What business owners can learn from pets

Caring for a pet is just like managing a business as it requires patience and accepting the fact that we can’t always control everything

Man dressed in casual outfit sitting at a desk and working on a computer surrounded by his pet cats and plants, creative field, designer or architect
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Last fall, we welcomed a kitten into our home and over the past few months, we’ve been trying to get to know each other. I have to admit that it was not easy as communication was difficult and so was reinforcing the right behaviour. However, despite all the challenges, our overall experience has been positive.

There have been many studies on how pets can calm us; good news for stressed out entrepreneurs. A 2019 Washington State University study on students revealed how 10 minutes of interaction with cats and dogs can help significantly reduce their stress levels.

Welcoming a cat into our home has certainty been a morale booster in a very challenging year but it also reminds me of some important lessons that are applicable to the business world.

Sometimes you can’t control everything 

Our cat is very playful but at times it does not want to engage, no matter how many treats or toys we have in hand. In business, you may be ready and everything is set, but your client is not, or the economic situation suddenly takes a turn for worse. Anything is possible and last year has proven it well. This is where resourcefulness and creativity are important. How can you make the situation better? How could you inspire your clients to change their minds. How can you come up with another solution that is a win-win for you and your customers?

Communication is the key

In the beginning we did not quite understood what our cat wanted and it did not understand us either. When working with a new client, keep in mind that communication is  instrumental in order to develop a strong business relation. Dedicate time to understand your client’s needs, and ensure that they are aware of your terms and conditions. Once everything is clear, it will be a smooth ride for both of you. One of my acquaintance, who works as an interior design didn’t set clear terms and conditions in the beginning on how many revisions she could make on a design, or set office hours. It troubled her but once she sorted it out and communicated it clearly, she enjoyed her work more, and her clients understood where they stood.

Everyone loves treats

Our cat loves treats, but then who doesn't? Always remember to reward your team on a job well done, as well as your clients. Your reward system doesn’t necessarily always need to be expensive. You can treat your team members to a lunch or movie tickets. You can do the same with your clients. Offer them exclusive discounts and promotions, access to behind the scenes, a day spent in your factory or workshop, or samples of your new products.

You will mess up and that’s okay

We didn’t always get it right in the beginning when training our cat. You are most likely to mess up in your entrepreneurial journey too. Perhaps you wouldn’t know where to cut costs, how to best market your business, or understand your customers’ needs. But don’t beat yourself up for it. In the beginning of my career, I used to always blame myself for getting things wrong. There are some things we wouldn’t know and that’s okay. Constantly read, educate yourself and surround yourself with a support group of other entrepreneurs who could help you and steer you in the right direction.

Success takes time

If you see us now, you would be surprised at how our cat gets along with everyone. But the progress people see now took time and dedication. The same thing applies to business. Many of us are guilty of believing that success can happen overnight, but it is just the opposite. Success is often the result of perseverance, dedication and patience. Give it time and enough efforts and you will eventually achieve your goals.

Caring for a pet is just like managing a business. It requires patience and accepting the fact that we can’t always control everything.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.