Fun tidbit: Friday, June 22 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Goofy, sure—but dogs can be constructive influences on our personal lives, and they can teach us a lot about how to be better, happier entrepreneurs. Here are just a few things humans can really learn from them when starting up a business:
1. Dogs are good listeners. Unless you have one of those dogs that won't stop barking, your pup is most likely more than willing to listen to you ramble on for hours. How patient are you when it comes to listening to customers and employees? Perhaps your dog will inspire you to do better. Step back and make sure you have an efficient feedback mechanism worked into how you manage your staff and how you relate to your patrons. Remember, you can listen to comments from others without having to act on every single thing that has been said.
2. Dogs are loyal for a lifetime. All your dog wants to do is to be by your side (and maybe dig holes and play fetch, too). Any attention you lavish upon him is accepted eagerly. Your business also thrives on your attention. Oftentimes entrepreneurship can feel like a roller coaster—the kind that leaves you hanging mid-air, holding on to the sides for dear life. Of course you have to be savvy enough to "know when to fold 'em," if need be. But, if you truly believe in an idea, take a lesson from Fido and stand by it. And as for your sweet pup, by all means, use his loyalty to your advantage. Rehearse presentations in front of him, verbalize ideas, and state your plans to your biggest supporters. Obviously, the dog can't provide much feedback, but he is there to send you positivity. It's very important to discuss ideas with your support system.
3. Dogs are inherently curious. Dogs like to sniff other people and animals. Are you curious about the world around you? Are you comfortable speaking with strangers? Do you keep your head down when you walk alongside other people on the street or are you the one with the big toothy smile? Oprah has said that, "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Opportunities are literally everywhere; you just need to be ready for them. Stay up-to-date on what's new in your industry by attending professional events, meeting new people, and being open to advice and collaborations.
4. Dogs are naturally happy. If you aren't happy, take a step back and re-evaluate your entrepreneurial game plan. Of course there will be bumps along the road—it takes a few lows to get to those highs. But ask yourself: When you zoom out on the big picture, are you happy? One great thing about dogs is that, unless abused or neglected, they are generally in a happy state. Their default mode is happy. What's your default mode? Happy business owners are better business owners, because they're charged and ready for whatever the day throws at them. So whether that means more trips to the beach or hikes in the mountains, more time with the family, or more time curled up with a good book, make sure you get some happiness in your life. Your bottom line will benefit from it.
Amanda Congdon is a California based on-camera personality, new media pioneer and healthy food entrepreneur. She has produced and hosted many web and mobile TV projects: Amanda Across America, Rocketboom, and Sometimesdaily. Her show, AC on ABC, made Amanda the first video blogger for a major network, ABC News. Amanda's career has been documented in The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, The CBS Evening News, The Washington Post, The LA Times, The Hollywood Reporter, WIRED, People Magazine, Interview Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and on countless blogs. She is currently Co-founder and Director of Operations at Vegan Mario’s™ Organic Kitchen.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.