Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Canine Business Sense?

I was watching our little rugrats last evening just kind of musing, not really doing anything. And like those of us who are bit obsessed tend to do, I realized that our two rescue pups have really common, normal business behaviors that a lot of practioners, new business owners, and even established business people do to.

Pete, our newest family member is a stupid-cute, red cartoon of a dog. He’s just so inherently cute it’s hard to be annoyed with him for very long despite his ability to be completely annoying. He licks the floor for hours. He believes that the only good companionship is intimate: being right up in your face. And he feels the ONLY way to handle conflict, confusion or something new is aggression. The best way for his fourteen pounds to handle anything is to Bark Louder! Growl Longer! Attack—right for the throat each and every time.

Now, I want you to understand that we get Pete and his issues. We knew that a rescue dog can come with special challenges. Pete lived in the woods and on the streets for about 3 years (no one knows his exact age). I can’t imagine how hard a dog of less than 15 pounds had to fight and hustle to survive in the world alone. He was so skinny when first adopted that literally every bony point on his body was felt through his skin. This little guy is tough. At the same time he LOVES people. He’ll lick and cuddle and talk to you for ever. Receiving attention is his all-time favorite thing. We understand that undoing those early food and aggression habits is a long-term, tiny-success proposition. And we love him with all his faults, just like he loves us with all of our faults.

Then, there’s Trina. This gal is one smart, deceptive, strong-willed dog. Trina can look like a little white angel. And catch you out every time! Trina is the sneaky one. Why meet something head-on when you can express your snarkiness in ways that sneak up on people? Of course it’s never her fault that things went wrong, I was just…and so on. This powerful chick on four legs, weighing about 12 pounds will literally stare you down when she isn’t getting exactly what she wants. And in dog language that is definitely a demand! She easily takes up the entire couch. In fact, I’ve literally seen her watch her “brother” jump onto the sofa and leap in his way so she’s already in his spot when he lands. Trina is an opinionated lady.

She also has a behavioral challenge that would make being in business tough: she only knows a couple ways to express those opinions. Some of those methods are completely not welcome by others in her household. She resents our unhappiness with her methods. She definitely isn’t given to compromise, and she doesn’t exhibit much motivation to make other choices.

Trina is, on other occasions, a real joy to have around. She’s friendly to anyone and any animal that comes around. She puts up with Pete’s aggression with amazing tolerance. And she sooo loves to have her family come home I wonder if one day she’ll shake and jump herself to bits in her joy.

What’s the point you might ask? The point is that you, me, others—we’ve all learned patterns that we carry over into business. Not every challenge is ready to be met with aggressive action or secretive tactics. A mature business (one that makes money, grows with demands, meets client needs, AND includes time off for you!) has a mature person over-seeing it. Maturity in this case translates into a range of responses, strategies and tactics. If there’s a common mistake I see in business less than 2 years old, and many even older, it’s always using the same approach.

In my experience, this is kind of the “Mobster Model”—no matter how a guy screws up he looses a body part or maybe his life. Sound like a tough model? That’s intentional. Closing a business, loosing out on business success is JUST like giving up part of yourself. Don’t believe me? Ask someone who’s been there. So, you can learn from Pete and Trina: those patterns you learned before just might not be the best thing for you and your business now. Slow down enough to check it out. Invest in yourself to clean out some of those old patterns and take the time to learn some new ones.

Wishing you Success and Heart,

Heidi Sue

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