Managing Stress as a Lawn Care or Landscape Business Owner - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Managing Stress as a Lawn Care or Landscape Business Owner

Being a business owner, you face numerous challenges from finding labor to scheduling delays caused by weather. While no one said running a business would be easy, it shouldn’t be so stressful to the point you are dealing with constant anxiety, fear, isolation or burnout.

Get to the Root of Your Stressors

Sometimes stress doesn’t come from the general running of your business, but from a specific task or problem you keep encountering. If you identify what stressors seem to be the main problem, you can face them head-on versus dealing with them as they occur.

For instance, you could have a long-time employee whose subpar performance causes problems with both your clients and other employees. You deal with any fires they create as they come up, but a much simpler solution would be to let that worker go. Perhaps you’ve kept them so long because you’re convinced replacing them will be far harder.

Another case could be if you have some system or process that you know is inefficient but the thought of finding an alternative method, getting the team trained on it and implementing it sounds like such a hassle. In both of these cases, a reluctance to deal with change has you trapped with guaranteed headaches.

Find Balance

Many will tell you a work/life balance is a myth, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find some harmony between your personal and professional life. In some phases of your life, the business probably will need to come first and other times your family will come first.

Adding structure to your schedule is one way to help create balance in your work. Jim Campanella, an NALP Trailblazer, shuts off his phone at 5 p.m. each night and has family time at dinner with no work distractions. When he’s on vacation, he reads emails and works each day from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., then he shuts off the phone until the next morning. He can’t totally shut off as a business owner, but compartmentalizing his time with a hard shut-off allows for time to relax and recharge.

Learn to Delegate

If you are on the smaller side, you probably still wear a number of hats to ensure your business is running smoothly. In this case, you might not be able to pass off an entire role to another person, but there are certain tasks that other people on your team can take on.

“Leaders run the risk of becoming the bottleneck for growth in an organization if they aren’t allowing their team to step up,” says Doug McDuff, president and co-owner of Landscape America. “And worse, all of the growth needs to funnel through the owner, which will likely lead to burnout and lack of focus on important areas of the business. The A players and superstars in your organization will leave because they won’t be able to reach their goals and aspirations.”

Chances are not every aspect of running the business is your strong suit. Surrounding yourself with good people who are skilled in your weak areas can take some stressful elements off your plate.

If you run a larger organization, delegating could mean outsourcing certain elements of the business. For instance, you could partner with a firm specializing in social media marketing rather than having one summer intern run your social media platforms.

Connect with Peers  

It can be lonely at the top, and if you are struggling with the feeling of isolation, sometimes connecting with a group of your peers can be beneficial. Not only can they help provide solutions and different perspectives to your business challenges, but they can also provide a sense of camaraderie as you realize you’re not the only one facing these issues.

“It’s interesting how often many of us are dealing with some of the same issues,” says Dean DeSantis, owner of DeSantis Landscapes. “One big component of our time together is looking at ourselves as leaders. This includes what we’re doing to take care of ourselves, such as staying healthy, exercising and taking much-needed mental breaks. It’s not always easy to find time for that sort of thing, but we encourage one another to follow through.”

One way to connect with industry peers is to attend various networking events like ELEVATE or use the NAVIGATE program to connect with a mentor.

Remember What’s Going Right

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, it is all too easy to only think about everything that is going wrong. Ruminating can cause even minor irritations to seem far worse than they actually are. Becoming preoccupied with the problem itself can also prevent you from focusing on how to problem-solve.

Interrupt this cycle of negative thinking by deliberately thinking about other times in the past when you have been able to overcome challenges. List out all of the accomplishments your business has achieved. Reaching a 90 percent customer retention rate, being in business for 10 years or more, or even past customer praise for a job well done are all major accomplishments.

Reviewing your list of achievements can help you keep in perspective how far you have come as an owner, and how much more you can do with a positive attitude.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.