When the flower shop where she worked closed, Amy McManus figured she could open her own in the Baltimore neighborhood of Canton, which lies along the city’s outer harbor. It didn’t faze her that she had only three years of retail floral experience.

“This was an opportunity,” McManus tells NerdWallet. “I needed something at that time in my life that was exciting.”

McManus had no clue how to run a shop. But she developed a business plan for Crimson & Clover Floral Design with help from a counselor at SCORE, the SBA-backed nonprofit that offers free mentoring to small businesses. She learned on the job, constantly referring to her business plan in the early years.  She ran into frustrations and obstacles, including zoning issues and trouble with a lease. But today, McManus has attracted a local following for her design work at events and weddings. The retail shop is also doing well at a bigger location in a newer part of the city, McManus says.

Starting and operating a profitable floral shop isn’t all about smelling the roses. As with many retail businesses, technology has changed the way people buy flowers. The margins can be thin on some orders, and inventory management can be difficult because flowers are perishable.

“This is a tough business,” says Paul Goodman, president of Floral Finance Business Services in Jenks, Oklahoma. “Not many people make much money because it doesn’t get big enough or it isn’t run well.”

Still, the floral business can pay off.

You can earn a salary — including taxes and benefits — worth 10% of annual sales of up to $500,000, Goodman tells NerdWallet. For sales above half a million, tack on another 5%. On top of that, you can also earn 10% in profit off the bottom line if you manage your business well, he says.

So let’s say you run a shop generating $500,000 in yearly sales, you can take $50,000 in salary and another $50,000 in profit.

A retail floral shop generates on average $362,318 in annual revenue, according to the Society of American Florists, a trade group that represents growers, wholesalers and retail florists. But the majority of florists most likely bring in $200,000 or less in annual sales, Goodman says. That would add up to $20,000 in salary and a possible $20,000 profit.

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