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The One Thing You Should Fear Most … and More Tips for July

The most dangerous thing you can do in business is never taking a risk.





Fear the Old

Advertising guru Roy Williams’ words are worth printing and putting in a frame on your desk. They’re a pithy reminder that the business world is always in motion. Just because you’re successful today, it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful tomorrow. And just because something worked five years ago, it doesn’t necessarily work today. Examine your business belief system regularly. Embrace exploration and experiment. Fear stagnancy. And remember these equally good words from Seth Godin: “Safe is risky. The biggest risk is to take no risks at all.”


Get 3-Month Reviews

From Seth Godin’s The Big Moo: Do what entrepreneurial hotelier Chip Conley does at his Joie de Vivre hotels. Make it a habit to sit down with your new hires at about the three-month point. But don’t give them a performance review — have them give you, and your operation, a review. After three months, their eyes are still fresh enough that they’ll be able to see things you’re missing. And they’ll have been on the job long enough to know how things work. Chances are that they’ll have a few great ideas to contribute.



Express Your Sympathy

A fixture of our household, Hazel, a chocolate Labrador, passed away last week. While it may not be uncommon for a vet’s office to send a sympathy note, the card we received from Willow Creek Veterinary Service in Medina, OH, was thoughtful enough that we thought to suggest other pet businesses do the same. You can bet another pup will follow in Hazel’s footsteps, and she’ll be getting her checkups at the same vet. As yet, no other pet businesses have won the grieving household’s allegiance in the same way.


Goodbye, Dirty Bills

Nobody really likes old, dirty money. In fact, when researchers at the University of Winnipeg gave students $20 and told them they could buy as much as they wanted and save the rest, students given crisp $20 bills spent an average of $3.86, while the “dirty money” students spent $8.35. Researchers believe worn bills generate feelings of contamination in the holder, thereby devaluing them. The takeaway? Each time a customer uses a grubby old bill to pay you, stick it in a jar for emergency expenses. Don’t return such notes to your customers or use them to pay staff.



Prepare to Be Shared

What kind of online content is most shareable? Contagious author Jonah Berger has a few ground rules. Quality instructive content is always popular. But be as specific as you can. Making people laugh is good. And it’s better to make them mad than sad. (People don’t share content that makes them cry at the same rate they share what pisses them off.)


Hate Ain’t Great, But Apathy is Worse

Think of a strong brand. Apple. Mercedes. Fox News. Some people love these brands. Some people hate them. That’s how it should be, says Doug Stevens, author of The Retail Revival. “Every strong and focused brand, just like every strong and focused person, creates this love/hate dynamic to some degree.” In other words, if no one hates you, chances are no one loves you much, either.



Blogging Made Easy

Can’t figure out where to start blogging? Business blogger Marcus Sheridan, whose small pool and spa company is rated No. 1 in Google for pool manufacturers in his region, can tell you. Says Sheridan: “Start with the questions you get every day. Take those 100 questions, and turn them into 100 blog posts.” Aim for one FAQ post a week. Supplement with posts about products and events.



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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