Don’t be this dude. Get out of the comfort zone now.
We have all seen the cartoons and the old movies where the unsuspecting dude falls into quicksand. He struggles to get out making it worse for himself and eventually succumbs to the engulfing nature of this phenomenon. Quicksand can be likened to the comfort zone we find ourselves in with our business. We never intend to be there. By the time we realize we are in it, we scramble to get out and it’s too late, we are lost in this abyss forever. However, there is one major difference between quicksand and the comfort zone.
The comfort zone kills businesses all the time.
It’s a couple weeks into the new year. You have set some goals in hopes of reaching new levels in your business. But, the comfort zone is killing your business. This place can be characterized by feelings of familiarity, ease, and freedom. It is freedom from pain, distress, and fear. So how is it killing your business?
This place keeps us serving the same clients, doing the same services, and never learning, growing and progressing. This is why we see the landscape guys that continuously stay the same. They have the same decent truck and decent equipment servicing the same ok routes they always had. Years go by and we can still spot them on a mower in the same area we saw them before. So what benefits do we see from leaving this place?
Grow and Increase Revenue
By leaving the comfort zone we explore a new world where we are doing a variety of services and upselling our existing clients. For example, I see many contractors get stuck in just doing basic maintenance where profit margins are relatively low (less than 10%), but if they just got comfortable with basic design and landscape installations they would see a lot more profit (around 25-30%). They also refuse to change their portfolio of clients. Sure, some clientele may be slightly more difficult to obtain, but they also enable you to grow much more quickly. By diversifying your portfolio a little you can explore where your sweet spot is and where you can earn more. Knowing who your best clientele is will help you to grow to the point of working on your business instead of in your business.
Beat the Competition
Many contractors are limited in what they can offer their clients. By venturing outside of this comfort mentality you will become more appealing to potential clients. For example, once I was able to offer more than just the basic services I became a one-stop shop for property managers. Whereas my competitors were only offering landscape maintenance, I also offered irrigation, pest control, and design/build options for communities. This eliminated the need to hire more vendors and it meant less “finger pointing” issues for them. You must become an unmatched resource if you wish to beat the competition. There has to be something that makes you stand out at least the slightest bit. It’s not limited to the services you offer, but this difference can be easy to implement changes to your business. Cleaner trucks, faster email responses, and clean workers who smile are all minor changes that can make a difference in the eyes of your clients.
The comfort zone doesn’t just kill your business, but it kills your attitude towards the business. Eventually, doing the same things, never growing, and seeing absolutely no reward from your grueling hard work will kill any passion you once had. Even if you are happy now, how happy do you think you will be if you are in the exact same spot 5 years from now? We have to find ways to get excited again. If we go outside this comfort zone, we will find new things to get excited about. My recommendation is to find out what you loved about this business in the first place and dig deeper. You like plants? Try visiting a nursery, learning all the plants there, and researching them. Plant identification is by far one of the most important things you can do to impress your clients. You like marketing? Discover new ways to market to your clients and become the best at it. The better you get at something, the more you will like it.
In some of those old movies we see how the adventurer gets out. They stay calm, find help from someone else, and pull themselves out. It is uncomfortable, messy and can be extremely hard. The same applies with our own business. We need to calmly put together a plan, get help from friends/mentors and eventually we will have the way to get ourselves out. It probably won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Challenge yourself to leave the comfort zone behind and become familiar with the land of discomfort and progress.
I agree with so many points in this article. We all have the tendency to get stuck in a comfort zone routine. Many business coaches mention that if you don’t grow you “die”; the business begins to lose traction and the owners lose the joy of running their business, which could mean the loss of future business and maybe even go out of business. Growth means setting goals and challenging yourself.
I really like the point of upselling existing clients with many other services and avoiding “the finger pointing” if other vendors provided services that must complement your services, such as pest control. Being the one-stop shop for the client has so many advantages for the client and business owner which can lead to cost savings for both.
The last part of finding good mentors and friends to help you grow your business is what I am struggling with. Do you have more information on how you found mentors and good friends to help you?