Mitigating stress as a business owner: Cindy McCord Email
Written by Lyn Dean   
Tuesday, March 09, 2021 03:00 AM

Being a business owner is the biggest personal development component in my life,” says Cindy McCord, president and owner for 15 years. Over those years, McCord has realized how important it is for her to continually practice self-awareness, especially as the company grew. To modulate stress, “the most important thing is to manage the inner voice and thoughts in my own mind,” she says.

Grow with change
“Change and growth are always happening,” she acknowledges. She emphasizes that growth refers not only to revenue growth, but also the growth of employees and herself.

“The overarching question is, ‘what is the personal and professional evolution of the entrepreneur?’ As owner, I’m leading a team. I need to be self-aware and govern my own energy in both positive and negative situations.”

Empower others to improve

McCord says her business exists to empower others and this message is embedded into the company’s mission statement: To empower people to improve their environment.” She points out that the ‘environment’ refers to the clients’ landscapes and employees’ personal environment and the company.

As part of the mission, she wants to help those on her team develop their own self-awareness—of their engagement level and performance—and govern their own headspace so they can bring their best to work and benefit from working there.

“Building a business is both altruistic and self-serving. My daily motivation is to provide financial and personal development opportunities to individuals and the team as a whole. If they are successful in developing their own skill set, it helps them and the business.”

Managing stress and managing people
She admits that developing the business and managing employees and their growth “is the hardest thing I’ve ever done for my own growth.” To manage stress, first I have “to manage my own mindset,” and second is to “set appropriate boundaries for employees and customers.”

As the business grew, she learned that the company can say no to clients who aren’t a good fit. For employees, she has an open-door policy, but employees must follow processes and not skip over their supervisors before coming to her. “Employees typically ‘look up’ [the line of management] for answers,” she says. “I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have a crystal ball.” (She can no longer say that after an employer gave her a small orb). She points out that she doesn’t solve a problem for them. “I ask the right questions to help ‘lead’ them down the path rather than tell them the answer. I don’t want to ‘do it for them’ just because it’s faster.”

Clarity breaks
As the person at the top, where does McCord go for answers? She starts by looking inside.

“I have to take clarity breaks,” she says. “I need space to put all the pieces together to work with a problem. It’s like working a Rubik’s cube. I can’t access this space during the busyness of a day.” But she is committed to finding this space and has learned that it’s fine to disconnect from the business for a half-day or day. “To see more clearly I need to step back. It’s self-care. It’s a kind of mental rejuvenation.” McCord is also an avid reader of “all things” and “loves to consume information,” which can be useful in problem-solving.

Additionally, McCord looks outside to see what others are doing. She praises the generosity and openness of other ALCC business owners and vendors. Developing relationships is very important to her and ALCC provides those opportunities.

Bench strength is self-care
“The greatest act of self-care for an entrepreneur is to develop bench strength. This is how to create more time,” says McCord. “Time is the most valuable commodity. You can always make more money, but not more time.” She says she is “tending to her team” to develop the bench strength she wants that will give her more time.

Key takeaways after 15 years
“I never take the business for granted, and emotionally, I still run hard,” admits McCord. After this many years, “I have come to trust my experience” During times of uncertainty, such as during 2020, she believes leaders need to be more visible, be honest about what’s going on, and admit there are unknowns. It is also important to build the team’s confidence by reminding them of past successes. She muses about growth and what it means. “It is vital to know your ‘why.’ Why do you want to grow? What kind of growth do you want? Often, focusing on development of the team first, yields better revenue and profit.”

“I’ve learned that surprises happen, and they teach mental flexibility. Learn from mistakes, don’t dwell on them,” says McCord. “I have gratitude for my experience as an entrepreneur— for the professional and especially the personal development. I learn as I go."

This article by Lyn Dean originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Colorado Green magazine.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Mitigating stress as a business owner: Matt Hiner
Landscape Career Pathways continue, though smaller due to pandemic

Top dressing and the power of organic matter

Communicating with employees about COVID vaccines