What Puppies and Small Businesses Have in Common | Priority Pursuit Podcast
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If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know about the puppy saga that’s been going on at our house. But, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll fill you in. 

A couple weeks ago, I was walking Hattie like I do every morning. However this particular walk threw us for an unexpected loop, because when Hattie and I got back to our block, I found a tiny, black puppy frolicing on the sidewalk and trying to eat a dandelion. 

With no owners in sight, I scooped him up, gave him a bath, took him to our vet to see if he was chipped (which he wasn’t), and I posted his photo all over social media and lost pet websites in an attempt to find his home. 

I’m still in disbelief that nobody claimed this sweet boy, whom the vet said was no more than 12 weeks old when I found him. But, Zach named the pup “Little Richard,” and we’ve had him for almost two weeks now. 

Little Richard is sitting on my lap as I record this, but before this episode airs, he’ll be in his forever home, which I am both so happy and so sad about. We found the most ideal home for this lab-hound pup, and we know he is going to be well loved. But, you can bet there will be tears when we drop him off with his parents in just a couple days. 

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s great Victoria, but what does a puppy have to do with running a small business?” And, after two weeks of having a pup and an older dog, I can promise you that your business has more in common with dogs than you likely think. 

 

Like it isn’t fair to compare a puppy who is learning to a dog who is well trained, it isn’t fair for you to compare your business to someone else’s that is further along than yours & allow yourself to feel less than. 

Now, I promise that this episode of Priority Pursuit isn’t simply an excuse to talk about my dogs. However, I do love both pups very much. And, Hattie—our goldendoodle—is six, and not to brag, but she’s pretty great. 

I mean, Hattie is boundary trained; we travel with her regularly and easily; she sits sweetly under tables at restaurants; our families beg us to bring her to family get-togethers; and she hasn’t had an accident in at least 35 dog years. 

Hattie is well trained and obedient now, but it’s easy to forget that that hasn’t always been the case. I mean, she did chew off nearly every corner of trim in our last house, and her choice to consistently have accidents in the same spot resulted in me having to get rid of my favorite rug.

That said, with such a well-trained dog already in our family, it’s hard not to get frustrated with Little Richard who—over the past two weeks—has had multiple accidents in our new house, doesn’t sleep through the night unless you hold him, and has bit me in the elbow with his crazy-sharp puppy teeth more than once. 

Little Richard is honestly very sweet, very smart, and is such a good puppy. And, if we could, we would 100% keep him. But, if you’ve ever had a puppy, you understand where I’m coming from. Puppies are a lot. 

When Little Richard does something “bad,” it’s tempting to compare him to Hattie—who has handled gaining a puppy brother much better than I would’ve guessed by the way. But, the fact of the matter is, comparing Little Richard to Hattie isn’t fair. 

After all, Hattie has had years of training, love, and discipline, and Little Richard has only been with us for two weeks. 

And, just like it isn’t fair to compare a 12-week-old pup to a six-year-old dog, it isn’t fair for you to compare your business to someone else’s, especially when the other person has been in business longer than you or their business is “further” along than yours, and allow yourself to feel less than. 

Maybe it’s the fact that social media allows us to see and be exposed to more creative entrepreneurs and businesses than ever before, but I know firsthand that it’s easy to have thoughts like, “She’s so far ahead of me. It isn’t fair,” or, “I’ll never be able to do the things he’s doing. It’s just not in the cards for me.”

And, friend, the next time you have these thoughts, I want you to remember that your business has to be a puppy who pees on the floor before it can be a perfectly behaved service or show dog. 

Because, like a puppy, you and your business need:

  1. Time to grow and learn so you can determine what’s “right” and “wrong.”
  2. Consistent discipline, because neither business growth nor dog training will happen unless you make consistency a priority. 
  3. Empathy and patience, because I can promise you both puppy training and business growth will take longer than you like. In fact, neither are really ever done. 

So, friend, whether your whole business is new and still learning that it isn’t okay to chew the living room pillows or you’ve been in business for a long time and it’s time to “learn a new trick” by adding a new product, service, or strategy to your business, remember that your business has to be a puppy before it can be a dog.  

And, when you notice others thriving, admire their well-trained, dog-like businesses while reminding yourself that those business owners did a whole lot of work to train their puppies well. Rather than getting frustrated or jealous, commend them for what they’ve built. 

 

Like businesses, dogs are trained & raised to serve different purposes. 

The biggest takeaway I’d love for you to have from this episode is to refrain from playing the comparison game, but while we are discussing what small businesses and puppies have in common, I do want to touch on one other thing we can learn from dogs as small business owners. And, that is just like dogs serve different purposes, our businesses serve different purposes. As a result, it’s okay if your business looks different from others. 

For example, dogs can be raised and trained to be hunting dogs, emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, show dogs, and simply companions. Dogs can also be trained to be very obedient, not obedient at all, or somewhere in between. 

As long as a dog is safe, happy, healthy, content, and isn’t harming others, there isn’t a “wrong” way for a dog to be raised or to be, just like there isn’t a “wrong” way to run your business—assuming you’re being honest and following all laws your business is subject to. 

For you, maybe your small business exists to provide well for yourself or your family. Or, maybe you decided to go into business for yourself to give yourself the flexibility needed to put your family first. Whatever the case—and this isn’t to say these are the only two reasons your business could exist—your business should exist to help you lead the life you want.

Need help determining your business & personal priorities? Tune into “Episode 001: Are You PRIORITIZING What’s Most Important in Your Personal Life & Business?”

This point also comes back to comparison, but just like dogs can serve different purposes, your business’s purpose doesn’t have to be the same as any other creative entrepreneur’s business’s purpose. Your business simply needs to serve your priorities—whatever they are—well. 

As you can tell, I’ve pretty much been consumed by Little Richard for the last two weeks, which is why I’m making dog comparisons. But, friend, whether these analogies have helped you or not, please consider this episode of Priority Pursuit a friendly reminder:

  1. To not let comparison make you feel less than. 
  2. That your business doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s to be “successful.”
  3. That all businesses—yours included—has to be a puppy before it can be a dog. 

In the meantime, if you want to see Little Richard and his cute, floppy ears, be sure to follow me on Instagram at @victorialrayburn. By the time this episode airs, there should be an Instagram reel up of all the fun we’ve had with him over the last two weeks. 

Also, a one off episode about puppies might not be the best time to ask for this, but if you’ve been a long-time listener of Priority Pursuit, could I ask you to leave me a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts? Reviews truly do help podcasts grow, and if you’ve benefited from Priority Pursuit, other creative entrepreneurs likely will too. 

Thanks for tuning in and letting me talk about puppies. Hopefully, we can hang out again next week!

 


 

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Victoria Rayburn explains what puppies and small businesses have in common in this episode of “Priority Pursuit.”

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