If you think the year ahead looks uncertain, business coach Daniel Fitzpatrick is here to say that you can make the difference between a good or a bad 12 months
The past couple of years have been anything but normal thanks to the lingering threat of Covid restrictions combined with supply shortages, inflation and, now, talk of a recession.
Will things go pear-shaped this year? Maybe. One thing I do know is that success starts with mindset.
Having the right mindset can help you take advantage of any economic condition to come out on top with a spectacularly successful business and competitors left behind in the dust.
At the very least, having the right mindset can help you sleep soundly at night, knowing you’ve got things fully under control with work lined up, solid income and cash in the bank.
So, what will it take to lead your company through the fallout?
Here are a few tips:
1. You must own everything in your world
Navy seal Jocko Willink says good leaders don’t make excuses – they figure out a way to get things done. When you’re on a mission, there are things you’ve got control over and things you don’t.
For example, you don’t have control over the weather. If your mission requires a helicopter, but you can’t fly, then guess what? Find another way. Take the Jeep.
Your job is to complete the mission, even when there are obstacles. It’s easy to point fingers when things don’t go to plan. We’ve all been there.
The truth? No matter what situation you find yourself in, you alone are responsible for the success or failure of your business. There is no one else to blame.
Success requires you think differently. Take extreme ownership – of your actions, the actions of your team, of everything that will impact the result.
Control what you can control. Find another way when you can’t.
2. Write down your fears, not your goals
To achieve your goals, you must take action toward them. If you’re not taking action, then you have to figure out why.
Are there higher-level tasks you’ve been putting off? If so, it’s probably because your brain is telling you those tasks are going to be unpleasant, dangerous, painful or harmful. The answer is, get it down on paper. Bring the facts into the cold hard light of day. Then you can see exactly what you’re dealing with.
Sometimes you gotta look the monster in the eye. Then it’s not so bad.
How much did you really make off that last job? What do you owe the IRD? What are your options? Why are you killing yourself to meet that deadline?
I’ve helped hundreds of tradies find non-scary answers to questions like these.
The worst thing you could do right now is freeze or freak out over every little thing. Instead, make a new rule that you’ll address things head on. That will help you see the danger ahead and avoid it.
3. No one is born with business skills
If you’re like most landscapers, your focus is to work hard, deliver quality, do right by clients and build your reputation. That’s awesome. But it’s not enough...
That’s because a busy tradie is not always a profitable one.
When quoting your price, does it ever feel too high? So you adjust it down a bit? This is the part where you get stuck working a job there’s no money in.
What can you do about it? If margins are slipping, cashflow is uncomfortably tight, or staff are making too many mistakes, seek out better methods for getting where you want to be.
Challenge yourself to think more like a business owner and do what’s best for the company. That means you need to gain a deeper understanding of your numbers. Set up KPIs and targets. Build structure.
Here’s the thing: no one is born with all the skills to run a landscaping business successfully. Business skills need to be taught or learnt.
Ask yourself: “Am I open? Am I actively learning?” Success leaves clues. So, look at others who are successful and work out why.
Consider for a moment: “Who do I have to be, to have the results I want?” Imagine yourself as that person – the best version of you as a business owner.
How you see yourself will always limit your results. When you act, your subconscious works hard to make the outcome line up with what you’re expecting.
So, make sure you see yourself as a highly capable business owner, as well as a highly capable landscaper.
4. Grab opportunities with both hands
As Kiwis, we’re always fighting the tendency to lean back, wait and see how things pan out before making a move.
Problem: If you wait too long, you might miss your chance.
My advice is to grab opportunities with both hands. We don’t know what’s ahead, so take what you can now and build your war chest.
Build up everything you need for the tough times ahead. What’s in your war chest? A big fat cash reserve, for starters.
But your war chest isn’t just money, it’s also about building your network and customer base, as well as skills and processes within your team - make them reliable, efficient and accountable.
Got more work than you can handle? If the numbers stack up, go for it and hire more help. Take bigger and better jobs while they’re available.
If things change later, you can always re-adjust. That’s business, we’re always making adjustments.
First thing is: Pay attention, don’t get bogged down, don’t get so busy you can’t see what you’re missing out on!
Shift your mindset: This is a time to lean in. Don’t be reckless, but actively seek the right opportunities to get ahead.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
5. Being in business is a way to buy back your time
Think of your business as an investment and make decisions accordingly. What kind of return-on-investment are you happy with?
Success has to be on your terms. Being in business for yourself comes with a heap of risk and hard work and you should get a return on your dollar. It’s also about balance. You haven’t really attained success until you’ve got a well-balanced life.
It’s easy to slip into the “too busy to take a day off” mentality. Anyone who is self-employed knows the struggle. Lines between work and home are blurred and everything feels urgent.
Fair enough, but habits have consequences.
It’s fine to work massive hours playing catch up, but only for a while. When weeks turn into months – and months turn into years – it’s time to remind yourself why you went into business in the first place and carve out some time for family.
And frankly, for your company to come through this in good shape, you need to be in good shape: Healthy, well-rested, calm, in control.
Finally, remember this:
You’re an exception to the rule.
If you run a landscaping business, you already face hundreds of unknowns in day-to-day business. The rest of the world may be fearful – they don’t know what will happen next.
But you? You’ve lived with uncertainty for years. You were made for unpredictable times. You live here. You’ve got this.
Need to figure out your next move? Let’s have a chat to see how I can help: nextleveltradie.co.nz/nextstep/
Trades business coach Daniel Fitzpatrick has been helping tradies increase profits and win back their weekends since 2010.
Need some help to get your team performing at the highest level? Book a free strategy chat with Next Level Tradie director Daniel Fitzpatrick here: nextleveltradie.co.nz/nextstep