At Motivators we see tons of businesses, large and small, old and new, with a common goal: to build brand awareness and loyalty. For startups trying to get off the ground, it's easier than you might think to run a successful company... Just look to the dogs. This is what I learned about business from my eager border collie, Brodie:
1 - Don't Live in the Past
You may have tried starting other businesses before or you may have had set-backs with your startup, but no matter what happened in the past, leave it there. Dogs live in the moment. And that's a lesson we can take from them beyond the business world, too. Sure, they have memories just like we do, but they don't let the past define them. When I teach Brodie a new trick, he doesn't care that he didn't get it right the first time; he keeps trying until he succeeds; he keeps working for the treat. Don't let past failures get in the way of current successes.
2 - Show the Love
At the dog park, on walks and when visitors come to my home, Brodie always greets newcomers with a wagging tail. Whether it's on the phone, at your office or out and about, happily greet everyone you come in contact with. A smile, a handshake and a welcoming demeanor go a long way when it comes to networking. And when you're trying to get a startup company off the ground, networking is key!
3 - Dig for Buried Treasure
Luckily, Brodie's not a digger, but if there were a piece of pup-peroni buried in the ground I'm sure he'd make an exception. Not every opportunity will present itself to you; sometimes you have to look for it. Sometimes you have to look really hard. Don't be afraid to make a mess once in a while in pursuit of something great.
4 - Find Your Motivation
Some dogs are motivated by play, others by food, others simply by attention. For Brodie, it's definitely food. He'll do just about anything for a treat. Figure out what motivates you and your team, and use that to fuel the success of your company. Incentive programs, bonuses, competition - whatever it might be - find their motivation, and you'll have a team that's just as eager as you are to see your startup hit the ground running.
5 - Chase What You Know You Can't Catch
Maybe you won't be a multi-billion-dollar corporation within the next five years, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't chase that dream. I'm not saying you should judge your success based on accomplishing unreachable goals. I'm saying to acknowledge that it probably won't happen, but go for it anyway. Brodie probably won't catch that squirrel (or coyote, which he actually did catch... long story) but the chase is what makes it fun. He knows birds can fly. He knows the waves retreat. He knows he has no hope. But when the opportunity presents itself, he makes a run for it anyway. "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" (Les Brown).
6 - Enjoy the Ride
When I ask Brodie, "Do you want to go for a ride in the car?" he immediately perks up and goes to the front door. He doesn't care where we're going. He's just along for the ride. In business, it's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind, chasing leads and goals. It's important to have goals and to work toward them, but don't become so focused on the end result that you lose sight of how you're getting there. You have to stick your head out the window and let the wind blow on your face every once in a while.
7 - Create a Harmonious Pack
Dogs are not loners. They're pack animals. They live together, hunt together, travel together. Each member of the pack has an individual role, but they all work collectively to accomplish the goals of the pack. Your pack is your team, your employees. I don't care how stellar you are as the Alpha or leader, you need a great pack, working together, in order to succeed. Treat every member of your team as a vital component of your company.
8 - Do Tricks for Treats
If you have a potential new client or customer, don't be afraid to do some tricks to earn their business. Give them some free promos, for example. Let that customer know how much working with them means to you. "Show" always works better than "tell." So show them how buying your product or utilizing your service will benefit them. Sometimes I'll ask Brodie to do several tricks before giving him the treat, but that doesn't mean you should start pulling out all the stops and overwhelming your potential customers. Start small - paw - then maybe step it up a little - roll over - and finally finish with the closer - clean up your toys.
9 - Bark When it Matters
Even for dog-lovers, that constant, yippy barking gets annoying. Dogs that bark at every little thing just cause frustration. They end up being tuned out and ignored. Thankfully, Brodie is the perfect barker. He sounds the alarm when someone is at the door or something unusual happens and lets out a polite woof when he has to go outside. When I acknowledge him, he immediately settles down. But his bark is significant. It means something. It's not just noise. In your business, you have to speak up - whether it's to your clients or to your employees - without getting drowned out. Don't let your bark become background noise. And don't let intruders waltz in without warning either. Make it count.
10 - Find Strength to Walk Away
Giving up is not easy but sometimes, it's necessary. It's not a failure. It's just an obstacle on your path to success. When Brodie wants to play, he does everything in his power to get my attention. He'll bring me toy after toy. If that doesn't work, he'll try putting his head on my lap. If that doesn't work, he may fling the toy around so that it knocks into me. He is nothing if not persistent. But eventually he realizes that no matter what he does, I'm just not going to play with him at that time. He walks away, and with a sigh lies on his bed. A few minutes later he may take a new toy and just chew it on his own. Dedication and hard work are imperative. You have to give it your all before throwing in the towel, but knowing when to throw in that towel is half the battle. And being comfortable with your decision, moving on and not dwelling on what could have been, is the other half. That's when it's time to start something new!
BONUS Trick #11 - Never Stop Learning
You absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. Even after your startup takes off and becomes a huge success, your work doesn't end there. Keep your mind open to the ever-changing world of business and always be willing to learn new things. Learn from your past, learn from your mistakes, learn from your achievements, learn from the experiences of others - just learn. Marketing practices change. Customer interactions change. Even the rules of your niche can change. Make sure you keep up. No matter how many tricks Brodie learns, he's always eager to master another one. Hold on to your drive to move your company up and onward. Never stop learning.