Starting A Lawn And Landscape Business With No Money

Don’t be discouraged! You CAN start a landscape business with no money. Here is how…

This morning, I was driving into the office and, like I usually do, I was listening to a podcast. This particular podcast was an individual interviewing several guys that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, that were doing really big and interesting things, and he was asking them about their businesses. I had the thought that these are guys that are extremely successful now, and they have been successful for quite some time, but the reality is if you go all the way back into their career to when they were in their early 20s, they had started another business and along the way they’ve had multiple businesses to finally arrive at the business that’s making them extremely wealthy.

The question that I get all the time is, “How do I raise money to start my business?” I feel like most people that ask that question, and this is a broad generalization, they sit on the sidelines waiting for the money to show up, when, in fact, they should just take some form of action. The reality about raising money to start a lawn care business or an irrigation business or a tree business is that it’s going to be really difficult to get that money. Unless you have equity in your home and you can refinance it or you have some other assets such as a paid-off car that you can finance and get cash or you have credit cards, you’re really left with asking a relative or a friend or a family member for money, or maybe there’s somebody you know that will invest in your business sort of as an angel. That would be a word that they’d use for it.

Outside of that, you’re generally not going to get a bank loan, and the reason for it is because these industries are higher-risk industries. They’re lower-barrier-of-entry businesses. That means a lot of people get into these businesses, they don’t make it, and they fail. There’s a lot of turnover with the smaller business. Now don’t let that scare you. Don’t think in any way that that means that that’s going to be the situation for you, because you’ll learn and you’ll do things other people aren’t going to do and, therefore, you’ll be successful.

The reality of it is it’s much like starting a restaurant. These businesses have high risk to the bank, so the banks don’t tend to like to loan money. You’re really going to have to get your money in one of the ways I described, friends, family, credit cards, taking out a mortgage on your home, things of that sort, or if you can find somebody that’s successful to loan you the money. They’re going to want a pretty big piece of your business for taking the risk along with you, because it’s a lot of risk. You’re giving away quite a bit of your business basically to just get a faster start.

The reason I told you about the podcast is I’d love to have you think about this a different way. Think about your business career as a journey. It’s so easy to read news articles and listen to podcasts and hear the story of the guy that’s in his 20s, and it’s generally a tech story these days. It’s a guy that’s in his 20s that just sold for $30 million or $40 million or $100 million or whatever that number is. The reality is there was a thousand other guys like him trying to do it that you never heard about. There’s a whole bunch of those guys that didn’t raise money to do it; they did it themselves. They cash floated themselves, they grew slower in the beginning, but later, things started to take off. My point here is that you only hear about the big stories, the very few. What it does to all of us is it makes all of us think that, “Man, I need to make it on my first thing. I need to have this first thing go big and go big fast, and I need to cash out and be done.”

The reality is, and the way I’d encourage you to think about this is, your business career is a journey. If you’re trying to find money for your first business now, this is your first business. If you learn the skills to build a company, you learn how to build a team and you learn how to market, you learn how to build a leadership team to help you run the company, you learn how to recruit, you learn how to sell, you learn how to cash float the company, you learn all the legal side of it, you learn all this stuff that, again, might intimidate you because it’s a lot of stuff to learn, but you don’t have to learn it all at once. It just slowly happens over time, and then one day you wake up and you’re like, “Man, I can’t believe I learned all that.”

If you go through that process, then you’ll know how to do your second business and your third business. There’s a next thing in life. We’re going to be around for a while. This is just your first thing. Who cares if it takes a couple extra years in the broad scheme of a 40-year career or maybe longer, because when you own the thing and other people run it for you, why would you retire? Back to my point, who cares if it takes you a couple years longer to build your very first thing, because along the way you learn a lot of lessons. If you could have 50 grand today to start it and you could shave 12 months of time off of growing the business by giving up some ownership and getting 50 grand or 100 grand versus not getting that money and taking a little bit longer to get there, does it really matter over the course of a 40-year period or a 30-year career, over the course of owning multiple companies? Maybe this is just your first thing.

I’m saying it’s going to be very difficult to go get a bank loan. You could find an investor. It’s going to be somewhat challenging, and if you’re going to get an investor, I wouldn’t just get one for money. I would get an investor that has the experience that can show you how to do it. Otherwise, you’re giving up a lot of equity and getting no advice. You’re just getting money. What happens when you raise money is you basically take money and you apply it to bad thinking, because in the beginning, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know the ideal business model, you don’t know who the ideal client is, you don’t know the marketing that works best.

You don’t know all these things, so what you do is you pour money into bad decisions, whereas if you have to first figure it out, you’re forced to be aggressive, you’re forced to scrap, you’re forced to work really hard. You’re forced to figure stuff out, find creative solutions because there isn’t any money, so you get to a place faster where you figured out what to do and what the right things to do are. My argument is that if you do raise money, it should probably be 4 or 5 years out when you’ve figured everything out, because now you can pour good money on top of good strategy instead of good money on top of bad thinking and bad strategy, and that’s what happens generally when you raise money early in the businesses.

Again, I say all that because I want to give you some encouragement that there’s an alternative way of thinking, that raising money probably isn’t even the best strategy anyway. If you can’t get it, don’t be completely beat down and say, “Well, I can’t do it. I’ll have to wait till some day I have money or some day I can raise money.” No, just go out and start doing this thing on the side now. Just get your first mower, get your first truck. Stock it with your initial irrigation parts. Get your first whatever, your pool equipment or whatever it is and just start doing some stuff on the side. Go make that first $1000. Then get that next $5000 in recurring business.

Yep, you didn’t have money, so it took a little longer to get there, but you got there. That’s the path to follow. Don’t be beat down if you can’t raise money, because it is very difficult to do in these types of businesses. Start doing something, and then think about what I was talking about. You’re playing the long game. This is not a figure-it-all-out, cash-out, 5-year kind of thing. This is build the experience so I can build the next thing that’s even bigger and then the next thing that’s even bigger. That’s how you create wealth and that’s how you create confidence, because you have the knowledge to go do whatever it is you want to do later in life and whatever business it is you want to build later in life. Don’t give up if you can’t raise the money. Just find an alternative way to get there.

Top Reason Residential Lawn Maintenance Contracts Are Bad Business

Jonathan has been upfront about how he feels about residential lawn maintenance contracts. Here is the number one reason he feels they impede your success.

I’ve recorded a number of videos on why I think contracts for residential maintenance are completely unnecessary, and I’m against them. I’m going to record one more video and I’m going to give you one reason. I’m going to condense it down. If you want a bunch of reasons, Google contracts and lawn care, you’ll find some of my YouTube videos and potentially a blog post, or two.

I’m going to give you the one deciding factor. If there were no other reason, and there was only this one reason, this is why I do not believe in, and would not institute residential contracts in my business. You may or may not agree. Many don’t, but here’s the reason. Speed. Your prospect is not sitting around saying, “Man, I wish that my lawn care provider, my pest control provider, my whatever provider would make me sign a contract.”

Remember, I’m focused on residential maintenance. They’re not sitting around saying that. They’re not saying, “You know, I really would like to sign a contract for four thousand dollars, and lock me up for the rest of the year, and if my husband loses his job, or we want to move, or something goes wrong, I don’t like the provider, I would really like to be in a contract when that happens.”

Nobody wants that. That is not the way they want to work with you, and so why not take that completely out of the equation, because when you add it you create resistance, and you slow everything down. Because now you have to measure everything. You have to figure out in advance for the whole year what they might need, and you have to sell all that to them.

Then they have to have a family discussion about whether or not you’re the best provider for four thousand dollars versus another, and if they should sign the contract, is this a good idea? Should we really include that service that they quoted, or take it out? Maybe just do it next year? It complicates everything, slows everything down, and you have opened the door for your competitor, who is potentially, more savvy.

Maybe unfair, but he is thinking a little bit differently, and he’s focused on speed. He has an inordinate opportunity to win the business over you. For example, let’s just break it down. Company A, Company B.

Company A says, “You know what? We don’t require contracts. We might even know how to price over the phone for certain services. You call us, we answer the phone every time you call, Mr. Prospect. Every time the phone rings we answer the phone, and then we find out what you need. We give you a price over the phone. We make you a client right there. We don’t require a contract, nothing, done, solved.”

That prospect is off the market. They’re not price shopping. The rest of the companies that they already called, they called back with prices, probably won’t get return phone calls. They have solved their problem. Mental to-do list item “Get lawn care company” checked off. Out of their mind, done, finished, they’re on to everything else going on in their world, soccer practice, and church, and work, and everything else.

They’re done with that. They’re sold. They’re your client. Company B talks to the same client, hopefully answers the phone, and they have to come out and walk the property, and give an estimate. They need to have a conversation about everything you might want to buy, and then they find a few things at the property that they want to go ahead and propose now that you might need this year so they can get it in the contract.

Then they have to write the contract, and they have to send you the contract. There might be a little back and forth. You know the game. Okay, who wins in that deal? Me, or Company A, who solves all your problems, and solves your to-do list, gets that thing off your to-do list in a twenty minute phone call, fifteen minute phone call, done, finished. Or Company B, that turns this thing into a five-day ordeal? Who wins?

Company A wins almost every time. There might be one exception. If Company A sucks, their quality sucks, their customer service sucks, and Company B is great, okay, now Company B is definitely still in the running, but if we have two similar companies in terms of quality and service, Company A generally wins that game. Now imagine that Company A and B each spend a hundred grand a year on marketing, and for a hundred grand you need a good return on investment.

You need a hundred grand to yield you a lot of new clients that spend a lot of money. Who wins that game? Company A wins that game because they can convert at a much higher percentage, a lot more clients for their marketing spent than Company B. Their company keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Company B slowly gets bigger. They have more and more money to spend on better service, better people, better equipment, more marketing, on and on and on, and it just sort of amplifies.

It compounds, and that company just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger while Company B says, “I don’t understand why this market’s so hard. I don’t understand why I can’t get big. Company A must just be getting lucky.” No, Company A made a really savvy decision to optimize their business around speed and what the client wants, and they don’t require contracts.

Company B didn’t do that, and therefore they grow slower, and they don’t understand why they’re growing slower. Now, are there exceptions? Of course. Are there companies that require residential maintenance contracts that have multi, multi, multi-million dollar companies that make lots of money and do fantastic? Of course, but they are generally really savvy at sales. They’re also really on top of things.

They probably do a fantastic job of renewing. They spend a lot more money to do it, and they have success with it. Most companies won’t spend the money that those guys will spend. Most companies won’t do the follow through that the guys that do maintenance contracts and require them and still win the game. They probably don’t have the same follow through that that company has.

Can you be successful? Absolutely. Of course. I’m just simply saying if you want to find the optimal business model, my argument is it’s the one based on speed. I believe that that business model wins whether you’re in Canada, New York, Texas, Florida, I don’t care where you are, because you’re giving the client a solution that they want, and speed wins every day.

Another example of speed: Company A answers the phone, Company B doesn’t answer the phone. Who wins the business? We all know the company that answers the phone wins because they’re getting to the client, the prospect quicker. Exact same thing with selling the business.

The job is to take that prospect off the market as fast as you can so they can’t price quote you, so they can’t compare you, before they get too busy and forget about it, get too busy and say, “You know what? I’ll deal with it next month.” Your job is to make that happen fast. It’s all about speed. Contracts do nothing to increase speed. They slow everything down. That’s the one reason.

How Do You Schedule Rain Delays For Mowing Crews?

Rain delays for mowing crews can be a challenge for any lawn care company. Here are a couple of ways to stay on top of the game and keep the revenue coming in.

If you’re frustrated with all the rain and rain delays… If you can’t figure out how to route and schedule your mowing crews because of all the rain, you’re in the same boat with the rest of us. Everyone deals with the exact same problem. There’s a lot of different ways you can handle it. I’ll tell you what we do and then I’ll tell you what some other companies do.

We run five days a week. Some companies will run four tens, meaning they work four days a week for ten hours, and they try to stay out of overtime and they use Friday as a catch up day. For us, we have to work in overtime. We pay overtime. There’s no way around it because we can’t find enough people fast enough to grow the company the way we want to grow the company, so we have to absorb the overtime. We work five days a week. Saturday’s a catch up day. Sunday’s a catch up day. For our lawn mowing crews and for our bed and bush crews, they’re the two sides of the company that predominantly have to work the Saturday/Sunday. It’s not that spray techs don’t work Saturday, but they would never really have to work on a Sunday. Whereas, if it rains for three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then that means Thursday and Friday we’re mowing until dark. Saturday we’re mowing late into the day. Sunday we’re going to mow until we’re finished. We have to get the work done. It’s especially true for us.

Some companies are commercial. They’re under a contract and if they get so much rain, then they’ll skip a week of maintenance or they’ll really change up their schedules. They’re going to get the same revenue regardless. For us, we’ve done the math and it’s more profitable for us to be pay-as-you-go and not put our clients under contract. That’s a whole different video on why, but there’s a lot of reasons why we are one hundred percent positive it’s the more profitable route. For that reason, if it were to rain Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and we don’t mow this week, then we lose that weeks work of mowing, and that’s a big deal. We have to do whatever we have to do to make up the revenue. Also, to keep the properties nice. Then, if we don’t take care of the properties, you know, you’ll pay the price in the second week when it’s really growing fast. Especially during the spring.

There’s no magic. The only solution is to do the work. The only days remaining in the week are Saturday and Sunday in our world, so we have to do the work. When we hire somebody they know the deal. That’s how it works. There’s just nothing you can do about it. When it rains, yeah you get a temporary break the day of the rain, but we’ve all got to suck it up and do the work and get it done. That’s how we all get paid. That’s what we do. Again, there’s no magic. Some companies are trying to avoid the idea of working on weekends or they would never work a Sunday, and in a perfect world that would be the case, but we’re outdoor service companies and we don’t have a choice.

Now, if your fertilization and weed control or pest control irrigation … outside of an irrigation emergency … you’re not going to lose the revenue by delaying the job. If you have a whole round … let’s say you have several thousand applications that need to happen within a round, like round three, yeah you might not finish on the day that you thought you’d finish all of those applications. For example, you thought you’d have all the applications for round two done in beginning of March. Maybe it takes you a few extra days into March than you’d expected because of so much weather pushing back some of the applications, but you can still capture all that revenue. That’s a little less of a concern. Just to be clear, for us, we’re not going to work on Sundays for that type of work. It’s not necessary. It is necessary for the revenue that if you don’t perform the work you’ll never recapture that revenue. Meaning that if you miss a mowing this week, you can’t make it up. It’s impossible. That’s how we handle it. No magic.

Now, how do some other companies do it? Some work the four tens, meaning they’ll work Monday through Thursday and that gives them a Friday and possibly a Saturday to fall over to. Some will bring their crews in and do maintenance, training. Some in light rain will still do some mowing. We do too. You can do some light mowing in rain, as you know. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. From our standpoint, it’s a big marketing watch-out that if you’re mowing when it’s too wet there’s a perception problem. If the work doesn’t look as good, then we’re not viewed as the level of quality that we want to be viewed. We’re not viewed in the like that we want to be seen. I think it’s a real watch-out to mow in the rain or when it’s too wet. It can just lead to too many problems. However, bed and bush crews can still do some work. You can hand weed. You can do maintenance. You can do training. Now, I’d just say watch out because you can quickly get yourself into some overtime by doing these things.

Where we’re at in business at this point, we have maintenance crews. We have people to do everything, so when our mowing crews can’t mow there’s really nothing to let them do because everything’s taken care of by other people. In that case, what we do is we don’t have them come in. If the weather clears or the rain moves out, we might call them in at eleven in the morning and do what we can for the day knowing we won’t finish everything. Then, start to catch up on the following day. That’s how we handle it. I hope that gives you a few ideas, but know there’s no magic. You just got to do the work. Your team has to be educated when you hire them to know, “Here’s how we deal with it. Deal with weather delays. Here’s what we do and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Tip For Building A Great Team Of Employees

If you want to create a top-notch culture, you have to recruit a great team of employees.

I’ve got an idea for you that will be really impactful in regards to how much you love your company long term. If you’re proud of what you’ve built, so 10 years from now you absolutely want a place where you love the team, you love coming to work every day, it’s exciting, it’s an idea machine, you guys are leading and moving forward. That’s what everyone wants to create. A lot of that, the way you get there is by creating a top-notch culture. It’s a work in progress. Nobody has all the answers.

The reason I wanted to record this is I feel that for many of us running field-service businesses, lawn care, landscape, tree care, pest control businesses, where the majority of our team is out in the field, many of us hear of the idea of culture and we think, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Maybe we don’t think about it at all or we think, “It applies but not quite the same way it does at a company where I have 5, 20, 100 people in an office environment.” The reality is it applies exactly the same way. They just happen to be outside your office. They don’t come into an office every day.

If you’re not quite familiar with what culture might mean you might think of it this way. You could think of it as words. What describes your company? Is your company one where there’s a serious level of trust, where your team trusts you to take care of them, your team trusts you to build a great company, to take great care of the client, to always be able to listen to their input and take it?

As another example, are you a learning environment, one where you set the tone and you’re constantly learning and growing and you’re training and teaching? The team’s doing the same. They’re becoming better and better at what they do. Are you a hard-core sales environment, high-commissioned, predominately commissioned sales environment, hard-charging environment, or are you more of a consultive selling-type environment? Is it a fun place, an intense place, a very serious environment? When it comes to customer service, are you sort of, “Mr. Client, this is how it is,” or is it more an empathetic approach, there’s more empathy involved?

Culture is your beliefs, it’s your behaviors, it’s how you communicate, it’s how you treat your people, it’s how you deal with and treat your team and your employees, or your team being your employees, and your clients. There’s more to it than that. If you’re not familiar, it would be worth looking it up and reading about it a bit. My point here is that you don’t want to underestimate this, because what you do and how you treat your people will determine what kind of company you end up with and what kind of people you attract.

As I said, I think one of the most important things to keep in mind is, are you creating something that 10 years from now you’re going to be super proud of and you’re going to want to come to the office and work there? In the very beginning it starts with you. You’re the leader. You sort of set the culture. If you’re an angry, unhappy person, if you yell and scream, or if you’re nice and empathetic and you help people, and you care about your team, and you invest in your team and you try to help them, and you set a good example on the phone when dealing with clients, well, you’re going to probably attract people similar to you.

People are going to model you because that’s what they’re going to believe the expected behavior is, and that’s going to be the initial tone or culture of your company. Later, as you bring managers into the company, and they’re in the leadership position, what they do is going to enhance your culture, or it’s going to tear down your culture, or transform your culture. If you’re bringing people that don’t really fit with your vision and your values you’re going to slowly erode the culture. One day you’ll wake up and have a business that you don’t love and you really would like to sell because it’s not a place you want to be.

Everybody’s culture is different, there’s no one way, but if you don’t have a great, strong culture and you’re bringing people into that culture that fit within the company, fit within that culture, and getting the people out of the company that don’t fit, well then you’re going to have problems. It’s going to be difficult to build a highly productive company. It’s going to be more difficult to recruit.

These are really important things to think about. It’s not a new concept. I just want to make the important point that even though half your team, or more 75% of your team, is outside the office they, too, are part of the company just like everyone else, and there is still a culture. How you deal with the client in the field, how they grow within the company, how you take care of them, it all applies exactly the same way. Don’t underestimate that if you have in the past.

If you’re small you’ll be happy that you thought about this when you were young in business and that it became part of your company and you worked on it, because as you get bigger, if you’re not there yet, you’ll quickly realize your number one most important activity is recruiting and building the team, and finding the right people and making sure only the right people get on the team and the wrong people get off the team, and then creating a culture that is a place where people want to work and you can find more of them, and it’s easy to attract people.

That is your top, top responsibility if you buy into the idea that your goal is to build a company where everybody else eventually is doing the majority of the work. It doesn’t mean you don’t do anything, it just means that you’re no longer the bottleneck. You’re no longer the main person. You want to build a company that’s capable of achieving that. People are the key to that. Having a great place to work is the key to getting the right people and keeping them.

Build Your Dream Business

Do you want to know how to build your dream business? Jonathan gives you the number one thing you need to do here…

I’ve got a thought for you to think over as you’re working through the week. I heard a quote a while back that I noted, I thought it was a great one. It’s basically, “My definition of success-” This is from a successful person. “My definition of success is when you can’t distinguish the line between work and your personal life.”

I realize that that sounds really optimistic. Maybe in what you’re doing right now and what you’re struggling with, what you’re struggling with or in the process of building your company you’re thinking, “How could that ever possibly be the case?”

What I’d like to suggest that you might consider as your long term goal and as something that many, many, many, many, many people ahead of you have created in their lives and their world is that you can reach a point where in your business you’ve hired teams around you that do heavy lifting in the areas that you’re not uniquely skilled or in the areas that you don’t find energy or get energy from doing that task. For example, if you don’t love accounting you’ve built a team around you to handle accounting. If you don’t like managing the sales team, you build a sales leader around you. If you’re not great at marketing you have a marketing team. I realize that if you’re small and just getting started this sounds near impossible or is hard to imagine but it is reality for many.

The best entrepreneurs and the best business builders, what they’re doing over the course of years and years and years is they’re figuring out, “What am I best at? What do I love doing? What do I get energy from? What would I do even if I had $50 million dollars in the bank because after all, I would get bored eventually traveling the world. What would I do?”

They figure out that thing that they are gifted at, that they enjoy doing and they build teams around them to take care of everything else. Their sole job becomes one of doing what they’re best at. When you’re doing what you’re best at, you enjoy it and you study it. You learn it and then you get energy from it. The idea of retiring or selling your thing or cashing out and walking away slowly fades away because now you’ve got money and you get to do exactly what you want to do.

Ponder that thought, that’s the ultimate goal in my opinion and it’s 100% achievable.

Have You Ever Felt Business Owners Guilt?

Are you conflicted with business owners guilt? You aren’t the only one!

How’s it going? I’ve got a question for you. I am legitimately interested in what your answer is and what your opinion is. Before I ask you the question, I’ve got to give you two statements of fact. These are basically things that I believe that frame my outlook. One, I believe you are the leader of your company. I believe you set the example. I believe you set the tone. I believe you are charged with creating the culture of your business. Two, I believe that most people build a business that is nothing more than a business, a high paying in some cases, job. When in fact what you really should be doing is building an investment. When you think about whatever it is you’re building as an investment and not as a business, you act differently. You think differently. You do things differently. You invest differently.

An investment is one where you’re building a company that could run without you. You could be gone for a year, the thing keeps growing, it keeps spitting off cash and it pays you a distribution. You are not the bottleneck of that business. Knowing both of those things, I generally work everyday. I generally work most Saturdays unless we’re traveling or on vacation or I might run out to catch a soccer game or something of that sort. Most Saturdays I’m working if I’m in town. This past Saturday it was fantastic outside, it was 70 degrees, it felt great. I just didn’t feel like driving to the office, there might have been three or four people at the office. I didn’t drive to the office. I sat outside and worked on my laptop, but I felt quite a bit of guilt for doing that because I have a team that’s not required to come to the office.

Yet a number of people come to the office, not every Saturday, but many Saturdays. If I don’t show up, what are they thinking? Are they thinking I’m just not working this Saturday, I’m just taking it off while they’re busting their ass working. Likewise, I don’t generally come to the office until 10:00 in the morning. That’s a factor. There’s several reasons for that. One, sometimes I work late at night, so I sleep in. Sometimes I get up early and work and get work done before I get to the office and anybody bothers me. Other days I get up and I workout for an extended period of time and I don’t really do much work before I get to the office. What’s the perception of the team?

Do they know I’m working? Do they realize I’m working really hard or do they feel that I’m just leaving everything to them, because I feel that setting an example is critically important. At the same time building an investment is one where the team does the work. My question to you is, how important is it to come in on Saturday when others are at the office? Which I normally do, but I felt great guilt for not doing it. How important is it that I arrive at 8:00 in the morning versus 10:00 in the morning? Even though I’m working. Even though I work at night while everybody else was sleeping or doing something else. The team doesn’t know that. I’m not going to walk around telling them what I’m doing all the time.

Is it important to show up and be there even if it’s not the most optimal schedule just so you can set a good tone? I tend to think it is. I’ve been conflicted by a few of these items. Historically I’ve always been at the office. As I have more of a team around me I don’t have to show up in the morning. There’s other people that can fight fires and deal with stuff. I can work on the bigger activities. Which I really believe and you have to position yourself. You’ve got to get yourself where you have time to think. You have time to work on big stuff. These are things I don’t normally talk about in Lawn Care Millionaire.

I don’t normally talk about the idea of building an investment versus a business. These are things I deal with heavily in Service Autopilot Academy, but this is a much bigger audience and I’m super curious. How important is it that you come to the office every Saturday? How important is it that you come to the office before everybody else in the morning? You just suck it up and you do that even though it’s not the most optimal thing to do, in that it doesn’t give you undivided time where nobody can ask you a question. Where you can think through things. What do you think? Should owners feel guilt about living a different schedule than what they ask of everyone else in their organization? What do you think?

Good Business Strategy Vs A Good Story

Don’t be caught unprepared. Make sure your dreams of the future are backed up by good business strategy.

My question to you is, are you telling yourself a good story, or are you executing a strategy? I think that many of us, and I totally fall into this camp, but many of us tell ourselves a great story. Next year, we’re going to grow by this much. Next year, I’m going to do this. Next year, things are going to be better, or, I’m going to build this company and one day I’m going to sell it and I’m going to be rich, and that’s going to be my retirement.”

Let’s use that as an example. Telling yourself a good story is, I’m going to build up my landscape company and eventually I’m going to sell my landscape company for a great amount of money. In fact, I think I’ll be doing $3 million in landscape business by then, so I’ll probably sell my company for about $3 million, and then we’re going to make 10% interest on our money. I’ll make about $300,000 a year. We’re going to live an awesome lifestyle. Things are going to be golden.

Strategy says that, no, not really. Your landscape company is probably going to be worth about 10 to 15% of gross sales plus assets, and you’re not going to make 10% on your money after you sell your company because well, you can’t make 10% on your money unless you’re in more aggressive assets, investments, and you’re probably not going to want to be in more aggressive assets or investments like that later in life. You’re probably not going to do that unless you’ve really been spending some period of time in your life learning investing, and you probably will need a diversified portfolio across real estate and equities and stocks and bonds and a few other things. A great story is, you’ll retire with $3 million and make $300,000 a year. Reality is that you’ll retire with $550,000 and you’ll make 3% interest on your money, and when you try to get a more aggressive return on your money, you’ll be at high risk of losing some of your money.

I’m not saying you can’t get higher risk and I’m not saying you can’t sell your company for more money, and that’s where strategy comes in. Strategy is an awareness of what reality is. It’s looking at, strategically, if your goal is to exit with $3 million in the future, could be 10, 20 years from now, then are you building the kind of company that can yield $3 million in revenue or $3 million at the time of sale? You shouldn’t be in landscape. You should be in fertilization and weed control, pest control. You should be in something that can actually yield a much, much, much higher value that’s desirable by other companies that want to buy it.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re going to be selling in 10 to 15 years, you’ve got to take a guess at what might the market want 10 to 15 years from now. You’ve got to be willing to change your business model as the years go on to make sure that your company is doing what other companies want, what they want to acquire. Then if you want to earn 10% interest out into the future, you need to be dabbling right now in some different things and going through the process. You need to be learning a little bit about real estate. You need to be learning a little bit about investing. You need to be figuring out a lot of different things because you don’t want to play with your $3 million to figure it out later. You want to play with a little pile of money now and learn the lessons you need to learn and figure out what you like and don’t like now.

That’s strategy. Strategy is figuring out your vision in the future, figuring out what your goals are, and then looking critically at how you get there, and what reality is, and making sure you’re telling yourself an accurate story, not just one that makes you feel good and makes you comfortable. I think a lot of us, business owners and entrepreneurs that are optimistic and are dreamers and can make things happen, and we’re salespeople, we are good at telling ourselves stories. We’re good at saying, “This is how I think it’ll be. I feel like this could be the case.” But we don’t dig in and look to see if that’s reality. When you dig in and look and you make a plan and you back into it, that’s strategy. And if you want to achieve exactly what you want, you have to be playing your game strategically.

It can’t be based on emotion. It can’t be based on feelings. It can’t be based on, “I hope this is how the world is going to be someday when I get there,” or “This is how things should be.” It’s got to be based on strategy. You’ll be much, much, much happier with the outcome if you look at everything strategically.

Don’t Let Economic Pessimism Keep You From A Successful Future

Don’t be held back by economic pessimism. Jonathan explains why he thinks your outlook can cost you your future.

Something I’ve been thinking about a bit is, if you want to be really successful, I think you want to be an optimist. Maybe this seems like a little bit of a weird topic, but I think it’s worth hearing. Historically, I don’t think I’ve been an optimist, but recently, or something I’ve noticed over the last year or so, I feel like multiple people have sort of thrown back at me when I’m debating something with them that I’m an optimist. They’re sort of discounting what I am saying because they’re saying, “Well, you’re optimistic,” whether I’m debating something about politics or business or finance or where the world’s going or technology or whatever.

Maybe they’re talking really bad about somebody or some group or some organization and I’m looking at it from a different angle. And so they’ll throw back at me, “Well, you take that position because you’re an optimist,” as in they’re saying, “You’re wrong. You’re probably not right. You’re just ignoring the facts because you’re optimistic.”

However, I have a comment now to one or more people that, if you have not historically been an optimist, you’ve been on the wrong side of history for the last hundred years. Like, I would rather be an optimist because, if you look at the charts on financials, you look at the charts on real estate, you look at the charts on business, you look at the charts on technology improvement, you look at the charts just on societal things such as how many people are starving in the world, how many people have diseases, how many people are illiterate, it is massively, massively, massively getting better like everyday, and it’s speeding up.

So, if you are a pessimist, and you’re betting against everything and you’re betting against the world, then you’re going to make bad investments or no investment or you’ll be afraid to grow your company. Yes, crappy stuff’s going to happen. Yes, we’re going to have another economic downturn. Yes, some really crummy things will happen, and maybe they’ll last for a 10 year period, but, if you are not an optimist, I believe without question you will fall on the wrong side of history and you will not grow a very successful company.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re not prudent or conservative, but, I look back at my younger years of life, I think I was maybe a little optimistic, but I was a worrier. I worried about stuff. I was sort of fearful on a lot of different things. The only way I’ve gotten out from under that kind of thinking, and I still see some of it in my life with just making investments or being a little too conservative. Yeah, it served me well, and it gives me peace of mind knowing what my comfort level is in terms of risk, and so not overdoing it lets me live in a pretty comfortable, happy life, but it’s also held me back. It’s also cost me a lot of money.

And so I feel like I’ve become more optimistic over life, and I’m becoming more optimistic even in light of all the crummy things that are going on in the world of business and politics and everything else because of a couple things: because I’m constantly reading, because I’m studying smart people, because I’m involved with other smart people that are doing really big things, because I read historical things, because I’m paying attention to what’s happening, because I look at financials, I look at historical charts on businesses, and I can go down the line.

Doing all of that is making me optimistic and more positive. And, I believe that there is a link to the more confident, optimistic and the reduction of worry in my life and getting to a place where it’s like, “You know what? If crap falls apart, I know how to fix it. I’ll deal with it again. The ride’s been sort of fun. Stressful, but fun. I can do it all again.” As I’ve arrived at that, I believe I’ve become more successful, and I believe that I am picking up speed.

The reason I share this with you is, if you find that you’re constantly beat down, frustrated, you’re listening to the politics, you’re listening to financial news, I just don’t know how you build a successful company or one of size. How do you ever get the confidence to go higher when you’re bombarded with news that the world’s getting worse, it’s all going to end, it’s all falling apart, there’s going to be a catastrophe, Yellowstone’s going to blow up, an asteroid’s going to hit, I mean you hear all this insanity that’s just stupid. And, if something horrible happens and we’re all wiped out, well, we didn’t even know we were wiped out. It just happened.

Like what are you going to do about it? There’s nothing you can do about it. If the economy crashes, what are you going to do about it? You can’t really fix it, so the best thing you can possibly do is really know how to be the guy that survives in the downturn and builds the next thing and takes care of his family. When you get to that place, you’re optimistic because you’re confident.

Hopefully, this is of a little bit of value, but it’s something I’m sort of aware of that I’ve become better at, and I think I’ve become happier in the process and more successful in the process. And, I’m just sort of fed up with people throwing it back and saying, “Well, you’re optimistic,” to basically make the argument that my point isn’t valid because I see the good in people or the good in the future or the good in the improvements of technology.

I think, if you want to be successful, don’t fall down on the wrong side of history. Be optimistic. Look for the opportunity. Look for the good. Think tomorrow’s going to be a bigger and better tomorrow, and you’ll be one of the winners. I really believe that. That’s the path I have chosen to follow.

Do You Constantly Get Distracted When Trying To Focus?

If you find that you constantly get distracted, try out this program recommendation!

I’ve got a little productivity tip for you. I hope it’s of value. It’s been a big value to me. I am fairly easily distractible. I always have another idea, a new idea, and I want to work on the next thing. Another way that I noticed some of my bad habits manifest is I’ll be in the middle of working on something that really needs a lot of thought. I’m thinking through a project, I’m working on it, I’m writing something, and the next thing I know I’m looking at a website. I’m on Forbes.com or I’ve gone to Gmail and I’m looking at email. I didn’t even realize I did that.

It’s almost as though when I’m in the middle of working on something really hard, my brain’s looking for an easier solution and it keeps going back to another idea or going to email or something like that. In the morning, I’ve noticed a bad habit. I’ll wake up and I should get right out of bed. I should get to it or go work out, but instead for 5 minutes or so, or maybe 10, I’ll lay there waking up and I’ll reach over and grab my phone and I’ll be reading the news or I’ll check my email. Not the best way to start the day.

This program right here, Freedom, it works on a PC and a Mac. It works on your IOS device. You install it and so it’s real simple. This is just the screen you’re looking at that. Through your web browser you can set it up and you can add all these little block lists right here. I’m not tempted by that many things, so I really only block 6 things. I block Forbes, and a couple financial sites, and a couple news sites, and my Gmail account. I tend to find there’s really 6 things that distract me, but I will go to them all the time without realizing it.

I set up a block list. You can have as many as you want. Then during the day at work, all I do is I just go up here to the top on my Mac where it has this little butterfly looking thing. I’ll start another session. For example, I just roll my mouse over start session. I usually do about 3 hours at a time. I’m just going to go start session. I’ll hit 1 hour and then it’s started. For the next hour, if I try to go anywhere that’s of temptation, I won’t be able to get there. It’s really that simple and it works on my iPhone as well. My iPhone is now blocked as well. You don’t have to set it up on every device, but it’s great. Again, I usually work at about 3 hour stretches. It really trains behavior and it keeps me from accidentally checking email and accidentally getting distracted by something else.

See if it works for you. If you find yourself constantly battling distraction, give this program a try.

If Your Company Has You Burned Out, This Is The First Step

Here is what you need to do if running your company has you burned out and ready to walk away…

Are you feeling burned out? Are you tired? Worn out? Stressed? Wouldn’t mind walking away from it all and doing something completely different?

The reason you’re burned out is because you’ve been doing the same thing for way too long, or you’re working on things that you shouldn’t be working on. What I mean by that is, way too many guys and gals that are building companies, get stuck doing the same thing over and over and over again, and they don’t bring in anybody behind them to take stuff off their plate.

They get stuck doing the same thing, and then they grind down. They wear out. They get bored. They get worn out because, after you do something for long enough, and you keep telling yourself year after year the story that, “This year will be better. This year we’ll grow. This year we’ll have more money. This year we’ll get out of debt. This year we’ll get more clients. This year … whatever.” It doesn’t happen, and you have to go execute the exact same set of daily activities that you’ve been doing for the last five years. You wear down and you burn out. Ultimately, you’ll give away your company for virtually nothing.

The only solution is to hire people to start filling in and taking things off your plate. In the last couple videos I’ve talked about this. This has sort of been a theme. You’ve got to get stuff off your plate, and you can start with the activities that are not that expensive to hire out. Just get some stuff off your plate. You’ll find a little bit of freedom to have a little bit more success to find a little bit of peace of mind. It will give you confidence and courage to hire more people. Or, the individual maybe that you did hire, let’s say they were only part-time, to give them full-time work.

The only solution is to grow. I’ve seen multiple people post on YouTube, saying, “I don’t want a big business. Employees suck. It’s not a good industry. You can’t grow it.” I can go down the list. There will be people that make negative comments about some of the stuff I say, having to do with growing or getting bigger. But, I’m telling you if you don’t do it you will be miserable in ten years. You will be working harder than a lot of people that just went and got a job. You might be making a little bit more money, but I guarantee you won’t be happy in life.

The way to not burn out, the way to be happier, the way to feel more successful, the way to have more confidence, the way to be proud of what you’ve built and accomplished is to build something a little bit bigger. You don’t have to go to five million. You don’t have to go to three million. You don’t have to go to ten million, but it needs to be a little bigger. It absolutely needs to be you not doing all the work in the field.

If you decide that, “Hey, I want to work in the field, somewhat, I don’t want that big business.” Fine. But, it can’t be one crew. It’s really got to be multiple crews where you’re sort of out there in the fields, overseeing things. But, you cannot be the person doing the work. If you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, and even 40’s and you’re totally cool with doing the work and you are loving it…great! But, there will come a day that you don’t love that anymore. You’re kind of grinding down, wearing down, you’re tired, and if you have waited that long to figure out how to build a bigger business, you’ve only got a couple options.

You continue to grind down and, ultimately, have no retirement, or you go get a job somewhere, or you reinvent yourself at 40, and that’s not very exciting. The way I ended up in the lawn care business was I bought my business, it was like $50,000 worth of revenue, from a guy that was about 60-years-old that had been mowing lawns his entire life. He was done. He really had nothing, but he could not mow any further. He was sick. He was a smoker, and it was starting to get to him, and he just physically could no longer do it.

This was a guy that never got out of the field, and now, he had nothing. He sold his business for $7,000 to me, including his truck and his mower and his trailer. He walked away from it all with nothing after 30 years of being in the business. That’s mind boggling. Avoid the burnout. If you’re feeling it, know that there is a solution. That solution is to start getting some stuff off your plate and moving up the ranks in your business to doing new and different tasks … but not being the guy doing the work in the field.