What Do Raising Puppies and Starting a Small Business Have in Common?

by Mary Ann Larson on February 16, 2012


Vizsla Puppies and Small Business Ventures

When my dog Madeline Von Maddie Mats (aka Maddie), a Hungarian Vizsla, passed away a few years ago at the age of 11, our family was devastated. After all, who would ever be so loyal, loving, and forceful in getting us to exercise?

That’s right. Who was going to push us to put on those sneakers every morning and evening, regardless of the weather, so that we’d keep her happy? And who’d reward us by following us around all day and falling asleep on top of us each night—all 70 pounds of her?

What we didn’t know when we first got Maddie was that Vizslas are one of the most active breeds in existence. They need a minimum of two hours of hard exercise every day. They are also known as “Velcro dogs”—dogs that are so loyal to their owners they want to “stick” by their sides around the clock.

At the outset of our canine parenting, what we knew was that I wanted a shorthaired dog, my husband wanted a large breed, and the pictures of the Vizsla puppies on LoveVizsla.com were cute. It wasn’t until the disemboweling of our couch and the damage to several sheets of drywall that we realized we had a marathoner on our hands. Out of desperation, we adapted . . . and over the next 10 years we learned to love what we had.

Now that we’re thinking about adding a new dog to our family, it’s made me consider another area of life where due diligence pays off in spades later on.

So . . . what can we learn from our puppy raising that applies to starting a new business? Let’s look at a few of the lessons:

• Beware beauty. The latest and greatest trend, the expensive office park, or the too-good-to-be-true success stories might not provide the staying power needed to make your business a long-term venture. Oftentimes, it’s the handsomest dog that wreaks the greatest havoc . . . which is why he’s so cute. So, take the time to . . .

• Know yourself. Whether you’re considering a puppy or a business, you should ask yourself some questions before you launch your new venture or bring your new best friend home. You should ask, “Is it compatible with my lifestyle? What do I want out of this relationship? A {running} partner or a couch potato, a sidekick or an independent thinker?” Ask yourself, “Am I passionate about this?” Passion matters here, because over time, for better or worse, you’ll have to live with your choices.

How about, “Is this new venture more of a hobby or a business?” If you’re a dabbler, you aren’t ready to start your own business or get that puppy. It’s worth taking the time to do careful research. Once you do, you’ll likely find that it will take more time, emotion, and money than you’ve planned for. And finally, be willing to set limits on what you’ll tolerate.

• Sow loyalty. As in other areas of our lives, we reap what we sow. Being honest and open with your customers and giving them a product or service that is genuinely good and comes at a fair price produces repeat business, or loyalty. In much the same way, a puppy—and then as an older dog—will reward your consistency and kindness with love, protection, and companionship.

• Realize that it’s not forever, and embrace it. Dog and business ownership do have a lot in common. They take the investment of resources (such as money, time, and spirit), they have the potential to break your heart, and they don’t last forever. But with the right consideration and dedication, you’ll reap the rewards of a lifetime.

Image courtesy of LoveVizsla.com.

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    • http://www.webpartnergroup.com/ Web Marketing

      Interesting post. Nice analogy between puppies and small businesses LOL

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    • http://www.clickandinc.com/blog Sarah Kolb

      What an appropriate analogy — business ownership isn’t for everybody, nor is dog ownership. Only the individual can decide if getting up in the middle of the night for emergencies, needing to constantly provide care, and having to work extra hard to get away for a few days is really what he or she wants.

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    • http://businessrebirth.blogspot.com Shallie Bey

      Congratulations on the brilliant analogy comparing owning a dog to owning a business. You make it clear that you must accept the entire package. Unfortunately, we often fail to do the research to know what is in the package.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you all for the feedback. Hoping that those that are considering starting a business might be able to relate to the analogy so that they don’t make the mistake of – pardon the pun – “biting off more than they can chew.”