February 4, 2010
November 2009 - Waiting for Godot
By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager
At the risk of stirring up remembrances of boring English classes in your school days, I recall (and perhaps might you) a play by Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot (pronounced Gou-dough) is one of the most significant English language plays of the 20th century. Although plays and poetry aren’t even remotely within my realm of interest, this story could well have been written about many business owners in our industry.
According to Wikipedia, “This story follows two days in the lives of a pair of men who divert themselves while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance, but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide – anything ‘to hold the terrible silence at bay.’” I speak with hundreds of business owners each year, who in a sense are waiting for their Godot. They wait expectantly, and often unsuccessfully, for profit to magically improve, and for solutions to the headaches and stress of their business to suddenly appear. When I watch business owners dance their way around the uncertain (therefore desperately avoided) lessons of business improvement, it reminds me of this play over and over again.
Here’s the news flash: You can learn how to think differently about your business this winter. It’s that simple. Honest. In one day, the Introductory Prosperity Partners seminar can change how you think about your business. It will start you on solid ground in order to move ahead next year to a better business season.
This month’s feature company owner learned lessons from our program to effectively improve his business. I hope by reading his answers below, you will be inspired to stop ‘waiting’ for something that will not appear, unless you are clear on what it looks like when it arrives. And, know what you can do to effectively make it happen.
Feature company: Ryan Heath Professional Landscaping
Ryan Heath established his business in 2003, after completing his university education in biology and geology. Operating as a design-build and bid-build firm, the company he created also offers snow and ice management. Serving York Region and the north end of Toronto, in the peak season the business now has eight field staff and one person serving in the office.
Q. What is your company vision, and what are you ultimately attempting to create?
A. Our vision is to spread joy through the imagination and implementation of beauty and function. By building lasting relationships with our customers, we ensure that we are their one source for the best quality landscape they can afford.
Q. What are the core values that are non-negotiable in your everyday business dealings?
A. Professionalism, creativity, happiness. We look at everyday as an opportunity for our actions to make positive and lasting impressions on everyone we interact with: clients, neighbours and suppliers.
Q. What things most often keep you awake at night?
A. I often find myself dreaming of the next day’s work and making lists of things that my employees might forget or overlook. In this way, I have a tendency to micro-manage my crews. As a company, we do need to work on aspects of leadership, especially as it relates to delegating and accountability. As we work on detailing the processes within our organization, many of these day-to-day activities will be addressed.
Q. What stuck with you the most from the Prosperity Partners Introductory seminar?
A. It helped me not only figure out what stage of maturity my company was at, but to realize the importance of planning and developing resources in areas of business that aren’t my specialty, or that I have a tendency to avoid. After the introductory seminar, I found myself taking the financial CLP guide off the shelf and giving it a second look. It was the first time since I wrote the CLP exam that I have looked at the financial guide, and it hasn’t left my desk since.
Q. How have you been able to apply the things you learned to improve your business?
A. I find that I budget my time better, now that I understand where my time is best spent. I also feel that I have more support from within my organization, as well as from others in the industry now that I have a framework to improve my business. I have also gone through much of the Prosperity Partners material with my key staff and have found that it has gotten me more ‘buy-in’ from them now that they are involved in more than just the day-to-day activities of the business.
Q. What are your next steps to improve your business, and did the program help you to clarify them?
A. I try to take every available opportunity for business training (especially if it’s free!), whether industry-related (from LO, SIMA, suppliers, manufacturers) or from other sources (BizLaunch seminars from Staples, seminars and web information from Telus, Scotiabank, etc.). Sometimes these seminars can be a little overwhelming, so I just try to leave each one with the goal of implementing a single new idea the next day. That new idea likely won’t change my business overnight, but it keeps staff on their toes, and they learn to expect change and improvements. It didn’t take my staff long before they were presenting their own improvements.
I hope you will join the hundreds of business owners who are benefiting from this unique training. Join the Prosperity Partnership with seminars in every chapter around the province this fall and winter. Please go to www.horttrades.com/prosperityto find out more.
Jacki Hart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.