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Focus on the Big Picture

By Steve Rak II


Think about your business; I know as business owners sometimes that's all we think about. What comes to mind when you think about your business?

OK, I know all about the problems with employees, customer issues, equipment breakdowns and all of the other day-to-day issues, both the good and the bad.

I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about the big picture. Think about your business, but this time forget all of the day-to-day stuff and concentrate on the big picture.

Don't let the fact that someone was late today cloud your thoughts; get beyond that for a moment. Think about what you want from your business, why you started it in the first place, and what you want it to look like in one year, two years and three years from now.

What goals do you have both personally and professionally? Do they work together or do they compete against each other? Is your business fulfilling your financial needs? Are you fulfilled on a professional level when you think about the accomplishments you have made with your business? What is the vision you have for your business?

I know that I laid a lot on you there, but sometimes we all need to get out of the moment and look beyond where we are right now and think about where we want to go. It's also good to reflect on all of the accomplishments you have made with your business. We all get so caught up in the now, the nagging things of the day, such as the customer that gets under your skin or that competitor who seems to have it all figured out.

Well, I say let not your heart be troubled my fellow landscape company owner friends! You have a company. I know that sounds simple and obvious, but think about it for a minute.

Do you know how many people dream about starting a business? Do you know how many small businesses fail within the first five years? Many do. You are doing something that most people would love to do; you are living the American dream. You own your own business; you are your own boss. There are people working in cubicles right now just wishing they could be where you are.

So what gives? Why am I talking about all of this anyway? Because you have something to be proud of, whether it's just you and a lawn mower right now or whether you have 100 employees and you gross millions of dollars in sales.

You have a business, the good and the bad, profits and flaws, freedom and long grinding hours. And sometimes as business owners we fail to recognize what we have.

Of course it could be better; it can always be better. And that is what I am getting at here. How can we make our business a better version of itself?

When I said to think about your business, that is what I was talking about. You already have the foundation and you just need to build upon it. It doesn't matter where you are in the business lifecycle from startup to established, you have a foundation so use it as a springboard. Use it as a way to make the small improvements that will allow it to become a better version of itself.

Sometimes I think we all believe that we have to reinvent the wheel with our businesses. Restructure, change course, fire everyone and start over. And while there are times when that is warranted, generally a few smaller things will make a dramatic change.

Here are a few examples that have helped me within my business:

1. Hiring a key player that took some things off my plate and allowed me to move into another level of leadership.

2. Developing specific job descriptions for every position in my company.

3. Putting together a training power point for all new hires so they know how we do things and what is expected of them at Southwest Landscape Management.

4. Going to every seminar, class and trade show that I could so I could stay ahead of the trends.

5. Working with mentors and consultants that were strong in areas where I needed help.

6. Believing in myself, believing in my company and believing in my team.

Our companies are always changing, whether we are the ones facilitating that change or not it still will happen. As owners we have to be the ones who guide the direction of our companies. It's important to remember that we have something that is already pretty great, something other people only dream about. It's our responsibility as owners to nurture what we have and make it a better version of itself. Peace.

The author is the owner of Southwest Landscape Management, Columbia Station, Ohio, and a partner with his brother, Jeff, in Rak Consulting. Contact him at steve@sw-landscape.com.