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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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New Stats on Instagram Point to How You Can Use It More Effectively

Knowing who you are as a brand and how to visually express is only half the battle.

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WHETHER YOU ARE LOOKING to build awareness, community or sales, Instagram is a powerful platform to include in your marketing mix. In our 2019 Pet Industry State of Instagram Report, OffLeash Communications breaks down how companies in our industry are currently using the platform, how their performance can be improved and how to further capitalize on the platform in the coming year. Download the report here: petsplusmag.com/4192.

Knowing who you are as a brand and how to visually express that is half the battle when it comes to effectively using Instagram. The other half of the battle is finding a balance between promoting products and showcasing your brand’s personality in an entertaining way that captivates the attention of your audience.

Here are five ways to best utilize the platform to ensure you are making the most of your time, effort and money:

1. Don’t start without refreshing your content and social media strategies. Last year’s strategy won’t work for this year’s objectives. Trends and best practices evolve annually, so you must know how to adjust your content and techniques. Use inspiration from leading accounts and consult with experts to get some neutral third-party input.

2. Collaborate with well-aligned micro-influencers and other brands to find new audiences and broaden your reach. This not only helps your brand build trust with consumers by validating your products, but also allows you to enrich the content on your own feed, which increases the return you will see on your influencer marketing investment.

3. Build anticipation for upcoming products and big announcements for your brand. Given the fact that more and more consumers are using the platform as another way to discover, validate, and shop for brands and their products, it is a great opportunity to get your consumers excited about upcoming changes you’re working on to make their experience with your brand and your products stronger and better.

4. Tell your story. Just because Instagram is a visual platform, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to share your story and deepen the connection you have with consumers. Consumers want to know who you are, what you stand for and where you are going as a company.

5. Understand that the insights are your best friend. Regularly monitoring your Instagram analytics allows you to ensure you’re targeting the right demographics, posting enough (or too much), posting on the right day, and making sure you’re aware of who is discovering you.

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7 Steps to an Attention-Grabbing Press Release

Let the press know about you.

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DO YOU HAVE NEWS you want to share about your pet business, but aren’t sure how to get it out to media? A press release is one helpful tool. Let me walk you through it.

 

Think Like a Journalist

When is a press release worth your time? Anniversaries, product launches and large events are good media opportunities. To get started, jot down one-line essentials like the who, what, where, why and how, starting with the most important news. Then expand into a sentence or two each using third person, never first person.

Be Objective

Although your brand may be playful, save the adjectives for quotes and advertisements. Press releases are meant to deliver just the facts without any fluff.

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Include a Pithy Quote

The quote is your chance to shine. Make it count. Say something authentic that shares insight and personalizes your story in one or two sentences. One small note: Don’t be tempted to look for synonyms for “said.” “He said,” “she said” are perfect here. Here’s an example:

“We are excited to announce that this year’s gala was our most successful to date; raising important funds that will help us to save and care for more dogs and cats until they find their forever homes,” said Leslie Granger, president and CEO at Bideawee.

Limit It to One Page

When it comes to press releases, brevity is best. Describe your business, product, services or events in approximately 400 words.

Include Company Info

It can be easy to forget little things like your email address, phone number and company summary. Paste at the bottom of the release like this:

Media Contact: Chilly Levine, chillylevine@fwv-us.com; (919) 700-1234

About P.L.A.Y.

P.L.A.Y. is the creator and designer of stylish and eco-friendly pet bedding and toys. P.L.A.Y. strives to create pet products that are unique and tailored to discerning pet parents who are not only looking for products that are great for their dog and cats, but also tastefully designed for their humans and responsibly made from environmental and social perspectives. To view P.L.A.Y.’s line of award-winning products, visit PetPLAY.com.

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Craft a Headline

Headlines can make or break your news. The key is to summarize your news in approximately 10 words while grabbing a journalist’s attention. Write in an active voice and keep it interesting. Here is the format and a few examples I like:

  • “One Woman Changes Pet Retail with X Product or Service”
  • “Animals Displaced by Hurricane Michael Receive Life-Saving Shelter”
  • “ Launches New (that solves X) at ”

Send to Target Outlets

Congratulations! You did it. Need help with distribution? No worries. Google “newswire services” and you’ll be on your way.

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Candace D'Agnolo

Free Business Tools for Marketing, Growth & Team!

3 apps this writer’s business can’t live without.

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AS A BUSINESS OWNER, it can be so overwhelming to find the proper software, websites or apps to use in your business for some of the most basic tasks. There’s a lot of trial and error involved. They’re time-consuming to set up, and then you find out you dislike the program, or it isn’t working for you. Why even bother, right?!

Elsewhere in this issue (“An App for That,” page 31), readers have suggested their favorite business apps, and here, I share three of my favorites, two of which are shared by readers. These are proven apps that have been highly beneficial in my business for digital marketing, organization and scheduling. I hope you will find them as useful as I do!

Linktr.ee for Instagram

If you use Instagram, you know that you can’t hyperlink to anything in your posts, and you only have one space to put a clickable URL in your profile. This is why you often see, or perhaps write yourself, “Link in Bio,” and then you have to constantly change the link. As time passes on, so does your post, but the link never gets updated because you forget.

Linktr.ee gives you one URL to put in your bio, but you can connect an unlimited amount of destinations to your Linktr.ee URL. There are free and paid versions, allowing for branding, email capture and more. Send your followers anywhere: articles, web store, events, socials and more. Only your custom Linktree URL stays within your Instagram bio.

Maybe you want to direct customers to your website homepage, then your grooming appointment scheduler, your Facebook Event list for your anniversary party, your training class schedule, your wholesale website. By not utilizing this super-easy tool, you are missing out! And your customers are, too!

Trello for Organization

I’ve been using Trello since 2011 when it was released. I’ve tried a dozen other project management/team tracking/organization tools since, and I just keep coming back to Trello. It allows you to keep all your systems, process, checklists, research, customer conversations and order flow organized, all in one location.

Trello allows you to create all kinds of lists via boards, lists and cards almost like virtual Post-It Notes, all organized into journals. But they are Post-It Notes on steroids! You can make checklists, attach photos, assign team members, link to other cards and communicate with your team about intricate and specific details, from customer issues to shipment details. Additionally, add due dates, duplicate lists easily and store ideas.

You can also set notifications, so when anyone updates a task you see what changes were made, or what was marked completed. Everything is in real time, so when an update happens, everyone sees it immediately. I use Trello for just about everything in my business and personal life to keep on top of my tasks — even to shop for groceries.

When I Work for Scheduling

When I Work allows managers, like at our doggie daycare, to easily schedule their employees, keep track of clocking in and out, and availability, and it is convenient for employees to view and manage their schedules as well. The best part is, you can use this on your mobile device or desktop computer. This also allows you to view multiple locations if you have more than one.

This intuitive program allows companies to easily schedule their staff. You can create shift templates that allow you to quickly copy and paste a previous week, then edit as needed. Managers and employees can communicate and leave notes for each other. Everyone can get notifications as well. Employees can view their schedule, update their availability, request time off, swap shifts and more all from their mobile devices. There is also a function where employees acknowledge they have viewed their schedule. There are free and paid versions of the software.

With these tools, you can successfully funnel new customers, stay more organized than ever with projects and easily schedule employees — all for free!

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