Posts Tagged ‘xeri-scaping’

Class: Growing a Business

I recently finished the class Growing a Business with Marie Peacock. She is a landscaper of about 12 years and she has been teaching this class to help others get the information she would have loved to have when she started. It was a very interactive class made up of everything from current landscapers/business owners that are looking to learn more to people like me that are trying to figure out whether or not to dive into this industry on our own. She encouraged questions and discussion so that we could learn from each other as much as from her. She also didn’t sugar-coat her information, which made us really take a good look at what we were doing or what we wanted to do from a business perspective rather than a personal one.

After we went around the room and introduced ourselves, since we would be working together for four classes, she had us define the word “entrepreneur.” The literal translation from French is “risk-taker.” Everyone was there to take risks, some had already made the leap, others were considering it seriously enough to pay for a class on it. The next thing she told us was that she wanted us all to succeed. There was work enough for all of us. I think it helped that as we introduced ourselves, we each discussed what we were hoping┬áto achieve. Except for the two students that were there to start a business together, none of us had identical goals. One other person was focused on food production, as I am. Some were interested in natives, some in xeri-scaping. Some of us wanted to get our hands dirty, some were more interested in purely design. There would be some overlap in the edges of some of the proposed or actual businesses, but not as much direct competition as you might see in other industries.

Of course, the variety of possibilities means that unless you are a basic lawn-mowing-type service, there isn’t a going rate. Much of the class was helping us understand the expenses that go with owning and running a business, there are a lot, and how to price our services fairly but still allowing us to make money. After all, for most of us the hope is for the business to partially or totally support us. Even as the child of business owners, I didn’t know much about owning and running your own business except that it’s hard. As difficult as it is, and as much as you need to know, I am now feeling like I could actually handle it. Prior to this class the whole idea was overwhelming.

I very much enjoyed the fact that it was taught by a non-business-major business owner. She learned this information the hard way, as many of us had or expected to. She was also focused on what we really needed to know rather than what a more official business teacher might have considered necessary. As a gardener herself, she was able to point out the things that we would need to learn, like payroll and taxes, even though it probably wasn’t at the top of the list of things that interested us.

I have enjoyed all of my classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens, but this one had the most camaraderie by far. Marie told us on the first night that she wanted questions and observations, and her willingness to not just answer them, but engage in discussions about them really encouraged us to share our own stories and ask each other questions. There was one major drawback to this class, though. Marie was so willing to share information and answer questions that I didn’t want to leave the room for the break in the middle of class for fear I would miss something.