WARREN -- Most people start a business by taking one of their strong skills or interests and attempting to turn it into a money-making proposition.
Audra Zajac was different -- she simply wanted her own business, any business.
A little over a year ago, she bought Heritage Florists on East Market Street near Trumbull Memorial Hospital. The flower shop has been around for about 25 years.
"I had absolutely no experience running a florist business, but I do have a good business acumen," Zajac said.
One reason she wanted her own business was so she could spend time with her growing children, 10 and 4.
"Since I didn't have any training in flowers, I sent my mother, Cherie Truckly, to floral design school. I couldn't possibly go because the course consisted of 11 straight 10-hour session days. I could not be away from my children that long," Zajac said.
Her mother lives in Ashtabula and commutes to Warren daily.
Zajac, her husband, David, and their children also lived in Ashtabula before moving to Cortland.
"I worked for a manufacturing company in Ashtabula for 13 years. I helped run the company and did everything from sales to production to scheduling," she said.
Wanted to buy it: She made an attempt to buy the manufacturing company, but it did not work out. "My husband is an accountant in Akron, and when my plans to buy the manufacturing company fell through, we decided to move somewhere where we would have an equal commute between Akron for him and a potential business for me," Zajac said.
The Zajac family moved from Ashtabula to Cortland. "When we moved to Cortland, I became friends with Jody Sova, a local Realtor, and I asked her to begin looking for business opportunities for me," said Zajac.
Sova came up with 10 or 12 ideas for Zajac to explore. "I also worked with a broker from Canton who specializes in finding businesses for people to buy," Zajac said.
What to do: "When you work with a Realtor or broker you tell them your price range and in the meantime, you go to a bank and get preapproved for a loan amount in case you need to borrow money for the venture," she explained.
Zajac has seen her business steadily grow over the past year. "As a newcomer to the community, I felt it was important to become involved, so I joined the Warren Rotary. It has really helped me to get to know the area and the people here," she said.
When she took over the business, she kept one of the floral designers who had worked for the previous owner. She also has four other employees, including her mother.
"We have lots of competition, but I feel we have an excellent product at an extremely reasonable price," she said.