If you could start your landscape business over again, what changes would you make? LawnSite member Michael Ray recently asked this question on our online forum in a post titled, “If you started again tomorrow…” His peers had quite a bit of insightful advice.

  • “Learn how to say, ‘No,’ to jobs or customers that weren’t the right fit.”
  • “Specialize in one area and not try to do everything.”
  • “I would have started sooner.”
  • “I would have started out doing nothing but lawn care applications and blower mulch installation – none of this no-profit maintenance work.”
  • “The No. 1 thing I would do differently is have a clear understanding of how cash flows through a business. I have seen plenty of profitable businesses go down because of cash flow problems.”
  • “I’d never take a customer at their word and get everything in writing.”

Looking beyond the landscape industry, other small business owners feel similarly. The Alternative Board recently conducted a survey of hundreds of small business owners to find out what changes they’d make if they could start over.

Strategic planning, marketing and sales were some of the most common areas where business owners wished they had spent more time and resources.

Specifically, given the chance to start again, survey respondents would devote more hours to:

  • Strategic planning (27 percent)
  • Sales (20 percent)
  • Marketing/advertising/PR (18 percent)
  • Recruiting and training employees (11 percent)

And they would spend more money on:

  • Marketing/advertising/public relations (20 percent)
  • Recruiting and training employees (18 percent)
  • Sales (17 percent)
  • Strategic planning (15 percent)

Operations, technology investments and product development were all ranked low on the wish list.

Arguably, strategic planning, which made the top four list in both questions, encompasses everything from sales to operations to advertising to marketing to public relations to growth strategies, so spending hours creating a well-thought-out roadmap for the future could prove to be time well spent.