but they're like looking out for you in a way that's harmful. And so for that situation, you created a safety net, basically a bubble of this is what I need. This is what I'm going to get. And I'm going to protect myself. In our culture, there's a lot of. Just put it out there. Who cares? What other people say? Well, when you care, what other people say you care it matters. And especially when you're going into an industry where it does matter what people think, because you want to have pretty arrangements. And I'm so proud of you for doing that because I don't think. Enough people protect themselves in that way. And I love that you have intentionally surrounded yourself with people who are supportive and who love you, and who are going to tell you all the things you need to hear because they know your heart and they know your brain. And they know, I know what Ericka is saying to herself, and I'm going to tell her she's a boss, babe.

Ericka:

Yeah. And I, I put that out there. Like I started using. Responses with positive notes because that's, , I don't want you to come off reading something that I say as negative. So I started with a positive note and I think people are super receptive of that. They see that and want to do the same.

Cassandra:

So what advice do you have for people, for individuals who want to pursue a dream? What have you learned that you would like to impart?

Ericka:

There are people. Around you who love themself and love what they do enough to share it with you. People love being complimented. So I just walk around and I meet new people and I'm like, oh my gosh. Yeah. I do know you. I saw you on Instagram, or I know you partnered with this person for this event or whatever, compliment them, and then ask them to meet up or catch up or grab coffee. I want to know more about you or whatever that is. I have found so many fruitful relationships by just asking someone new to go grab coffee. I am a big networker, so I go to networking events a lot. I find that they are actually an enjoyable day off to me, which I know some people do not enjoy them and they would feel very differently. I'll go to a networking event on a day off, I'll meet a new person. And next thing you know, I'm chatting with a florist. Who's opened two retail locations actually bought her first one as a business, just like I'm doing. And I spent an hour FaceTiming with her and learning everything that she learned. For example, just because you're buying a space with a bunch of junk in it doesn't mean it's valuable. It could be just junk that now you have to go through. So I think my encouragement would be to find people that you admire what they're doing and just going into them. Cause they're more than happy to share the information that they've,

Cassandra:

That's really good. That is really good. You know, I'm a big fan of reading and a big fan of learning and growing. So I was reading a book by Brian Grazer who helps start a production company. And then Bob Goff and Donald Miller. Now Bob Goff and Donald Miller know each other, but they don't know Brian Grazer to my knowledge . And they also the same thing they all said, most people genuinely want to help you. If you ask, they will do their best to help you, right? Like people aren't going to give you a millions of dollars, but they will give you their time. And so I think that is such a valuable, valuable tip. What advice would you have for the dreamers, friends and family?

Ericka:

I think that what I learned through this experience is everyone moves at their own pace. And your. Goals or your vision of next steps might not be that person's vision for their next steps. So to give them grace and understanding and encouragement because we all function different differently. I, for example working from home, I am a very slow worker. I get very distracted with household chores and so I would come home some days and my husband. What do you, what'd you get done today? Like, what are you working on? And I'd be like, oh, well I did the dishes or, you know, whatever. And he just had so much grace and understanding with, okay, well, that's where she's at today. And let me tell you, I now. An office and I spend eight to 10 hours here, which is not healthy. I'm working on my boundaries. It's just a very busy season. And I get so much stuff done here because it's just a more productive space for me. So I'm just grateful that he had the space to give me that grace and understanding,

Cassandra:

and we know that you're leaving it there because you just said you don't know how to take it home very well with you. So that's good. Eight to 10 hours for a new business. Sounds okay to start. And you know, so this is that age, 10 hour, seven days. We can talk about this offline. Do you have anything that you want to add?

Ericka:

There was one other piece of advice I had for an individual looking to pursue something. Make sure it's something that you're truly passionate about because ultimately When it gets down to doing something you love. And like I just said, working long, long hours you have to make sure it's worth it for you, for your family, for your, you know, money and All that kind of stuff, because it, it takes a lot of time. There's a quote I love, which says entrepreneur is a person who's up late working a hundred hours for themselves to avoid working 40 hours for someone else,

Cassandra:

Whether you're the dreamer or the friend of a dreamer. I know that Erica had some great notes for you. Remember, you can always get those in the show. Or by going directly to needed a known.com/podcast. Thank you for helping Ericka be needed and known, and you know, the drill. If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a review. Until you need me next time.