5 crucial actions when you start a successful landscape business

One of the easiest things to do once you’ve started a landscape business is to dive right into the immediate projects at hand and plug away at every job that comes your way. It’s also one of the least productive things you can do, in the long run.

Wait, how can getting jobs done not be productive?

Because getting jobs done is not Job Number One, which is building your business – and you do that by working on business development from day one. Of course, that does NOT mean you shouldn’t be concerned about selling and completing projects on a timely basis – that’s vital for keeping your clients happy and creating positive cash flow. What it does mean is that you also need to carve out time to actively work on the business aspects of your fledgling company – new business development, payroll, accounts payable and receivable, and so on.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

The Top 5 things to do before you start a landscape business

Many people start a landscape business looking to make a killing. But, sadly, the only thing they end up killing, is the business. Why is this and how can you avoid it if you're seriously thinking about making the leap yourself?

First and foremost, you should not – and really cannot –start and grow a business that’s entirely about making money. It has to be about something else. If you’re thinking of launching a landscape business, you better be doing it because you love the idea of creating something beautiful, functional, and lasting on the land using plants and all manner of materials not to mention getting your hands dirty. The money comes after that. Why? Because if it's about the money first, the tail ends up wagging the dog and everything you do is colored by the desire to squeeze money out of it. Your decision-making becomes based on profits, not pleasing your clients. And that's no way to grow and sustain a landscape business successfully. And don’t get me wrong here - profit must be on the priority list - it’s just dangerous to make it the only priority.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

5 Reasons To NOT Start a Landscape Business

A surprising number of people think that just because they can clean up their yard, put down some mulch, and maybe even create a garden, it makes sense to go out and try to make money working in other people’s yards. Okay, I get it. That’s a great way to make some money in high school or college. It’s how my husband, Chris, and I both got our first taste of the business, so I have full respect for that.

If, however, you plan to do this for real - as in your career - you better be ready to build “mad skills”. Let’s start with plants.

It’s difficult – if not impossible – to be a successful landscape professional and not know at least the basics about plants. How can you properly design, install, prune or maintain things you can’t even name?

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

Learning to Cope: 3 Tips to help you take a temporary step away from your landscape business

John Lennon once famously said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." This, unfortunately, can be true for running a landscaping business. Sometimes life simply gets in the way and derails even the best-laid plans – unexpected medical emergencies, family calamities, and other "whoa, I wasn't expecting THAT" moments that can require you to let go of the reins and depend on others temporarily to take care of the daily business needs.

So, if you have to step away from your landscape business because of a life event, who has your back?

If you’ve done your homework right in setting up your business and hiring the right people, your team is already aligned with the business in general and each other in particular. They’ve got the synergies that enable them to say “no problem, we’ve got this.”

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscape Business?

Starting any new business can be a sleep-depriving, nail-biting experience for anyone, and starting a new landscape business is certainly no different. It takes time, money, perseverance and sometimes a lot of luck.

One of the frustrations I hear from landscape start-ups is that money always seems to be going out faster than it’s coming in. Freshly-minted landscape professionals complain that every time they turn around they have to buy something just to get the job done.

My response to all of the challenges and issues that can arise with starting a new landscape business is the same to every new owner: take the time to write a good business plan.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

3 Critical Tools You Should Be Using When Hiring Subcontractors

The use of subcontractors is a time-honored means for landscape designers and contractors to control overhead and keep operations lean and mean. But subcontractors can be a double-edged sword that can work for you or against you if you are not aware of potential pitfalls.

It all starts with setting the stage properly for your working relationship. It’s important to clearly articulate the parameters and expectations for working with your company – and then holding subs accountable for working within those parameters and delivering on those expectations.

If you’re clear about your service offering and the resources you have in-house, then you’ll know exactly what help you’ll need to get from subs. That should enable you to easily craft a document that outlines your specific needs for a particular subcontractor and your expectations for receiving that assistance.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

5 Reasons why you need to invest in ALL your employees

Every business seems to have one or two employees who stand out. They’re the ones who show up early and stay late. They’re focused on doing the best job possible and are always looking for ways to improve. These are the employees that landscape business owners and managers gravitate toward, encouraging them, and focusing their attention on these superstars because they’re the ones helping the company succeed.

And why not? Everyone loves a superstar. They’re often the hero in situations where others would just shrug and look for the easiest way out. The superstars revel in being the go-to person when a job or task needs to get done. This, of course, makes you, the owner, grateful to have that kind of support and reliability when the going gets tough. It’s very easy to lean on this one person and focus your time and energy on nurturing them.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business

How To Find The Perfect People For Your Landscape Organization

There is no question that the landscape industry is a people business. As an owner, you have to build relationships with clients and hire the right employees who can interface with them to maintain and grow those relationships.

As I shared in the last Academy Blog, the company culture is a critical element in your business success. So the big question, now that you know that culture is so important, and now that you’ve gotten clear on your company’s mission, purpose and values is this…

What Type of Landscape Team Should You Build?

How to hire good employees is one of the top three major issues I hear about over and over again from other landscape business owners. Hiring in the landscape industry tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate need for working hands.

Desperate to hire somebody – anybody – landscape business owners often end up operating in what I call “a land of misfit toys,” hobbled by a mix-and-match group of individuals with misaligned values and goals. It is just impossible to build a culture of success around those ingredients. In fact, I’ve identified three basic types of poorly-conceived landscape teams that cause business owners unnecessary and avoidable suffering.

Landscape Business Burn Out: How to Recognize It and Avoid It

In recent years the medical community has discovered that stress is more harmful to our physical and mental well-being than previously thought. Chronic stress is a killer and its insidious effects can creep up on unsuspecting individuals and begin causing problems before they realize it.

What does this have to do with landscaping, you ask? A lot. While many might think high-stakes, high-profile jobs such as Fortune 500 CEO, surgeon, or police officer, for example, might have cornered the stress market, the fact is all of us can be affected by stress and that includes landscape business owners.

In fact, feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, isolation, exhaustion, annoyance -- the list goes on -- are all complaints I hear often from colleagues, students, and my coaching clients. These feelings feed stress and ultimately create a state of burnout in which you no longer feel as if you can cope or go on. Burnout causes business failure in all industries – and that includes landscaping.

Topics: Building A Better Landscape Business