It’s astonishing to me how many times I have found events in my personal life have resulted in a lesson or observation that chimes perfectly with my professional life.
Meet Lando. The newest and most gorgeous member of our family (and, may I say, responsible for much homework and professional procrastination from both me and my boys!)
In the weeks leading to his arrival and over the last few days, the parallels between puppy and business ownership have been bubbling up.
“It’s only too much if you let it be too much.”
Firstly, when I made my intentions public about our new arrival, I received LOTS of comments asking how I could possibly be thinking about getting a puppy. “Why on earth are you getting a puppy – won’t it be too much when you already have so much on your plate!?” seemed to be the common theme. And I found myself giving the same answer that I say a lot when discussing either when is the right time to start a new business, or when you already have a business but are considering a new project or development:
If you haven’t got the structure in place, lack the discipline, don’t want to do the research – yes. It will be a headache. But if you HAVE those things, you’re set.
So, in this analogy, I’ve laid all of the groundwork. I’ve looked into training, planned insurance, researched nutrition and food requirements, organised vet registration, sorted out pet passports, read about travelling with a dog. I’ve surrounded myself with people familiar with the breed and have been okay with asking questions and learning from others.
And to me that is just like a business – you do the legwork, you learn from others, you ask the right questions, you aren’t afraid of saying “hang on, I don’t understand.”
“You can have anything you want; you just can’t have everything.”
The other part of the answer to that question, “Why are you getting a puppy?” is simple.
Because I really want one.
And being able to make decisions like this is a big part of the reason why I do the work I do: I want the flexibility to be able to own a dog, be available for my children and otherwise lead the lifestyle I enjoy.
I can own Lando. This means I can’t live in a chi-chi apartment.
I can own Lando. This means I can’t get a sexy sportscar.
I can run a business in a way that allows me to be available for my children (and my puppy). This means I may not be at my full earning potential.
Life is a matter of balances and choices, decisions and compromises.
You can have the business that you want. That will come with both perks and disadvantages. Are you willing to have both?
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Another similarity between puppy and business ownership: Despite his diminutive stature today, Lando is going to be a big boy someday. And – as tempting as it is to focus on how small and cute he is, despite how easy it would be to do the easy thing and revel in playing and watching him pootling about and yapping sweetly – if I want him to end up being the kind of dog I am proud of, that means knuckling down and doing some legwork now.
Sounds like being a business owner too, no?
The puppy training manual I’m reading by Steve Man discusses a training philosophy which says: (just like in the business world) control and management is your best friend.
Control over expenditure. Control over your customer experience. Managing your team. Understanding your sales process. Managing your marketing.
Sticking your head in the sand is never going to results in a well-trained puppy – or a well-run business. So, if you want a successful business, don’t wait forever to do the hard stuff. To carry out the plan. To make the difficult decisions.
Train that puppy now!!
I promise you, you’ll appreciate the results.