Why do you do all the hard work you do? Most dog pros we work with aren’t entrepreneurial by nature, and there are many other more lucrative industries. So it’s not the money. The answer seems simple, right? Generally, we’re driven by our love of dogs.
But is that enough? Do you know your mission, and the core “why” behind it? You’ve transformed your love of dogs into your life’s work, but without this clarity, you may not be achieving everything you can for dogs. And here’s another thing: Knowing your mission and core why makes your work easier, too. It makes handling decisions, dilemmas, and challenges easier. It makes it easier to push through difficult or low-energy days. Easier to gather the courage to take on scary or intimidating tasks. Easier to find the energy to tackle unpleasant ones.
In short, articulating and acting from your mission and core “why” can take the work you do for dogs to a new level, and make your work days more enjoyable, too.
Identifying your mission
Your mission is about what you seek to accomplish for clients, and the specific services you provide to do so.
At dogbiz, our mission is to help R+ dog trainers, dog walkers, and the like succeed in their businesses. We want to see you thrive—to make a good living doing what you love, to do it for a long time, and to love it. We do that through business coaching, tools like our business toolkits and curriculum packages, our dogbiz University online business school program, the Dog Walking Academy, etc.
What about you? Drill down deeper than simply to train dogs or to walk them or to provide dog daycare. For example, trainers, your mission might be to improve the bond between dogs and their people. You might do that by helping clients understand the fear that drives their dogs’ reactive or aggressive behavior, or by providing day training to create faster behavioral change in dogs, or by offering puppy classes aimed at getting people and dogs off to a good start together.
Dog walkers, your mission might be to make clients’ lives easier by taking an item off their to-do lists and tiring out their dogs. You do that perhaps through carefully orchestrated group walks. Or maybe your mission is to bring peace of mind to clients with leash reactive dogs by providing one-on-one walks in low density areas.
Identifying your core “why”
What drives your mission? Why did you choose to offer the services you do?
Some part of this answer is probably personal interest—a fascination with canine behavior, or a love of being outdoors, for example. Here at dogbiz we enjoy teaching and mentoring. So a job that involves writing, developing presentations and products, public speaking, creating courses, and coaching makes sense. And these activities all support our mission of helping dog pros succeed in their business. We love helping you pursue a living doing what you love. And doing so feeds our ultimate why: We love knowing that when we help you, you help more dogs’ lives through the R+ you spread.
Maybe you’re a dog trainer who started your training journey after adopting a dog with severe leash reactivity or separation anxiety. Your need to find a solution led you down the path from dog lover to professional dog trainer. Now you’re driven to share what you learned, and the relief it brought, with others. Or maybe you share our core why around the spread of positive reinforcement as a way to make dogs’ lives better. Maybe you even see it in a bigger framework of improving the world overall by teaching R+. Maybe you want to make dogs’ quality of life better in your community by providing daily exercise and companionship.
Keeping an eye on your why
Whatever your why, it’s easy in the crazy busy of a typical day, week, month to lose sight of it. There’s the press of things to do, the stress of the unexpected, the frustration of disappointments or setbacks, the running from item to item on the schedule. Pretty soon we’re stuck in a rut of reaction, of doing without time for thinking. We get tired, we lose sight of the big picture, and burnout is rarely far behind.
The antidote is staying in touch with your core why. It can provide a source of renewed motivation and energy to get you through bad days, challenging tasks, or discouraging setbacks, whether dog, client, or business-related.
Finding it hard to get going on a project? Start by reminding yourself why you do what you do, and who you do it for. Ask yourself: Who will this project serve? How will it help you fulfill your mission? Further your core why? When you’re struggling to get through a busy day, remind yourself why you do what you do, and how important and meaningful that work is.
If you regularly struggle with motivation, or find yourself frazzled or battling negative thoughts, consider starting each work day with a few minutes dedicated to reconnecting with your why. Such an exercise can be a great way to help jump into each day with purpose and energy.
Acting from your why
Many dog pros we work with find themselves overwhelmed by how much is on their plate, or how many balls they’ve got in the air. Building a business is demanding, and so is running a successful one. Add to this that most R+ dog pros find it hard to say no, which means the tasks and responsibilities continue to pile on. Acting from your core why can help.
When you’re faced with a decision and considering your options, ask yourself if your choice supports your why. At some point we’re all forced to acknowledge that there are only so many hours in a day and days in the week. The question is, when you realize something has to give, how do you decide? When an opportunity arises, how do you choose whether to pursue it? When someone asks you to do something, how do you know if the answer should be yes or no?
The answer is your core why. Seek answers by looking through the lens of your why. Ask yourself questions like:
- How does each item on my to-do list, each task or appointment in my schedule, serve my mission and my why?
- Which ones propel my mission forward more forcefully?
- Does the opportunity that’s arisen directly serve my mission and why? Is it a better opportunity to do so than something else I’m already doing?
- Will saying yes increase my ability to serve my mission and why, or slow me down?
The takeaway: When you cannot do it all, put your time and energy where it can do the greatest good.
We use these questions and exercises regularly. Our mission and why are at the heart of the decisions we make about which projects to pursue, how to spend our time, and which opportunities we say yes or no to. And our commitment to making dogs’ lives better by serving you—the amazing dog pros on the front lines teaching and practicing positive reinforcement and improving dogs’ lives—drives the energy and joy we bring to every day on the job.
As dog pros running small businesses, using your why to assess big and small decisions about how to use your time and where to put your energy allows you to make the most of that time and energy. That means building a more successful business, which in turn means more opportunity to serve your mission and achieve your why.