Make a ‘Business Owner’s Income’

I met with Michele over lunch a couple weeks ago.  Michele owns a landscaping company and designs gorgeous backyards, front yards and everything in between.  Her projects are works of art.

She spends a lot of time on the design and on picking out just the right kind of plants, shrubs and flowers to create a particular look.  She’s very good and has a good reputation in the business.

“I’m so busy with the work,” she says.  “I enjoy the work, but I’m just not making very much money!  I don’t understand how I can be so busy, but not making anything close to a business owner’s income!”

I told Michele about work productivity and how some tasks were revenue generating tasks, and other tasks were just administrative.  And that some tasks could only be done by her (the artistic design) and other tasks could be outsourced.

Michele agreed to sit down to go over her business processes to look where we might be able to save her some time.

We went over her sales process, her design process and the delivery and installation process.

We found a good number of things that Michele did that didn’t require her to be actually doing the task—tasks that were critical to the project, but that didn’t need her direct involvement.

Tasks such as measuring the client’s property lines, recording location and type of existing plants and shrubs, and inputting the measurements into the software—these were tasks that she could easily train someone else to do.

Scheduling meetings and keeping track of client questions, questionnaire responses and timelines were other tasks that could be outsourced.

Another time-consuming task that we realized could be outsourced was having someone on site when the plants were delivered.

I asked Michele if there was any part of the job that was really tiresome or unpleasant for her.  “The spreadsheet estimate,” she said without hesitation. “It takes me so long to get through the pricing, sourcing, categorizing, organizing, totaling, and…  I just don’t like that part of the job at all.”

The spreadsheet estimate is mission-critical to the project, but is one of the tasks that Michele liked least.  Being an artist, she was naturally not a big fan of spreadsheets.  We discussed this a bit and found that about 75% of the spreadsheet work could be handled by an administrative assistant, and the remainder only needed Michele’s review and final approval.

In all, we identified 3 kinds of outsourced help that Michele could use to make her business run more efficiently: a graphics design person, a gardening assistant, and an administrative assistant.

We were able to identify about 20% of the work that Michele does that could be outsourced.  Even better, when we worked through the cost of outsourcing, we estimated that if the saved time were used to book two or three more jobs in a year, it would completely pay for the cost of outsourcing.

Michele now has the information she needs to greatly improve her productivity.  By focusing on the work that only she can do (and likes to do), she can make better use of her time, and bring in more revenue at the same time.

Check out Michele’s awesome landscaping work at