Decisions: Will Wynne, Arena flowers

The co-founder of the online flower retailer gives his best and worst decisions in business.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 07 Aug 2015

MY BEST DECISION:

Is best summarised by a line from one of my favourite films, Zombieland. It's about a guy who has a list of rules to survive when zombies have taken over. One of them is 'don't be a hero'.When I first started my business, I sat in the middle of the customer services team, I worked long hours, I didn't take any exercise and I drank to medicate myself. I remember talking to one of my friends and saying: 'This business is doing my head in completely.' He asked me to talk him through my working situation. I said: 'Well, there are phones ringing all the time.' He replied: 'Why are you sitting in the most stressful part of the business? Why don't you try not working seven days a week and not doing 16-hour days?' Put like that, it seemed obvious.

I realised that trying to be macho about running a business is counterproductive. You make poor decisions because of it. These days, I make sure I get enough sleep, and I pay people to deal with the most difficult customers, because it gives me space. Trying to be a hero is bad.

MY WORST DECISION:

Was to go into a really awkward business. I always knew that I wanted to start my own firm; we went into flowers because my business partner Steve had experience in the industry, and because it hadn't been done very well on the internet.

What we didn't realise is that it's a massive pain in the arse: you've got to handle a product that you're flying in from abroad, so it's expensive, and flowers are perishable as well, so you've got to keep them cool. They've got to be delivered on the correct day - Valentine's Day flowers the day after are no good, and if you've got roses left over on the 15th, it's a massive waste of money because you spent so much buying them in the first place.

Flowers are also really invested with emotion. Back when we first started the business, one guy sent flowers to his missus asking her to marry him, and they got smashed to pieces. She turned him down. That wasn't a great day at work. So it's really hard work, and it has taken ages to get even halfway good at it. My business partner has got a lot to answer for.

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