Mitigating stress: Mike Moore Email
Written by Lyn Dean   
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 01:00 AM

"Other people have been here before,” says Mike Moore, CEO. “Some things are very painful to navigate on your own. It was a wild ride in the first few years” after founding the company. “The costs of a coach were quickly repaid in avoided mistakes and revenue gains.”

Transition to business owner
Both Moore and his wife and business partner, Jessica, worked for a landscape company as employees before founding Diggable Designs. “I didn’t expect the transition from laborer and manager to business owner to be so challenging,” admits Moore. “You can be a master at landscape design or installation, but now I had to learn to master things having nothing to do with landscaping. I didn’t expect to be dealing so much with workers compensation and safety issues or realize how little I’d be talking about landscaping!”

Moore has noticed that the emotional toll of starting and running the business weighs differently on different people. Jessica, who plays various executive roles behind the scenes, is happy to leave Moore in the “hot seat” of the CEO position for which both believe he is a better match. “There are different levels of involvement and I get invigorated wearing a lot of different hats,” he says.

He learned a lot in a relatively short time and confesses, “These first 10 years feel like 20! I get tired and sometimes struggle with the emotional wear and tear.”

Commitment to employees
“What keeps me up at night is the success of the people who work for me,” says Moore. “At peak times, I don’t want them to burn out and in low season, I want them to be able to pay their rent.”

“As an owner, I’ve moved further in my life and I want my employees to do well. I ask, ‘How can I shape the business so they can move ahead and progress further’? This is stressful for me. These people matter to me.”

To keep employees growing at Diggable and in their personal lives, Moore confesses that the company needs a more robust benefits package. “Health insurance and financial security are common core needs,” he says. Last season, Moore lost a good employee, whose wife was expecting a baby, to a company with more benefits. “I don’t blame him for that choice. People have to navigate life and we hope to provide a more well-rounded support package soon.”

Culture is working but suffered in 2020
During the past five years Diggable Designs has had good employee retention. “We were doing a lot of things right. But in 2020, I felt very disconnected from my people. We couldn’t offer the activities that have helped build the culture, such as group core training and events.”

It’s tough for the company to keep people busy in the off-season. Though only a few are working, he found it “heartbreaking when a manager was not his usual vibrant self. Yes, it’s the slow season, but he’s been limited in his activities during the pandemic such as playing sports with his friends.

Work-life balance is a big part of our culture and though he had plenty of work, many of his usual destressing activities were limited.”

Chilling out
Home is for family. “The children are our saving grace,” Moore shares. “Although some people think it must be really hard working with a spouse, we both appreciate knowing all the details about how the company is doing, but we do that while at work. We are saner at home because we don’t have to talk about work. We’re caught up.”

Moore considers the children a good distraction that helps reduce the stresses of work. “Whether playing games or wrestling them into the tub, having something to think about other than work or the pandemic has been nice.”

Looking back

“I’ve learned that when I’m ‘in the fire’, life seems to be flying by too fast to take it all in. When I do look back, I think, ‘Wow, I’ve actually learned quite a bit!’ But I still feel like a newbie.” As his experiences accumulate, he sees “serious strides in how much I have learned and do feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Most of his growth as a business owner has been trial-by-fire, though he does a lot of reading and self-educating and has used several business coaches. He wants to do well. Overall, he says the business has been “really good” for personal growth. He is a better decision-maker and “doesn’t wobble so much. If I make a wrong decision, I have confidence to correct it and aim to do better on the next one. That’s what it’s all about.”

Advice for new entrepreneurs
“Take professional advice,” he emphasizes. “I wish I had done it earlier. Some things are tough without help. It will cost some money, but find a way to work with a business coach as early as possible.”

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
COVID vaccine eligibility increases in Colorado
Despite big snowstorms, drought drags on

Mitigating stress: Mike Leman