Before I was mom to my two-year-old Xavier, I was the proud pet parent of my two pups, Darby and Lady.
These two were by our side (literally next to my desk) as my husband and I started our content marketing and ghostwriting business, WR Writing, and along the way, they imparted some lessons to us in their own doggy ways about running a business. Here is what they taught me.
1. Training is a must
Your dog’s behavior often boils down to one thing: training. Dogs that begin training as puppies often behave better than those who start later in life, so take the same approach with your employees. When you hire someone new, invest in their training. It can make a big difference in their performance (and their investment in your company.)
An important part of training isn’t just ensuring they have the skills needed to do their job, but also that they understand the brand you want to present to your customers. As part of this process, it can be helpful to create an employee handbook. You can find some tools for doing so on Inc.com.
When constructing your handbook, remember that employees are more likely to pay attention to the content if you avoid jargon and write in a more casual manner. The employee handbook should include sections on standards for digital conduct as well as illustrating ethical situations employees may face. In addition, make sure you take the time to introduce them to aspects of company culture and your history so that they can get a feel for what your business is really about.
Feedback is essential in the early training process. Human beings aren’t so different from dogs in that we perform better when given positive reinforcement. When problems need to be addressed, it’s important to do so immediately. As a result, new employees will understand your expectations and have the opportunity to learn efficiently.
2. Be consistent
A lack of routine is a top cause of anxiety for dogs, and it can be for you as well. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s rare for two days to be exactly alike. New challenges and opportunities arise to handle, but you can’t let yourself get bogged down in reactionary responses.
Make certain parts of your day, week, or month sacred. For instance, maybe you set aside 30 minutes every morning to handle email, or you sit down to do billing every Friday without fail. Also, set work hours for yourself even if you have to deviate from them occasionally. There is a sense of freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur, but a lack of some sort of structure can ultimately lead to more anxiety. Establish a routine to make sure key things are taken care of; it will do wonders for your stress levels.
3. Bark – loudly
Okay, it might not be behavior you’d think about imitating, but consider this: the whole neighborhood knows about the existence of that dog that won’t stop barking day or night. Of course, you don’t want your business to have a negative reputation, but you need to get the word out – loudly – that you exist, particularly in the beginning.
Word-of-mouth can be a strong driver of business, but if no one’s using your services or buying your products yet, there’s no one to recommend you. Don’t be shy – bark about it!
It can sometimes be hard to be heard if you’re in a crowded space, so look for places where you face less noise from competitors. For instance, it may be hard to get established as a top seller on eBay, so you could also try establishing a presence on a newer site with fewer sellers, like SheepBuy. Or maybe you’re not gaining much traction on Pinterest, so you could try the less saturated but similar social network, Polyvore. The fewer “dogs” you’re competing with, the more likely your bark will be heard.
4. Give it your all
If your dog is going to do something – whether it’s greeting you at the front door or chewing your shoes – you can bet that they’ll put their whole body and soul into it. Everything that a dog does is done as if it is the most important thing in the world.
Building a business takes guts, so don’t shy away from the endeavor once you’re started. Love what you do, and throw yourself into it. You’re more likely to be successful – and more likely to enjoy it.
Tonight you will look at your dogs in a different light, now able to appreciate their entrepreneurial insight. There are all sorts of things your dog can teach you! And they will be there by your side through your business endeavors as Lady and Darby were for me. I’m sure they would want me to add a tip about the importance of being well-fed…after all, it’s hard to run a business on an empty stomach!
Calling all dog moms! What have you learned from your pooches that you apply to your business? Share with us in the comments.
Latest posts by Juliana Weiss-Roessler (see all)
- 4 Things Your Dog Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship - September 2, 2014