Be the root of your business

October 17, 2017 -  By
Photo: ©istock.com/Okea

Photo: ©istock.com/Okea

Focus on these four areas where consistency affects growth.

When Lee Greathouse and his son, Will, took a leap of faith and left a decades-old partnership to form their own landscape contracting business in Nashville, Tenn., they felt as if they were starting from square one. Today, The Greathouse Co. generates $5.3 million in annual revenue, which is a 62 percent increase compared to 2015. Their maintenance base has grown from $0 in 2014 to more than $700,000, adding cash flow stability and improving the firm’s value. Greathouse credits this rapid growth, in large part, to one indispensable factor: “I look at my recent history with my company and what we went through to get where we are today, and I absolutely believe we are where we are now because of consistency,” he says.

If you’ve been in the landscaping business for any length of time, you know the importance of the root system in plant life. Plant growth, like most natural processes, relies on order and consistency. So does the growth of a business. In fact, consistency can mean the difference between a business that withers and dies and one that flourishes in the face of internal and external factors, such as employee conflict and economic difficulties.

While consistency is a word that might initially conjure images of bland uniformity and stagnation, it also means continual attention to and energy directed toward what matters most. Consistency isn’t unwillingness to change; it’s willingness to remain steadfast and dedicated in the face of necessary change. Consistency is vital for growth because it requires time and attention to specific areas. As the leader (the root) of your organization, it’s up to you to ensure and remain accountable to consistency in four areas:

  • the vision of your business;
  • the leadership model you exemplify;
  • the internal culture you encourage and foster; and
  • the systems and processes you implement and use.

1. Vision It’s tempting to move in a new and exciting direction, especially in the age of rapidly evolving technology and trends, but if we don’t pay attention to the path we’re traveling on, we can end up feeling directionless or stalled.

The vision you had in the early days of your business is no less important now than it was then. In fact, as time goes on and your business grows and evolves, adherence and attention to that vision become more important. The elements of that big-picture vision might change over time, but the core of it—the root so vital to the health and vitality of your business —should remain largely unchanged.

“We’ve stuck to our original vision, but we’ve also learned to adapt and embrace the evolution of change at the same time,” Greathouse says.

2. Leadership Business consultant and author Warren Bennis may have said it best when he said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Not to be confused with management, leadership entails empowering employees to use their abilities, skill sets and experiences to strengthen a business. This requires you, as the top-line leader, to demonstrate fairness, impartiality and commitment to the growth and success of all employees. It also means consistently exhibiting the traits you wish to see and foster in employees and remaining true to your word, no matter the cost. When employees see that you’re reliably providing steady leadership and support, trust (the hallmark of any strong business) will increase. Steering employees back to the shared vision is equally important.

As Greathouse says, “Things can get nasty out there, so it’s important to remember we’re all on the same team.”

3. Culture Suffice it to say, your business can’t thrive and prosper based only on the volume—or even the quality—of the goods and services sold. It’s people, far more than products, that make it successful. The internal culture of your business is one critical area where you can’t afford to sacrifice consistency. If you’re the root, then culture is the stem. When culture is weak, the elements so vital to the growth and prosperity of a business never will reach upward and outward. You can send a clear message that a strong culture is nonnegotiable by:

  • consistently empowering employees to make decisions that best benefit the customer;
  • holding them accountable for the outcomes; and
  • exhibiting and encouraging candor, transparency and open communication between and among teams.

One pleasant side effect of this attention to a consistent culture is you’ll attract and recruit the types of employees who bring the most value to your business.

“When we interview people, we tell them we’re looking for people who want to work in a friendly, positive and fun place,” Greathouse says. “Internal culture was part of our original vision, and we consistently remind ourselves and our employees of that culture weekly, if not daily.”

Additionally, Greathouse recommends encouraging and facilitating regular meetings between and among employees to ensure the lines of communication remain open and everyone is on the same page.

4. Systems and processes Two words should be posted somewhere readily visible in your office: scalability and replication. If the systems and processes in your business are unable to grow and evolve along with it, the infrastructure is in danger of collapsing. One way to ensure your business can handle growth is to implement consistent systems and processes that can be replicated easily, no matter how large the operation becomes. Consistent systems and processes also mean employees know what’s expected of them, and new employees joining the business receive equitable onboarding, training and resources.

Greathouse says his company’s systems and processes were “pretty good” starting out, but he knew something was missing. As he and his employees discovered, consistent application of those systems and processes was the missing link that took them from feeling stalled to feeling excited about possibilities.

A business is a living, breathing, dynamic entity that must be consistently nourished if it has any hope of growing and thriving. To ensure appropriate time, attention and resources are spent on the aforementioned vital areas for growth:

  • start at the root with big-picture vision and branch upward and outward through the leadership of your employees;
  • strengthen the internal culture of your business; and
  • attend to the scalability and replication of your systems and processes.

“You have to be persistent and consistent,” Greathouse says. “You can’t let up.”

Eisenhuth is a success coach for The Greathouse Co., a member of the LandOpt Network. Reach him at mike.eisenhuth@landopt.com.

Photo: ©istock.com/Okea

This article is tagged with and posted in 1017, Business Planner 2018

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