Today, Friday, June 24, is Take Your Dog to Work Day. And, beyond all the jokes about animals running wild in the halls, the occasion gives us a good opportunity to consider -- seriously, now -- the link between entrepreneurs and their pets.
It's a closer link than you may think. Pets may actually be viewed as exemplifying the entrepreneurial spirit: Just look at some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, all of whom have four-legged family members. And, with good reason: Dogs provide unlimited love and unconditional support, often providing a good outlet for stress relief (their owners', not their own).
That relief can occur through an act as simple as a long walk or a simple pet on the head (the pet's, not the owner's). But, there's more: In some cases, pets can be the spark to light a fire for the next big idea. In fact, a 2016 Take Your Dog to Work Day study by Wellness Natural Pet Food surveyed 1,000 American dog and cat parents and found that 46 percent believed bringing pets to work (home- or outside office-based) improved their overall mood, therefore reducing their stress and contributing to their overall happiness.
Those benefits can help when you're pursuing the entreprenurial road to success, which so often is filled with twists, turns and anxiety. Having a pet along contributes to success. According to a pet and health study of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners, by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 97 percent of general practitioners surveyed said they believed there are actual health benefits tied to pet ownership, such as lower blood pressure, stress relief and overall improved levels of happiness.
For millennials responding to our own Take Your Dog to Work survey, 65 percent agreed that bringing a pet to work would help improve their mood, helping motivate them as they create a successful startup business.
As entrepreneurs, we can also learn from, and draw inspiration and a unique perspective from how pets approach life. Observe how your pooch perceives and interacts with the world, and you might be surprised to learn how taking a canine-style lead can translate to entrepreneurial success. Here are some tips and tricks for incorporating Fido into your business plan:
Show some excitement -- Dogs innately get excited about even the smallest things. Show them a ball, get the leash out of the cupboard or even pick up the car keys, and it's as if you suggested the best product idea of the year. In the business world, times can get tough, so don’t forget to celebrate the wins, to inspire your team and remember: Excitement and enthusiasm are infectious, so make these feelings your focus every day.
Network every chance you get -- Ever see dogs at the dog park? They are straight into the mix and making new friends. The business world is no different. Never stop networking, whether it’s with friends, past colleagues or even the person in line with you at the coffee shop. You never know when the next person you meet may be a key supporter to help further your business idea. (Just don't make a practice of sniffing where you're not welcome.)
Never stop acquiring knowledge -- A dog’s nose is always sniffing, twitching and sensing everything that is going on in its world. In business, knowledge is power. Know your industry, know your competitors and pay close attention to all that is going on around you.
Be open to learning -- Contrary to the old saying, an old dog can always learn a new trick. Entrepreneurship is about solving problems and learning on the go, so never think that you are too old or set in your ways to learn and grow.
Keep yourself healthy – Owners who feed their dogs a high-quality pet food understand the role that diet and nutrition play in supporting their pet’s overall health and well-being. The same should hold true for how we take care of ourselves, by making health and wellness a priority in our own lives. Even Richard Branson regularly states that your health is your most important asset, and that you can’t be successful if you don’t have your health.
Related: How to Start a Pet Business
Have fun! - The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are doing what you want, you’re enjoying your life and you are building the business and culture that you have dreamed of. So, be like those dogs at the dog park and have fun! It's infectious, especially when the fun you're having is fun time spent with your pet. Bring them to work every chance you get -- are you listening, employers? Pets on the premises lift everyone's spirits and inspire startup staffs to reach their goals.