After running a successful catering business in New Milford, Conn., called Food For Thought, Lise Goedewaagen hung up her apron and picked up a garden trowel. Going into business for the second time by opening Outdoor Environments in nearby Gaylordsville, she brought with her some entrepreneurial lessons learned.
• Stay organized. “I developed these habits of list-making and scheduling and planning as I am working toward a goal,” Goedewaagen says. “Whether planning a menu for a party or a landscape installation, everything has to click along at just the right moment.”
• Pass the buck. “I try to delegate as much as I can to my crews so they feel they are really a part of what is happening,” she says. “That way, they feel like they have something invested in the company, and it just helps me to get jobs done better.”
• Cater to clients. Goedewaagen looks for ways to bring more value to clients’ properties and to deepen relationships. “I’m always looking for ways to offer more services to my customers – I want them to trust me to the point where they would give me the keys to their homes to watch over things,” she says, relating that she has started to get into a bit of caretaking since many of the properties she cares for are vacation homes.
• Know your niche. “I just wanted to do gardens,” Goedewaagen says of her business plan. And as for the retail shop, “I’m not trying to be a big garden center. I have no desire to do that.”