July 13, 2012
The lid just blew off

By Jacki Hart CLP Prosperity Partners program manager

Many of you are looking at dormant turf and soil instead of snow, at the time I am writing this in mid-March.

One thing of which we can be certain, the weather patterns are predictably unpredictable and will stay that way. So, as many of you ramp your businesses up earlier than perhaps ever before, we’re in the same boat together — spring has sprung earlier than we thought, drastically cutting down on our planning, hiring and training time.

If this applies to you and your business, you’re not alone. The trick for all of us is to get our rhythm right off the start, and make sure that we don’t let this early warm weather catch us flat footed and unprepared. It’s hard enough to manage the stress of spring in our industry without starting off behind the eightball.

One of the best ways to get it together fast is to step back, instead of charging ahead. It’s counter-intuitive but it’s worth every minute. Take a moment to consider the following advice, which you might have read before:
• Grab a pad of paper and pen, and write five headings across the page: Financial affairs, Selling and quoting, Operations planning, The one everyone comes to, and Customer relations. • Under each heading, first write down how you score yourself in this area on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is perfect, and one is, well, “I’m lousy at this.”
• Below your score, write the words “my preference.” Create a list of the things under each heading that you enjoy doing and/or that you are at doing. Step back and look at your notes.

There’s good information here to help you navigate rough roads, and stress. The red flags for your business lie under the two headings in which you scored yourself the lowest in ability. My guess is that under the headings with the two lowest scores, you have few items listed that you enjoy, or are good at.

The important point here is that your business needs to have strength in each of these areas, and someone who keeps their finger on the pulse within each. These headings mirror the Prosperity Partners Pillars, and are very telling in terms of where the gaps are located in your business.

It’s absolutely the norm that every business owner scores himself really low in at least one of the five pillars. The important difference between struggling businesses and successful ones (and between focused methodical bosses and frantic frazzled ones) is in the acknowledgement of gaps, and a plan to manage them.

The sooner you are clear on what you are bringing to the table to manage your business, and where you are getting in the way, the better. So, if you’re feeling the pinch already and the Easter Bunny hasn’t even thought of chocolate yet, the gaps in your business are starting to run you way too early.

Step back, take a serious look at where the gaps are in your business using this simple exercise, and look to different resources to help fill the gaps. The Prosperity Partners program and its resources are here to help teach you to identify and narrow the gaps in management skills.

Jacki Hart may be reached at prosperity@landscapeontario.com.