Ever feel like you’re not reaching your full potential as a landscape business owner? Maybe you’re not making enough mistakes. Yes, mistakes.
If, as an owner, you are too worried about making mistakes as you grow your business, then you’re not reaching your full potential.
Don’t worry about the number of mistakes you might make or be too self-conscious about making them to move forward. Instead, imagine your customers and your team are curious to hear what creative solution you’ll come up with next. The ones that work give you a reputation as an innovator and the ones that don’t work give you a chance to learn and improve.
You know your job; now have confidence to try ideas to improve your job.
Here’s a checklist to show how owners can make smart mistakes to improve their businesses.
1. Dare mistakes to happen. Freezing to avoid mistakes is not growing. Learning comes from listening to helpful feedback and feedback comes when you’re in motion. Mistakes become teachers when we recognize, communicate and implement course corrections.
2. Consider values and objectives. Planning only for immediate challenges leads to frequently having to change shortsighted plans. Weigh ideas against long-range goals and organizational values and be willing to take risks to achieve those worthwhile objectives and values.
3. Don’t kill an idea with research. Begin when you have a reasonable fraction of data you think you need. The rest of the information will come as feedback when you’re in motion; you’re expected to make adjustments as you learn. Standing still to gather the last tidbits of information is indecision and some of the information you’ve gathered may even be outdated by the time you begin.
4. Make team decisions. When team members have input into a choice, they’re committed to making their plan succeed. If a mistake looms, they’re committed to making corrections rather than assigning blame.
5. Take calculated risks. Safe plans have lower learning potential. When you see an opportunity, leap at it. Whether succeeding brilliantly or going “splat,” you’ll have learned what happens when you do that and generated new feedback to enhance your learning. Remember to thank people for their feedback, regardless of whether it was delivered kindly or soaked in vinegar. Then, let people (especially your team) know what you learned and what you’ll do differently next time.
6. Serve your customer. Correct decisions and mistakes are each made on behalf of your customer. Let them know how wise and brave they were when risks succeed and how confident they can be with your corrective actions when you notch a magnificent mistake. Any explanations you must make will make sense when you’re in service of your customer.
7. Be accountable. The game is “no blame.” If a risk turns out to be a mistake, take accountability and spearhead the effort to correct the outcome and document what you learned.
8. Share credit; be responsible. When risks pull through with no major mistakes, spread credit lavishly, making sure top management hears about the team achievement. Not merely so that others enjoy working with you, but because learning isn’t only from correcting mistakes — people also learn and are inspired by seeing what it looks like when they get credit for mistake-free work.
Risk analysis isn’t about avoiding risk; it’s about identifying obstacles and knowing what you’ll do when problems come up. Having a Plan B and even Plan C makes it more likely your exploration will carry the twin labels of educational and successful.