Mitigating stress as a business owner: Matt Hiner Email
Written by Lyn Dean   
Tuesday, March 09, 2021 02:00 AM

Matt Hiner founded his company to help others have a peaceful outside area on their own property. After all, he used his own outdoor living space to relax and de-stress. Who knew that after opening his business, it would feel like he was starting over each year for multiple years?

“Seasonality was the hardest part, especially as a startup,” he says. “I’d work all summer to get myself out of a [financial] hole and just when I’m ‘hitting my stride,’ winter comes and the phone stops ringing. I have to start over.” This went on for several years.

Hiner persevered with his business because he “loves the creative aspects—picking materials, designing and building a piece of paradise for a client to escape.” It’s a passion.

Business ownership is not for the faint of heart  
“I’m open and transparent, because that’s who I am,” admits Hiner. “I’m up front with people and share the challenges of the business.”

He follows open-book management based on the book, The Great Game of Business, which encourages owners to involve employees in creating the success of the business. By sharing financial information, employees understand how their work contributes to the company’s success. Being open and sharing is in sync with Hiner’s personality.

For nearly 10 years, “I prided myself in never missing payroll. That changed two winters ago when building a Garden & Home booth. I was walking a thin line because someone didn’t pay on time. When I told the crew I couldn’t pay them this week but would pay as soon as the customer paid, I expected half them to leave. Instead, they doubled down, did the work and stayed on.”

For Hiner, this was a milestone event. “It’s when our business turned around. We caught the rhythm. The people bought in to the business, not just me. We experienced adversity together and now our team is stronger.” On reflection, he thinks his vulnerability and transparency were key factors.

In recent years, Hiner has been no strange to transparency and has shared the struggles of business ownership on Instagram where he has acquired a large following.

Core belief supports learning, moving forward
“I believe strongly that things happen for us, not to us,” Hiner says. “I try to keep the perspective that there is always a lesson, and this keeps me from going into a victim mentality.” He and the business have been in tough places. Hiner can’t always see the ‘lesson’ right away. “Sometimes it takes time. I have to look back to get a clearer picture of what the experience taught me. Sometimes I have a restlessness when I can’t find the learning, and it can pour into my home life. At times, I rely on my wife’s perspective. She may see something I’m missing.” When he struggles in this way, he is aware that he “needs to have humility and find ways to improve.”

Putting things into perspective
“Anxiety is looking at the future consequences of something that hasn’t even happened,” reflects Hiner. “Over the years, I’ve learned that the world is not going to end. By living through some stuff—like missing that payroll or not getting a project—I have learned that things will be OK. There will be another day.”

This isn’t to say Hiner doesn’t get stressed. He cares about his employees, and their families and bills. “It’s a blessing and honor to have them. I don’t take it lightly. I want to be a good steward of their trust.”

Recently, he has come to realize the importance of developing a routine that “puts the mind in the right spot.” He started practicing gratitude writing every morning. “This has been a huge game-changer for me. My mind has shifted. I have a more positive mindset at both work and at home.”

Work/home boundaries
“It’s a process to learn the work/life boundaries,” Hiner acknowledges. “I’m not sure it is ever ‘achieved.’ It’s a constant balancing act.” He recognizes that self-awareness is key to turning off a work problem. This is also “a process, and I’m working on it.”

“I realize the problems at work will be there when I return. But my babies won’t be babies for long, so it means putting down the phone and not talking about work.” My wife and kids are my reminders “to hold myself accountable.”

Mentoring a stressed business owner
Go down the rabbit hole.
What if the what-ifs you imagine, actually happen? It’s still going to be fine. You’ll find you can still take a step in some direction.

Believe in yourself and be present.
If you’re depressed, you’re letting in the past. If you’re anxious, you’re living in the future. When we’re happy we are living in the present.”

We’re not alone. Entrepreneurs don’t have a boss go to, but find a coach or mentor. ALCC helps provide this. When you get involved, you’re surrounded by peers at all levels in the journey of business ownership.

Notice if you’re putting too much weight into the business. If you’re constantly stressed and anxious, maybe it’s time to take a timeout and find something else to get excited about

This article by Lyn Dean originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Colorado Green magazine in a four-part look at how entrepreneurs manage the stress of running a business.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Landscape Career Pathways continue, though smaller due to pandemic
Top dressing and the power of organic matter

Communicating with employees about COVID vaccines

Mitigating stress as a business owner: Cindy McCord