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4 steps for planning to succeed

November 8, 2018 -  By
Headshot: Marty Grunder

Headshot: Marty Grunder

In a class I took years ago at Aileron, a learning center for entrepreneurs, the facilitator told us again and again, “All planning is good.” He said it so frequently I wrote it down in my notebook and underlined it, not realizing at the time how important this simple bit of advice would prove. It’s now 20 years later, and while the older I get, the less I relate to absolutes, this is one I keep going back to. Why? Because, simply put, planning improves your chances for success.

And yet many companies in our industry don’t do it enough. Like entrepreneurs the world over, we tend to prize action over deliberation. We often feel like there’s not enough time in the day to do all that we need to. We sacrifice the future for the immediate and then never get ahead.

So do your future a favor by taking some time this month to think about what you want to accomplish next year and formulate a plan. Here are four steps to help you get started.

1. Review the past year. What went well? What didn’t? Which jobs were the most profitable and which ones were losers? Last month I shared with you the efforts we were taking at Grunder Landscaping Co. to retain valued clients, but just as important is figuring out which clients you don’t want to work with again. Conventional wisdom tells us the customer is always right, but that doesn’t mean you’re always right for the customer. Did you have clients in 2018 who didn’t pay their invoices on time, who didn’t treat your crews with respect or who were never satisfied? Is it worth it for you to continue working with them? In my experience, it’s not.

Make note of all these factors—what went well and what didn’t, your profits and losses, good clients and bad—and plan for what your company will do more of, less of or differently next year to grow.

2, Set goals for yourself. What do you need to accomplish in 2019 for you to feel successful? It’s obviously crucial for your company to have a revenue goal you’re shooting for, but it’s also important to think beyond that number. How can you get better as a leader? How can you improve your company culture? How can you develop your people?

Write down your goals and keep them someplace where they’ll always be nearby, whether it’s in a journal, on an app on your phone or on a piece of paper you tack to the wall above your desk. And then tell someone about them—your significant other, a mentor, a friend or even your team if it’s appropriate. Sharing your goals with others helps make you accountable for them and can keep you motivated to keep going when the going gets tough.

3. Break your goals down into steps. Now that you’re officially committed, look at your goals and break down each one into steps. For example, if your goal is to improve as a leader, identify three actions you’ll take in 2019 that will help get you there, whether it’s reading a book on the subject, scheduling one-on-one meetings with your team members or attending an industry educational event like the annual GROW! Conference I help organize every year.

4. Get to work! The best cure for analysis paralysis is action. Don’t wait for the change of the calendar year to get better. Start today, start this hour, start now. This time next year, you’ll be glad you did.

See you next month!

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Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

2 Comments on "4 steps for planning to succeed"

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  1. Chris Senske says:

    Hey Marty, Have you read “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr? I’m wondering if you think OKRs are a good technique for Landscape professionals in their planning process.

    • Marty Grunder Marty Grunder says:

      Hello Chris—hope you are well. I have not read John’s book, but I just ordered it on Amazon and will report back here with the takeaways shortly.