See the Dog, Not Just the Puppy, for Business Success

dogDid you know that four million cats and dogs are put to sleep each year because no one wants them? As an animal lover, that figure shocks me. Who doesn't love a fuzzy kitten, or a sweet little puppy? Recently, I had a lady call, and ask me if I wanted to buy-back a "puppy" that I'd sold her three years ago. She'd loved him as a puppy, but puppies grow up to be big dogs, and she'd decided that she didn't want him anymore. Happily, "Curly" is now a much-loved member of our family. 
What was his problem?  According to his first owner, he was retrieving 10 lb. rocks from the Lake of the Ozarks, a resort community in Missouri. Personally, I was pretty proud of that achievement because, after all, he is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. In retrospect, perhaps she should have bought a yorkie! Her expectations didn't match her results, so after three years, she decided to quit.
Puppies are cute, so emotions for new owners can be unrealistic. This woman, like many new owners, saw the puppy - not the dog. Little dogs grow up to be big dogs. Big dogs need a big yard, and bigger bowls. They need a bigger bed. Big dogs have bigger appetites and bigger vet bills. They shed more hair, bark louder, jump higher, and play more. If you live in a 10th Floor apartment, work full time, and travel some, a 120 pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not your ideal pet.
Then there's the process of raising the dog. Soon new owners see the challenges of housebreaking, training, and new expenses. Even if you are realistic that your "eight-pound wonder" will top out at 60 pounds, you wonder how many chewed shoes you will contribute to the growing process. When the puppy needs to be trained, if you don't have the time, patience, or expertise, the pup might be neglected, or be out of control.  Either scenario creates more anxiety for the puppy and you. If you have selected a pet of the size and temperament to fit your circumstances (and your finances), you will be a happy dog owner through the various stages. 
Starting a new business can be like dog ownership. You get all starry-eyed and enthusiastic, and know you'll love that dog - or that business - forever. And know what? Just like with puppies who grow up to be big dogs, a new business can be far moredemanding  than you anticipate. Big dogs can eat a lot, can be unruly, need managing, can get sick so you have vet costs (or overhead), and take far more time that you thought when you first became enamored with the idea of adding a new little bundle of joy to your family, or being your own boss.     
Now, let's look at a new business. A new business is exciting. You can finally do what you want.  Maybe you want to make more money, you're tired of being "bossed around," or you think you'll have more time with your family. In time, this may be true, but you may not see the returns of the time required, the money invested, or the freedom given up in the short run.
To make it work, you have to ask yourself some serious questions, and do some serious planning.  You must investigate your product or service, and have a market plan already developed. Though you may start a business in reaction to something else, (i.e., you got laid off, you saw a good opportunity, you wanted a change) you need to have sufficient capital for the business and sufficient personal reserves.
Here are the facts: the latest statistics from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that "two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, and 44% survive at least four years." Brian Head, Economist with the SBA Office of Advocacy, noted that the latest statistics are a much more accurate assessment of new business success rates, and that "as a general rule of thumb, new employer businesses have a 50/50 chance of surviving for five years or more." Lack of capital is a major reason for failure.
Aside from capital, personal reserves and attitudes are important, too. You should be in good health, and able to manage stress. You must have a positive attitude, drive, and determination. You are a person who views failures as steps through a learning process. You stay focused on the "Big Picture" when others can't. You must love people, if dealing with others is an important component of your business. 

As you plan your business, you may visualize its eventual size and profitability. You cannot really see the outcome, but you must plan for growth, and how you will handle it. You may start a business in your home that involves your spouse doing the books, or handling an aspect like marketing. The dynamics change when you move into an outside office, hire staff, and strive to move your operation to the next level.Growing pains can be fatal, if you haven't planned for the future.

Along the way, you may need some help seeing the dog, not just the puppy as you try to make your vision a reality.  You may also need staffing.  Here's where Best Agent Business can help you. We can help keep you focused, as well as offer a trained and competent labor force.  Want some free business tips?  Schedule a call with Steve Kantor to learn how our experienced virtual assistants can benefit you. Interested in a part-time career with us? Visit our employment website for more information.




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Comment balloon 6 commentsSteve Kantor • July 29 2010 04:57PM
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