As a R+ dog pro, you know all about working the 3 D’s with dogs—that’d be distance, duration, and distraction, of course. But what about the 3 S’s in your business?
We want to see you running a dog business that is financially Successful, without those stomach-dropping slow months. We want to see you doing that while enjoying plenty of downtime for yourself and your own dogs (including regular weekends and even vacations!), because only then is your success truly Sustainable. And we want to see you standing at the helm of a business that is Stress-free because you feel confident in all aspects of your work—even the marketing and pricing and sales bits.
If this sounds like something you want, too, here are four guiding principles that will help you master the 3 S’s!
Principle #1: Less Is MORE
Less is more can be a challenging concept to embrace, but it is both freeing and critical to success for you, your business, and the clients and dogs you serve. Less is more is ultimately about setting everyone up for success. Once you give in to this concept you’ll see endless opportunities to apply it but to get you started, here are a few:
Stop trying to serve everyone. Instead, focus on serving the exact right clients for you. Imagine working only with clients you love, never again losing sleep or energy or peace of mind to those who wear you down, bring you down, or who just don’t fit. Identifying your ideal client avatar and then building your marketing, services, and onboarding processes to attract them will increase the success of your business as well as your long-term enjoyment of it.
Stop trying to do everything. Our attempts to serve everyone often lead to trying to do too much. Our service offerings become overly complex and the number of choices on offer become overwhelming enough to actually lose business. If this is you, look at simplifying your services based on the needs of your ideal clients and your professional understanding of what is best for the dogs—and also what works for you. Confidently standing behind services you’ve crafted based on these parameters will mean better results for you and the dogs.
Here’s one exception to the less is more rule: Trainers, when it comes to training packages, bigger is almost always better. Dogs and their people will always benefit from more time with you, and your business and your personal sense of satisfaction will benefit, too. Selling less training than is necessary to create the best chance of helping clients reach their training goals is a disservice to the client and the dog, not to mention your business and peace of mind.
That said, when you get to work inside those larger packages, less is more still applies—it’s always better to train fewer things to greater proficiency!
Principle #2: You Cannot Do ALL THE THINGS
If you often feel like the proverbial hamster on the wheel, or like you’re stuck in an ongoing juggling act, or perhaps like you’re drinking from a firehose, then this principle is for you. When running a business alongside everyday life it’s easy to end up with a schedule that is literally impossible to keep. We never feel on top of things because there are simply too many things.
Creating a truly sustainable success—one that includes comfortable work / life balance—requires turning in our busy badges for a focus on top goals and priorities. When we don’t prioritize what’s most important to us, both in our businesses and our personal lives, it’s often those things that matter most that get the short shrift. We work hard only to feel like we haven’t gotten anything done. Those important work projects (like marketing, for example!) get endlessly pushed off. Time for the things we love most (like family or our own dogs) gets lost. We tell ourselves stories like it’s not possible to take a vacation, and these stories become embedded in our industry belief system.
But when we give ourselves permission to stop trying to do all the things in favor of focusing on the things that matter most, we find there really is enough time. Using tools that protect our goals and priorities, like a master schedule, the 3 D’s (do it, delegate it, or drop it!), and the word “No” help build a truly sustainable success.
And if that word “No” gives you the willies, consider this: Every time you say “No” to something you are saying “Yes” to something else. The reverse is also true. Next time you’re considering saying “Yes” ask yourself first: What will I have to say “No” to in order to carry out this “Yes”? Which is most important?
Principle #3: DONE is Better Than Perfect
We are an industry of caregivers. As such, we are easy prey for imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and plain old fear—fear of failure, of criticism and judgement, of rejection. These struggles (along with a lack of clear industry standards for guidance) keep us from moving forward and reaching our full potential. They make it hard to confidently market and sell our services. They keep us from pursuing innovative ideas and launching new services.
This is a shame. There are so many dogs and dog lovers out there who need us—who need our knowledge, skill, compassion, and caring. If you find yourself holding back, waiting until you’ve got something just perfect (your website, your puppy program, your walking service, another five years of experience under your belt), we encourage you to take a deep breath and PUT IT OUT THERE. No matter how much time, energy, or detail you pour into something, there will always be improvements to make. How many dogs are going without your positive impact while you struggle toward perfection?
The point is to serve. If you can make a positive difference now, do it. You can continue to perfect your business and services as you serve.
Principle #4: We Are Better TOGETHER
This is the most important principle of them all because it makes all the rest more doable. For too long we’ve been an industry of reluctant loners, each isolated and struggling alone. What we’ve found among our THRIVE! members and Dog Walking Academy grads is that coming together as colleagues instead of seeing one another as competitors leads to more successful, sustainable, and stress-free businesses for all.
It’s simply easier to apply the principles of less is more, you cannot do all the things, and done is better than perfect when you have a community of like-minded R+ dog pros egging each other on, sharing great ideas, inspiring one another, supporting positive choices, and celebrating each step along the way. Together we are smarter, bolder, more creative, more engaged, and more confident. Together we are quicker to master the 3S’s to enjoy financial success, sustainable work and life balance, and the confidence and skills to run a stress-free business.
Could you use support mastering the 3 S’s and putting these four principles into play for yourself? If you’re a R+ trainer we invite you to join our THRIVE! waitlist to be the first in line next time we open to new members. If you’re a dog walker, you’re invited to join our exclusive group of professional dog walkers by enrolling in the Dog Walking Academy.