I’ve recently become a dog owner and “that crazy dog lady”. You know the one, always showing pictures of her dog even when not asked?
During morning walks I usually have extra time to plan my day or think about the “important stuff”. Unfortunately, due to early hours my train of thoughts usually ends somewhere in “Youdon’twannabehere”.
I had a revelation that behaviour of my dog can be compared to any area of our lives. Including business. Here is a short list of 5 business tips from my dog (to remind you that business is not always serious :D)
Research the market
My dog is really hyper-active. Whenever we go to a new place (even just a new walking path 5 min away from home) he goes mental. Running around, sniffing everything left and right, randomly stopping and observing. No matter the training progress we see at our usual spot, everything diminishes once we visit a new place. Research becomes priority and food slides to the second place.
Market research is important. We need to learn where we are, who are our main customers, competitors and how the game is played. Even when you are a savvy entrepreneur, introducing a new product means everything needs to be reconsidered. While some markets are similar, without a proper market research, you can quickly get lost.
Coca Cola learned it the hard way. Losing 50 million USD for the launch of C2 in 2004. Never heard of it? Neither did I, because the product was a complete failure. C2 had half the calories and carbs while keeping the original flavor. The target audience: 20 – 40-year-old men who like the taste of coke but not the calories. Unfortunately, just cutting calories to half wasn’t good enough. Market research was either skewed, misinterpreted or poorly done. Something any dog wants to avoid.
Stay away from big dogs
My dog always ignores large dogs. As if they are not even there. But with small dogs he gets all excited, trying to jump on them. That’s right, just smashing them to the ground. It’s the same in business.
When starting a company you need to know your primary competitors. These competitors usually aren’t huge companies, like Google or Facebook. Stealing market share from them is quite hard. On the other hand, challenging local competitors or small businesses is a viable plan.
Let’s consider the example of a small clothing line competing with H&M or any other big brand. It can compete with quality and innovation. Other than that it’s extremely hard. It cannot afford big marketing budget, outsourcing, or ordering quantities large enough to achieve competitive price. It is easier to start with gaining customers leaning towards buying from local entrepreneurs, or customers with a unique fashion style. Find your niche. Then you won’t even need to compete with big brands in order to succeed. And in best case scenario, a big brand might acquire you for an insane value.
This is exactly what happened to Cheap Monday. The brand started as a small second-hand store in Sweden, later creating own jeans designs and finally selling 40% of the company to H&M in 2008 (just after 8 years of operating). Valuation? 91.5 million USD.
Start your day early
Every morning, 6 a.m. sharp I hear little paws running towards my bedroom door. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday, Sunday, or my birthday. It’s time to get up and start the day. The first thing is a walk – the most important task for my dog. It’s followed by breakfast and a nap.
For running a successful business you shouldn’t work according to a day in a week. Simply do what needs to be done. Starting a day early will increase your productivity and enable you to deal with important stuff early on.
Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. just to get a head start on the rest of the world, and he is not the only one. On the list of successful entrepreneurs waking up early you can find Tim Cook, Kevin O’Leary, Jack Dorsey, Indra Nooyi, and many others.
Follow the food!
Positive motivation is the bomb when raising dogs. They’ll literally do anything for food. You can teach them how to overcome fears, do tricks, and just well behave in general.
The main motivation? Survival. And that’s what you need to follow in business.
When you’re not rewarded for a new product, try to pivot the idea. Follow the food, don’t starve just because you believe the idea is perfect. Listen to your customers, they are the hand that feeds you.
Sleep is important and so are friends
In the startup era, everyone tries to work more, “hustle all day long”. But this eventually leads to breakdowns and burnouts. No, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that.
My dog is completely aware of this fact, sleeping at least 10 hours per day. How else could he reach his full potential for long afternoon walks? He understands the importance of bonding. Hanging out with friends enables sharing good behaviour, nurtures confidence, and resolves issues with cats.
Embrace the mentality of working smart and not just working hard. Prioritise tasks, be efficient. Live a successful life without caffeine pills (they don’t work anyhow), go out once in awhile.
I love chatting with people and imagining what I could sell them to solve their problems. Observing the world, hearing out different perspectives, will shape you into a problem solver.
Nothing sells better.