If you are wondering what to do in today’s economy to protect your earnings, savings and family’s future, you are not alone. With the recent economic failure of investment banking firms, mortgage companies and airlines, you can’t help but wonder: What’s next? What should you do in your company right now to insure future success?


Let me explain. Small business owners account for almost one-half of this nation’s millionaires. This good news is yours to keep! Savor this thought as you accomplish your work today! You should feel energized to know you have something in common with almost one-half of the millionaires in the USA. You own your small business!


There are three traits that millionaire business owners share, regardless of the distractions of economic uncertainty. You will profit during tough times by following the three success traits of super successful small business owners.


Small business owners are often considered “risk takers”. They have an inner urge to strike out on their own, take charge and drive hard for success. The small business owner is THE driving force behind the economic success of the USA, the politicians remind us of this daily.


Sadly, when times get tough and the economy starts to tighten up, you may begin to think your ability to grow your income is impossible. The negative stories by the media begins to weigh heavy in your mind. You are reminded day and night of a slumping real estate market. Building has slowed and a few people decide to “hold off” on the proposals you have delivered. So, you decide the economy is working against you too. This is simply not the case!


Three Traits


There are three traits that almost all the successful business owners share. They are:

  1. The ability to make a decision.
  2. The ability to take action, making something happen from that decision.
  3. The ability to learn quickly and adapt from successful action and the mistakes.


A Great Decision

Simply put, the wisest decision I see small business owners make, is to invest in themselves. Ask yourself this simple question. How much money or time have I invested to improve myself this year? I suggest 5% of your salary to be invested for education directly related to your profession. If you are a landscape contractor, you start by becoming an expert on the technical portions of your work. If you hope to become a small business millionaire one day, you must become a technical expert in your field.


Buy books, audio and video courses or attend educational seminars to help you learn about turfgrass, horticulture and water management. When you master these skills, focus on becoming a better business person. When you continually invest in yourself, your ability to make decisions becomes easier. You are more confident. You move through the day making things happen while reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes.


Profitable Action

If you have read this far, you are likely a small business owner who knows how to take action! There are two types of action you can take right now to move you closer to becoming one of the millionaire small business owners in your town.

  1. Cost control.
  2. Revenue enhancement.


Better Than the Stock Market

You have the ultimate upside as a small business owner. Unlike an investment in the stock market, you have control! You can make decisions, right now, to raise prices or to lower prices. You can decide to shop a little harder and make certain your vendors are providing a great value to your firm. You can choose to spend energy communicating with your best clients about future work. You have control!


I talk to small business owners daily, mainly owners of landscaping companies. We talk about the Super Lawn Truck system. Many of these small business owners have great intentions about improving their company. They want to control cost so they can be more profitable. And for some, with the best intentions at heart, they focus on the wrong thing. They believe that if they can save a few dollars on an equipment purchase (like buying a used truck), they will control their costs.


No one wants to spend more than they have to on food, fuel or equipment. However, you must realize that your single largest expense in your company is labor. When you invest in equipment that will reduce your labor costs, you win big!


You know this works. If it did not work, you would go down to one of the home improvement stores and purchase a $900 riding tractor instead of a $5000 zero turn mower. It is unlikely you will find your fortune saving money on infrequent equipment purchases. It is highly likely you will win big by implementing strategies that improve productivity! Remember this as you attempt to grow or expand your business.


The Coming Bubble in Landscape Contracting

If you own a landscape company, your future is bright. Three years ago, the bubble began. It was not announced on CNN, NBC, CBS or FOX News. The baby boom generation began to retire. For the next 15 to 20 years, millions more will retire. They will live longer than any generation before us. They will cling to their homes as long as they can. These aging retirees will hire landscape companies to help care for their property. There will be fortunes made serving these baby boomer retirees. The baby boomers are the most affluent generation in our history! They may hire you!


You should spend the majority of your time on revenue enhancement! Begin with your existing clients. Make sure that every client you serve is aware of every type of service you provide. Your existing clients are more likely than any other people in the world to spend money with you in the future. Consider this example.


Just yesterday a client told me a story that explains this perfectly. He said, “I pulled up to my customer’s yard to mow the lawn and there was another landscape company working on the property. They were installing some drain tile. I could have done the job if THEY would have asked me!”


I asked two questions.  “Have you provided a list of all of your services to all of your clients? When was the last time you did this?”


This is my advice to you. Begin today communicating with your best clients more frequently than you ever have in the past. In today’s economy, a winning strategy is to make certain all your clients are reminded monthly about all you could do for them!


Your client’s do not live in your world. They can’t read your mind. It is your responsibility to continually update them about your services. The more frequent you communicate, the more likely it is you will find opportunities within your existing client base. The most effective way to stay connected with your client base is with a monthly newsletter, personal telephone call or personalized email.


Making Mistakes Pays Dividends

In order to prosper during an economic down turn, you must try new things. When you hear a client complain about your “high prices”, take them seriously. Try to “re-engineer” your product or service to fit a lower price point. You need to try new things as you pursue clients with lower price points.


The top 3 examples I can give a landscape contractor to lower costs include:

  • Offer a program with fewer services. Consider offering a special selling lawn maintenance visits on a 10-day rotation instead of weekly visits. You lower your costs by 25% per month, pass the savings onto a new client then later up sell the weekly service plan as the economy improves.
  • Provide options to landscaping prospects. Seeded lawns cost less than sodded lawns. A 600 sq ft patio is a lower cost option to an 800 sq ft patio. A 1 gallon shrub costs less than a 3 gallon shrub. Proposals with options sell.
  • Focus your energy on lowering labor costs. You accomplish this by reducing wasteful practices in your company. Preventing return trips to the shop can improve productivity by 10%-20% each day.  You can invest in productivity enhancing equipment to lower prices.


As a small business owner, you have the ultimate upside. You ARE in control of your own destiny! Begin to make small changes in what you are doing. Test the results on a handful of prospects, keep good notes, then adjust your approach. The economy will work its way through the downturn. You will emerge stronger, smarter and more profitable then ever before!


If you want to learn more strategies for improving your business performance during a tightening economy, check out one of my most popular training programs: Growing Your Landscape, Irrigation, Tree Service or Snow Removal Company. The program comes complete with six audio cd’s or DVD videos and a 152 page workbook. You can order online at www.tonybassconsulting.com .


This article was originally written by Tony Bass, President of Super Lawn Trucks and Tony Bass Consulting in September of 2008.  He can be reached at 866-923-0027 or tony@superlawntrucks.com


Tony would like to invite you the Green Industry Expo, Louisville, KY October 23-25, 2008 booth # 5084.  Stop by for FREE TOUR and register to win a discount coupon of $2000 towards the purchase of your Super Lawn Truck!


About Tony Bass and Tony Bass Consulting:

Tony Bass founded Tony Bass Consulting in 1998 to help businesses in the green industry succeed. As a consultant and through his entertaining keynote speeches, seminars, workshops and educational materials, Bass translates seemingly complex business procedures into easy-to-follow roadmaps and guidelines that sharply reduce the time and stress involved with doing things right. The results include better, more motivated employees, superior business practices across the board and the precious time required to shift from reactive to proactive thinking. Bass bases his counsel on 20 years of green industry experience, including founding, growing and ultimately selling his initially small landscaping business for a seven-figure profit. For more information or to purchase books and audio training products online, visit www.tonybassconsulting.com.