This month was my fifteen year anniversary as a coach and consultant in the lawn and landscape industry.
I received “congrats” over LinkedIn, and it inspired me to jot down 15 powerful business lessons that steered my success.
Here they are, with applications to you and your business.
- “Find your niche and double down”. Don’t be a generalist. This has worked tremendously for me, and it can work for you too (unless your company is in a small population area.)
- “Be willing to pivot.” If your niche changes dramatically or doesn’t work anymore, be willing to pivot and focus on another niche. I have made two big pivots, each time helping me get more focused until I found the “right” niche. Don’t be afraid to make a change if a niche is not working for you.
- “Become the best.” Don’t just become pretty good at something, but be freaking awesome. Become the best at something that your clients really need. I have a few specialties that I am constantly reinvesting in and getting better, and thus my clients are constantly benefiting from this. All companies in any industry need to think this way.
- “Always be marketing.” In good times and bad. Be in the marketing game for the long haul. My clients tell me “they see me everywhere.” Your clients should tell you the same thing.
- “What’s in the client’s best interest?” When I have an important decision, big or small, I ask myself this question. You can use this to guide your growth and decision making. It will keep you client centric and client friendly.
- “Sell with leadership.” Don’t be afraid to tell your prospects “that’s a bad idea” or “Here is the issue I see.” As my friend used to say, “poke ’em in the eye” when discussing their situation. For you this means “be a leader when selling.” Good clients want to buy from leaders.
- “Walk the talk.” I follow my own advice I give my clients. Unfortunately, not every consultant does. I do this because its sound advice. “Teaching by showing” makes it real. Do you follow the advice you give your employees and clients?
- “Listen and grow.” Your clients will tell you what new products and services they want, if you engage closely with them. But don’t do every idea. Just the ones that make sense in the long view.
- “Be generous and quality focused.” Don’t be cheap, it makes you look weak; instead be generous. And charge enough so your clients will take you seriously, so you can do high quality work. Clients get more value from their relationship with you when you are a worthy partner.
- “Don’t dumb down.” Educate up. If you have concepts, and tools that will help your employees and clients, stick with them and people up. But don’t be complex either. You need to “make smart things look simple.”
- “Everything is a system”. Make systems out of the simple repeatable actions you do internally and with your clients. Build these up over time, not as a one-time project. This has helped me greatly, and it can help you too.
- “Name it.” Brand and name the things important to your business, that you want your team to remember and never take for granted. Brand your values, name your key internal processes, etc., and extend this to your clients where it makes sense.
- “Work for people you like and respect”. Don’t build a company where you complain about every other client. That way work doesn’t feel like work. This also means never work for people who don’t respect you. Your clients should buy into your vision and mission.
- “What’s next?” Always be asking this, with yourself, with your clients and with your team. It will keep everyone young, engaged and delivering more value.
- “Rub shoulders with leading edge peers.” Not only do I offer peer group services in the green industry, but I am also part of a peer group with other professional consultants (in other niches). It keeps me sharp. I walk the talk!
Your challenge: Pick one of these that resonate with you to implement as a team.
Review this list with your leadership team, find where you excel, and where you need to put more effort.
The Louisiana French have a word “lagniappe”, something given as a bonus, like a baker’s dozen. Here is my lagniappe for you, one more lesson that’s helped me greatly.
#16: “Never stop studying.” Ever. Read books, newspapers and magazines, both in your niche and outside of it. Be a perennial student and you will become a master. Read fiction and non fiction to really broaden your worldview.
Thank you for the fifteen years of support.
Here is to you, and fifteen more years of success for you, your family and your company!