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4 Things Learned as a Stay-at-Home Mom That Are Invaluable to Running a Business

Using any or all of these skills will help any pet business owner.

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This article originally appeared online on Nov. 7, 2018.

THERE ARE four major skills I learned as a stay-at-home mom that have been invaluable to me as the owner of a pet business.

1. Expect the unexpected.

Having four children taught me that every day is different. Some days went smoothly, and I was able to adhere to whatever plan I had set for the day. Other days — actually most days — nothing went according to what I had planned. Toddlers would decide to use permanent markers to “decorate” themselves, and a sibling. A preschooler would have a setback in their potty training. A 6-year-old would suddenly decide that he absolutely hated peanut butter. Which leads to my second invaluable skill:

2. Learn to be calm in the midst of chaos.

When it seemed like everything around me was in total disarray, I learned to take a breath or step away and take a break. If I didn’t, I easily added to the craziness and just made everything worse. If I remained calm, at least on the exterior, then it helped everyone else in my family to calm down as well.

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3. Build individual relationships.

At some point, just about every parent with multiple children has been asked. “Which child do you love the most?” My truth is that I love all my children equally but in different ways. I learned to see what made each one of them unique and did my best to meet their individual needs, develop their distinct strengths as well as celebrate their special triumphs.

4. Forgive myself for those “bad mommy” moments.

I loved being a stay-at-home mom. I read books on parenting and had older moms as mentors. I was diligent in my duties, knowing that these young lives depended on me for their safety and well-being. Nevertheless, there were a few times that I completely dropped the ball. The incident that sticks out in my mind was the time I forgot to strap my 2-year-old into his stroller. The traffic light was about to change and I was trying to hurry across the street. As we stepped off the curb, I tilted the stroller and my son went sprawling out of his seat onto the asphalt. Aside from a scraped chin, he was fine, but it took me a while to forgive myself for the oversight that could have cost him his life.

Using any or all of these skills will help any pet business owner. Be aware that things won’t always go according to plans. A/C units will stop working during a heat wave, employees will quit during a very busy season, or a dog will decide your most expensive display is the one they want to mark. Staying calm helps you figure out how to solve a problem rather than perpetuate it.

Instead of seeing your customers as numbers, learn to relate to them as individuals. Find a way to connect with them. In the pet business, that can be an easy task: Just ask about their four-legged friend! People do business with people they like, and you become more likeable when you take genuine interest in their lives.

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Finally, learn to forgive yourself when you make a mistake. While some mistakes are easily correctable, some can have a very negative impact on you, your business or your community. Regardless of the magnitude of the error, forgive yourself and be willing to ask forgiveness of others when your mistake affects them. Figure out what you need to do to avoid repeating the mistake, then move on and continue to grow your business.

Wendy Megyese owns Muttigans, a pet boutique and coffee bar, in Emerald Isle, NC. Contact her at wmegyese@gmail.com

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Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Shawna Schuh

True Leaders Learn the Skills of Telling, Selling and Asking

Beware the overshare.

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IN AN INTERVIEW FOR a new team member, we sat down and began some preliminary chit-chat.

Admittedly, I am a curious sort; I ask more questions than most. It’s my job, after all, as a leadership coach, so when I began by asking, “Tell me a little about yourself.” I did not expect to hear what I did: The interviewee went on to share and to overshare. We found out about her marriage history, abuse, blended families, a home lost by the recession and what was wrong with her last employer.

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She was talking too much for us to ask additional questions.

According to her resume, she had the skills we needed, but we decided we wouldn’t hire her because of her oversharing habit.

Oversharing lost her the job. Over-sharing can lose you customers, too.

What is a leader to do? Well, first, be sure you aren’t the one who overshares.

My coaching clients learn early that most leaders do three things often.

1. They tell. Usually, leaders are telling their team how to do things, what the vision is, how to handle customers. Leaders tell and tell and tell. They do this because they are the ones in the know. They are making the decisions, and to be good communicators, they tell their teams.

2. They sell. This is one most leaders don’t realize they are doing, but they do it all the time. After all, you want your team bought into your vision, and you want people to get excited. Leaders are the most knowledgeable about the product or business, and most started by selling so they sell.

When you are telling and selling, sometimes you forget and overshare. Leaders get zealous about things and sometimes that leads to oversharing.
What can you do to stop yourself from the overshare? What would have helped the interviewee land the job?

3. They ask. Leaders learn to be expert askers. When you ask questions, many wonderful things happen: The people you ask questions feel valued — like their opinion matters. You learn something. And you allow others to talk, which means you aren’t talking or oversharing.

To become an expert asker, all you need do is, of course, ask questions. This is a simple concept like dieting, and, like dieting, usually not easy.

Here are two questions most any leader or anyone will benefit from asking:

What is it you want?

This question helps the other person define their goals. For customers, it helps you help them. Note: Be prepared for some silence, a lot of people really don’t know what they want. If they are quiet, simply smile and ask them something else like, “What makes you happiest?”

What can I do for you?

This question gets to the core of need. It also shows them that you are focused on them. That’s the beauty of questions: They are outward focused, and when you are outward focused, it helps you be the kind of leader, teammate, partner, a parent that others want to be around.

If nothing else, please think before you overshare!

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Candace D'Agnolo

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Ensure Perfect Vision for Your Pet Business

Because authenticity counts.

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IT’S THE BEGINNING of a new year, so you’ve probably been bombarded with media and people talking about your vision and goals. Especially since it’s “2020.” Get it? 20/20. Perfect vision?

I’m not sure that in business a vision can be “perfect” because we never know what roadblocks lay ahead and what pivots we will make. But having a clear vision will motivate your team, inspire you and your customers, and help you make decisions as you scale your business. I’m here to tell you that finding your authenticity is critical to your vision being a success.

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Dictionary.com defines the word “authentic” as:

  • Not false or copied; genuine; real
  • Having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified
  • Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified

Authenticity has never been more important than it is in today’s hyper-connected world where your customer’s voice is louder and more influential than ever. You’ve likely experienced that to be true with reviews, customer comments in your store and how they act on social media.

There’s something very special at the core of what you do. While many can carry the same products or offer the same services at similar price points in a similar neighborhood with a look and feel that mirrors yours, no one can effectively copycat an authentic business self.

Answer these questions to ensure you’re interweaving authenticity into your business:

  1. Are you always “real”? And honest with your customers, team and vendors?
  2. What makes your company memorable?
  3. What’s one thing you could change/enhance/feature that would make your company more memorable?
  4. How do you make people feel?
  5. What unique traits/skills/talents do you personally contribute to your company?
  6. Are you consistent in your customers experience?
  7. Are you responsive?
  8. Can you back up why you carry what you do? Or back up why you hire who you do? Or why you run your business the way you do?
  9. What are three key words that would describe who you truly are? Can you incorporate them into your business more?
  10. Have you gotten clear on who you serve? Not every pet owner is your customer!

Customer trust is never bought but earned. Their B.S. meter is strong. The more you can convey your company values and beliefs as well as live all of the questions above, your bigger picture vision for your company will come to life! As Maya Angelou said “People may forget what you said, but they will not forget how you made them feel.” Authenticity will carry your vision a long, long way.

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6 Simple Steps to Getting Great Online Reviews

Don’t overlook this huge opportunity.

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MOST CUSTOMERS CHECK OUT online reviews to see how happy (or ticked off) your customers are and to find out what your product or service is really like before buying. And this spells a huge opportunity. According to Matt Frary writing in Forbes, “Customers spend 31 percent more with a business that has excellent reviews.”
It’s simple: Beyond building a loyal base of these ideal clients, thrilled customers are the folks who can help you attract even more clients to your business and get them to spend more. In its simplest form, this happens through online reviews. But how?

Here are six steps:

1. Create a short customer satisfaction survey. This gives you valuable insight into what your customers liked (or didn’t) about their experience or your products or services. It also helps you understand who’s the happiest about your business and what they’re happy about. Doing this doesn’t have to be hard. Try a 10-question Google Survey.

2. Don’t let your own fear drive your questions. Imposter syndrome is real. Waaaaaaaay too many petpreneurs pre-judge their own offerings, which can shade your survey questions and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, someone may not think anything about your price point … until you ask whether it’s “too expensive.” Suddenly, to them, it is because you’ve suggested it is. Instead of asking about price or other things you may be afraid to hear, focus on basics like the value, quality and overall experience of working with you. Give them space for a one- to five-star rating and an open-comment box to describe why they feel this way. This helps you get their deeper perceptions without coloring it for them.

3. Automatically trigger your survey after purchase. Consider enclosing a request for survey participation on your receipts. And never underestimate the value of a good incentive for survey participation.

4. Approach your happiest clients about doing a review. Once the surveys start rolling in, create a second email or outreach that goes out only to the happiest customers. (Some studies suggest that customers believe reviews more readily if not all of them are perfect, so consider reaching out to those who gave you three-plus star ratings instead of just five-star reviews.) The gist is the same for everyone: You’re asking those most satisfied with your offering to help you help other pet guardians by leaving a review.

5. Make it easy and tell them where to go. Satisfied customers may have goodwill built up toward you, but they’re busy too. Being respectful of their time can help you get far. Make reviewing you take as little time as possible by including some direct quotes from their survey (or even a full copy of it) that they can copy and paste from. Also, be sure to let them know which social review platform you’d like them to use. Give them one to three choices and link directly to each for them.

6. Say thank you. They feel recognized, and it ensures they’ll keep coming back to you time and time again.

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