Profit Power: What got you here won’t get you there

September 28, 2015 -  By

Are you ready to transition your landscape business to the next generation? If so, heed the following advice.

Transitioning your role—from company leader to parent of the leader—requires a significant amount of self awareness (more than you’ve ever had in the past) to make sure you don’t torpedo the transition process and set up your company to fail. Subconsciously, founding leaders may sabotage the succession plan so they can ride in on their white horse and save the day. It’s not conscious, but it happens all too frequently.

You need to be able to take on a new role.

First generation leaders generally take the business as far as they can. They had a great idea and endless passion and built a great business. And it worked well, until it didn’t. The skills that help founding entrepreneurs create their initial successes ironically may hamper them from taking their companies to the next level. Creating and nurturing are a different skill set than organizing and growing (and working with technology).

This conundrum is compounded by the fact that first generation family members have many years of experience, bumps and bruises. They have accumulated unparalleled industry knowledge. They feel like they know it all because they’ve done it all! But founders can be too smart. When this knowledge comes out of their mouth (or email) at every turn, it becomes a lurking, nagging obstacle to the second generation and their leadership team.

Succession planning is made worse if all the financial eggs are in this one basket (the company). The business is both a lifeboat and the founder’s baby. No matter the transition method (selling it or handing it down) the risk is this: The founder micromanages the second generation and thereby imperils the transition and the family goodwill.

No matter the situation you are in, it helps to get professional counsel during the transition process to steer clear of land mines.

For example, if the transition goes too slow due to obstruction, old habits will get in the way. The founders may be holding back the company and stopping it from reaching its full (evolving) potential. It has profound negative consequences on their baby.

It’s time to let the next generation steer the reins, make the tough calls and do things differently.

But are you, the founding owner, ready to step back and let the next generation leaders do things differently? Are you ready to take direction from them? And/or do you need to step out of the business completely? The founder, like Moses, may not be allowed to remain front and center to experience the company’s next phase.

Of course this presumes the second generation is smart, capable, emotionally ready and has enough drive to do the job—not the old school type of entrepreneurial drive but its own unique brand of drive.

Having these traits is not enough to predict success if the first generation isn’t willing to change its style and let the company be run a new way.

When is the right time to transition the business? If you miss the signals in this fast-changing world, your business will falter. What got you here won’t get you there.

Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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