My people were amused at first when I told them I was going to write a blog post giving advice to entrepreneurs. The idea of Cardigan Welsh Corgi, albeit a very good looking and clever Cardigan Welsh Corgi, giving advice to business people tickled them quite a lot. They then thought about it some more and took a very uncooperative view of my idea.
“Rusty, you can’t tell business people that they should sniff each other’s butts!”, they said in that alarmed pitch they use to offer each other valuable but unwanted criticism. With that my 8 tips for business people became 7 tips.
“It is hardly a good idea to tell them that if they hear an unusual noise they should bark like hell!” Again this was said that voice that was several pitches too high and my 7 tips became 6.
At the point I decided to end the consultation exercise and just start working on advice which a dog like me can offer to business people like you. I hope find it more valuable than my people thought you would.
# 1 – Love who you are
You may be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. If so, that is great, stop reading this and hurry up and change the world. However you may not be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and you may want to be. Well you are not them. Dogs do not spend their time thinking wouldn’t it be great to be one of the corgis living in Buckingham Palace or the Governor’s mansion in California. Well maybe occasionally we do, but most of the time we know exactly who we are and really like being that dog.
Look in the mirror and focus on the person in front of you. This is you and you are important and creative. Look at your company and what it actually does. You should love who you are and who your company is, always wanting to improve and trying to achieve more but never becoming totally unrealistic. You can imagine what it is like to have an IPO like Netscape or Facebook but you should spend far time thinking about what you and your company is going to. You should be pleased with what you are doing. You should love who you are and what you do.
# 2 – Love the hand that feeds
This is one of the big doggie things. You just have to come home after a hard day at work and the greeting you will get from your dog shows how much they love you. Among other things you are the hand that feeds and dogs love the hand that feeds. For a business, customer are the hand that feeds. You may not always agree with your customers, sometime you may not even like them and other times you might feel that they have to be “educated” so that they appreciate what you are offering. However, you should always love them. You should want to improve their lives, want to make them better users of your products, want to improve what you sell so that they get a better deal. It is a very healthy state if the head of a business is slightly obsessive about their customers and how their company can make things better for their customers.
# 3 – Defend your territory
There are rules which every dog knows and every dog follows. Another dog cannot just walk into your territory without being challenged. If two dogs meet on a neutral ground there is no issue. A dog instinctively know whether territory should be defended or whether there is no threat. Business should know this too. A customer of yours may be asking a lot of questions to improve their business. This is fine. However, they may be asking questions so that they can launch a competing product. This is not fine. You need to develop dog-like instinct to know when to cooperate and when to defend. These days defending your territory can be pretty hard for a business. It is an unfortunate fact of life that if you bark your head off your competitor will not go away with its tail between its legs. You need to develop smart ways to defend your territory. If your competitor has made a mistake, take advantage of it. They will do the same so be careful about giving ammunition to the enemy.
# 4 – Sniff everything first
Dogs understand the need to act fast if an opportunity arises. If the people are eating at the table and something accidently drops most dogs will clear this off the floor very quickly. However, there are also times when a dog decides too fast to eat something and gets into problems. My advice to dogs is always to sniff first. My advice to humans is the same. Act quickly and decisively but always sniff first so you know there is every probability you are making the right decision. If you spend too long thinking your competitor will get there first. You need to sniff first and not commission PhD research.
# 5 – Know when to stop chasing your tail
Rushing round in circles chasing your tail is actually quite enjoyable. Most dogs know this. However, if anyone sees you doing it they think you’re crazy and it achieves absolutely nothing. Humans also do a lot of chasing their own tails in business. They see an idea, run after it, forget about it for a bit, get the same idea again and run after it again. There are many thing we would love to be able to do but cant. A dog would love to be able to catch its own tail and can chase it for hours. Business too can have some goal they are not going to achieve and it would be far better to stop. There is a time to stop chasing your own tail. That time is as soon as you realize you are doing it.
# 6 – Understand the pack
The pack is the natural group for a dog. Even with a small number of dogs, each dog knows its place in the hierarchy. Dogs also see their families as a pack and like to know the hierarchy. They also do not like so much change in the pack. Many companies are very similar to a pack. If you are the CEO of a business you are similar to a pack leader. Some people think the leader in a wolf or dog pack is just the toughest. This is not true. They also have to look out for the rest of the pack. They have to lead. If you are the CEO of your company. You have to understand your company, your pack. You have to look after your pack and you have to lead it.