A dog is said to be man’s best friend, and whether you favour the handbag-sized version or something a little bigger, your dog can teach you some important things about running your business.
Unlike cats that tend to be loyal to the person holding the cat food, a dog is loyal to its owner. In your business this translates to looking after your staff and your existing clients first, before chasing after new business opportunity.
Your existing clients have bought from you in the past and are more likely to do so again in the future than a brand new off the street contender. Little touches like Christmas and birthday cards can build the relationship that you have and the loyalty to you and your brand and mean that you are more likely to receive referrals from their friends and family.
Treat your staff well, make sure that they feel valued and engaged in the business and where you can try to make their life a little easier. Help them to have a productive day by setting clear boundaries and goals and then not micromanaging them. If they ask for a day off, and it’s not going to cripple your business, say yes and build some goodwill – let them rave about you to their friends and family – in a good way!
2. Mark your territory
This can be really important depending on the type of business that you run and the product or service that you sell. I’m not talking about literally, the ‘wetting the lamp post’ sort of way, but more about copyrighting photographs, training material, e-books and online content to prevent other people passing your work off as their own. There is nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge, but you should be acknowledged as the source, so that you can build your reputation as an expert.
If you’ve developed a completely new concept or written a piece of music, you may need to think about registering a patent – which could then lead on to a source of passive income through royalties. You could be the next James Dyson.
3. Be curious
Dogs are interested in the world around them and love to follow new smells, often chasing off into the undergrowth. You can take this as literally as you want, but what I mean is that the world doesn’t stay still and you cannot just keep your head down ploughing on regardless. Be aware of changes within your industry and how they may affect your business, aim to be ahead of the game, not dragged along behind.
Be curious about your clients, who are they and what do they really want you to help them with? Take time in your initial meetings to find out about them, before you bombard them with all the wonderful things that you can do to help them. This will let you tailor how you present your proposition, so that they understand the benefits of working with you.
Someone who is a busy working parent with a tiring commute is typically going to be more interested in your efficiency, speed of service and the way that you can deal with the whole matter on their behalf, than haggling over price or the minute details of the amazing product that you sell.
Conversely, someone on a really tight budget may benefit from you explaining a choice of product options, along with payment plans and offers/ discounts.
Once you understand this, you can provide the best possible service.
With existing clients you may choose to send out a client survey in a paper or online format, and there are many ways to do this – but to be honest a chat with a few of your favourite / longest standing / most profitable clients about why they chose to work with you, and whether they would refer you to their friends is usually more effective. People get bombarded these days with surveys online (and on the bottom or till receipts) and you want them to know that you are genuinely interested in their thoughts.
A final point
Dogs are pleased to see you and (usually) have happy faces and wagging tails – be pleased to speak to your existing and new/ prospective clients – smile down the telephone and don’t prejudge anyone. You could be speaking to the person who may refer to you your ideal client, and by being open-minded and approachable you will meet a lot more people and have a lot more fun!