I’ve had my dog boutique open now for about 4.5 years and I’m still trying to find the proper balance between working there every waking hour and turning daily operations over to a staff so that I can focus on ordering, finding new products, event planning, etc. While I love the very capable people who work for me (including my hubby), there is something in my genetic makeup that tugs at me whenever I’m not at the shop. Even though I try not to when I review numbers for the week, I always think to myself, "How much more business could we have done if I were working that day?” I really don’t know the answer to this hypothetical question. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I guess it really is necessary for survival to have that kind of mindset.
However, there can certainly be drawbacks to being at the shop, on the sales floor, all of the time. While some are obvious (e.g., fatigue, burn-out, poor work/life balance), others are subtler. When you have such a large vested interest in the success of the business, you can sometimes be overly sensitive to comments that would otherwise be benign. Here are some questions I’ve been directly asked or comments I’ve overheard while working: (1) "Can you really make a living doing this?” (2) "I think its torture putting dogs in clothes,” (3) "My dog would be so embarrassed in this,” (4) "They’re just dogs. Why do they need to be fed gourmet treats?” I try to bite my lip and just nod and smile, but sometimes it’s just too much to handle and I fire back with a clever comeback or equally insensitive question. When you’ve put so much effort and energy into building something from nothing, you really take these things to heart much more so than a typical staff member would.
On the other hand, no one knows the products in my boutique better than me. Yes, I can (and have) trained staff to be knowledgeable about them. They all know the ingredients of the doggie donuts, the right style and size for a plump Pug, the most durable chew toy for a destructive Pit Bull. However, you can’t train PASSION for the business. You can’t train that DESIRE to crush last year’s numbers. You can’t train what it feels like to own the business. You just can’t. I guess there it is then, that double-edged sword.
Hate to cut this short but I think I just heard some interesting comments from the sales floor about the new doggie bikinis—gotta go back to work.
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