Most landscape business owners start out doing way too many things themselves and wearing way too many hats. From CEO to CFO to sales and customer service, you spend so much time focusing on every single detail of running your business that you can feel you don’t have a chance to actually step back and focus on actually growing it.
Maybe the reason you do this is because you can’t justify the expense of hiring people to fill these roles. Maybe you feel it’s faster to just complete the tasks yourself. Or maybe you have the people in place to do the work but you’re massively under-utilizing them. Maybe you even fear that no one will be able to do the tasks as well as you do.
Well, know this: You’re not alone.
At the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Leaders Forum in January, a panel of landscape business CEOs answered some tough questions from other landscape professionals, opening up the room to a wealth of knowledge about business lessons learned. When asked to reveal their biggest business mistake, nearly all of the panelists said doing too much themselves and not delegating tasks sooner was a big blunder.
For instance, Paul Fraynd realized just a year or two ago that “I wasn’t getting out of the way and delegating to set my people up to be successful,” says the CEO of Sun Valley Landscaping, a 50- employee firm based in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I had this fear that if I let go I wouldn’t be valuable anymore,” he says.
While it’s true that the more people involved in the decision-making the longer it takes, engaging people is how you develop them, shares Erica Dawson, director of leadership programs at Cornell.
And even though delegating is a risk at times because business owners aren’t sure if the person is up to the task, entrepreneurs must get past this fear because risks are necessary for business growth.
Want to take that next step in delegating more to your key employees? “Start small,” suggests Jeffrey Moses, National Federation of Independent Business. “Take things one step at a time by starting with smaller, less important tasks,” he says. “As your experience with delegating progresses, you’ll feel more comfortable assigning larger projects, and you’ll be better at the delegation process.”
And, since you’re unlikely to turn into a hands-off manager overnight, set employees up for success by “establishing written descriptions of the tasks you are delegating, so your employees understand every detail,” he advises. Descriptions of tasks should include: methods, goals, means of accomplishment (finances, employees, equipment, etc.), quality of work done, means to define that quality and timelines for completion of each stage of work.
As best-selling business book author Honoree Corder says: “Most small business owners and service professionals are doing way too many things that they could, and should, be delegating to someone else. Delegating is critical to your future success. Start today by investing in yourself: Use your time and money to set yourself up for that future success by engaging those individuals who can make your business success, and life, easier.”