5 Things Dogs Can Teach Us About Business

I have a confession to make: I don’t think I could run my business without the help of my dog. She gets me out of bed and into the sunlight every morning. She makes sure I take breaks by carrying her toys up to my desk. While she accepts equity in belly rubs and kibble, she is in so many ways the silent partner in keeping me balanced, and therefore, successful in running my own business. 

I know I'm not the only one, and to get more of a sense of how our four-legged friends influence our lives in and out of the office, I turned to the best experts I could find: folks who not only love dogs but have turned their passion for pups into thriving and successful businesses! 

They are: 

  • Eva Lotta Armstrong owns Eva's Play Pups, a doggie daycare facility and pet care service provider, along with the deluxe Country Camp for dogs in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. 
  • Sara Alize Cross founded Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, a volunteer-run 501(c)3 to pull adoptable dogs from high kill shelters in the rural South and place them in loving New York City homes. 
  • Hanna Mandelbaum is the co-founder of Evermore Pet Foods, an ultra-wholesome and nutritious food for dogs. 
  • David Gever is the co-owner of David and Rachel Pet Care, a boarding and walking service in Brooklyn. 

And I'd love to hear from you too! Just take a pic of your canine co-founder, post it to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #dogismycofounder and your story might be featured in a future article! 

Without further ado, Entrepreneurs goes to the dogs with these important bit of advice: 

Be Loyal

Nahla the Ridgeback
Make new friends, but keep the old, says Nahla the Ridgeback. Nahla the Ridgeback

Dogs are a great reminder of how important loyalty is in business. While most entrepreneurs are hungry for new business and revenue, David Gever of David and Rachel Pet Care doesn't mind the extra work that goes along with instilling loyalty in long-term clients: "I think for us it's about building relationships with our clients that go beyond just work. You also have to have a long term vision for what you want to accomplish, occasionally going beyond your normal duties will pay off in the long run.”

Learn to develop stronger relationships with your customers -- and keep them coming back. 

Do What You Love

About swimming, these dogs mean business. Photo courtesy of Eva's Play Pups

Why do we love dogs so much? Well, it's likely because they love us, and tennis balls, and sunshine, and well, pretty much everything. Dogs just radiate positivity, and in that, offer great lessons for entrepreneurs. 

In the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, Eva Armstrong has created a doggie paradise for her boarding clients replete with large open fields, a pond for swimming and plenty of sunny napping spots.

But to Armstrong, the joyful nature of the dogs she works with is consistent with her own approach to business. "I am outside in nature all day long with packs of dogs, I feel healthy and happy, I learn new things about dogs and pack dynamics every day," she reports. "I feel this job will never become stale and boring.”

Run with a Strong "Pack"

Sharing is Caring
Sharing is caring for these kissable pups. Adam Smith/Badass Brooklyn Foster Dog

Dogs are, of course, pack animals, and we can learn a lot from their interdependent social dynamics. For Sara Cross, it's all about trust. "I think it is more important to find people you trust and who are smart than it is to find people with exact previous experience doing specific tasks," she says of building a self-sustaining volunteer organization with Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue that has placed over 1300 dogs to date. 

Do you want to upgrade your "pack"? Learn how to create a strong business support network. 

Sniff Out Hidden Opportunities

Dogs and business
Could this dog know more about your business than you do?. Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

Dogs are well-known to be opportunists, doggedly pursuing an elusive squirrel or begging for treats. Hanna Mandelbaum of Evermore Pet Foods relates to this approach: "Sniff out and seize opportunities when they arise.  Running a business is tough, but sometimes the universe throws you an unexpected bone, often literally if you are a dog patrolling the sidewalk."

Live in the Moment

Hilary Benas

Dogs are experts at taking things as they come -- a worthy reminder that in business, it pays to be flexible and responsive. After all, you never know when your business with get an unexpected boost via the press or social media. 

Cross learned this lesson when a photo taken by Hilary Benas at one of their events went “viral” on the Internet. Benas' captured an exuberant image of Eva (also a Badass volunteer) being reunited with Cappy, a dog she had helped rescue. 

"Within a few hours, after it had hit over 100k views, we started getting emails from all of these news sites,” explains Cross of the photo, which perfectly encapsulated the mission of the organization. "It was actually kind of a lesson for me in how online press works."

Be ready when opportunity knocks -- understand marketing in real time.