How I Started A $8K/Month In-Home Pet Care Service
Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi readers! My name is Benny and I am the proud CEO and Founder of Hands N Paws- an in-home pet sitting and dog walking company serving pet parents in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
I am working on building a pet sitting and dog walking enterprise. Through the years, my inspirations have helped me to see the potential in ANY business whose operations are structured and executed the right way (more on this later in the interview!). I am looking to create the next McDonald’s of in-home pet care, and a big feat it is! However, I’ve learned that when you put your heart and soul into what you want to accomplish, you begin to realize that the sky's the true limit.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
In 2017, I started my business by accident… quite literally! I was in my second year at Capital University (Columbus, Ohio) and was looking to get a part-time job. One day in my spring semester, I found myself looking up “babysitting jobs in Columbus, OH”. In my short search, I came across “dog sitting jobs available - sign up now!” Curiously, I hadn’t known that dog sitting was “a thing” or rather, that there were professional dog-sitting companies out there that employed people. I signed up as a pet sitter on Rover.com that same day and in a matter of 10 months, found myself a technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.
Continue creating and documenting so that the business owner can pointedly begin to remove him/herself from being so directly involved. Herein lies the definition of what it means to be a true entrepreneur.
This is a phrase coined by one of my biggest inspirations in business, Michael Gerber- author of the E-Myth series. More to come on him later!
Basically, I didn’t get involved in entrepreneurship right away. In fact, I had no idea what entrepreneurship really was; and if I did, I falsely interchanged it with what it meant to be a business owner.
You see, the two are VERY different!
A business owner is somebody who likely owns their business, is self-employed, and goes to work every day IN their business.
An entrepreneur is someone who rises above every day and goes to work ON their business, keeping in mind the end goals he/she wants to achieve- ones that are usually way bigger and greater than themselves. An entrepreneur sees his/her business as a vehicle NOT to satisfy personal needs and provide a lavish lifestyle. The motive is not that selfish. An entrepreneur seeks to solve a worldly problem, whether it’s for the betterment or efficiency (or both) as they relate to the way people live, the problems they face, etc.
Let’s look back at my term stated above- “a technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.”
Did you know that every person who goes into business for him/herself is most likely a technician, to begin with? Whether a hairdresser, mechanic, plumber, or chef, the technician is the one who does the actual technical work of the business. Time passes and the technician usually develops a deeper relationship with (and passion for) the technical work they do. Soon enough, that technician realizes he or she can go into business for themselves. At that moment, that technician likely undergoes what’s called an “entrepreneurial seizure.”
This means that this technician firmly believes in the fallacy that because he/she knows how to do the technical work of the business (the labor itself), he/she could just as well know how to run a business that does that kind of technical work.
I had this thought with regards to my business, which eventually made me run into some trouble.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
As with a lot of people who start businesses, I had no idea what I was doing when I launched Hands N Paws. I remember what caused me to leap of faith was being so passionate about hanging out with and taking care of people’s pets, combined with no longer wanting to just continue pet sitting as a hobby. There were so many instances where I sat in my college lectures and zoned out- just daydreaming about what it would even be like to own my own business...
As I said, pet sitting began as a side hustle; but the exact moment I combined my passion for it with the belief that this work could become my source of livelihood (a career), I became a man on a mission.
In May of 2018, I had my official “entrepreneurial seizure” and launched Hands N Paws. That single decision is what led to what I’d say was the worst time of my entrepreneurial life.
Remember when I said that because I knew how to do the technical work (the actual pet sitting and dog walking), I also very well believed I could open and run a business that did that very technical work? Well, that wasn’t true at all
In fact, I came to learn that small businesses fail by the thousands every single day. A totally grueling statistic, It’s true because of the sad reality that these small businesses are run by technicians alone. There is NO entrepreneur in the picture... EVER.
To explain, the technician is the guy or gal who puts out the everyday fires of the business and constantly seeks to do what needs to be done in the present moment just to keep the business alive for that single day, week, or month. The technician is the laborer- the one who does the “technical”/everyday work. The technician is the one who is always doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it merely just to complete the day’s tasks, to get to the next day and do the same things all over again.
The technician is also the guy or gal who adopts a way of thinking (which I like to call stinkin’ thinkin’) that says that employees are generally lazy, bad, and untrustworthy. It’s a way of thinking that implies that the technical work of a business only truly gets done properly (and/or correctly) when the technician is the one who’s doing it.
At any point in the journey, if one were to remove the technician from the picture, the business would begin to fall apart.
I like to imagine a hamster on a wheel, in which the wheel represents the business; and the hamster represents the technician completing the everyday tasks of the business.
What happens if the hamster flies or falls off the wheel?
The wheel naturally stops spinning. Similarly, if you remove a technician from a technician-owned-and-operated business, you have no business.
But, what happens when a technician does great work, makes clients happy, and the word about the business gets around? The technician gets busier, and busier, and busier. The “wheel” starts to spin faster and faster and faster and the “hamster” starts getting more tired, exhausted and soon could start to feel burned out.
At this level of business, the technician might feel a sense of pride or satisfaction for what he or she’s created. Deep down, a sense of fear brews… simply because the business is growing to something bigger than the technician can physically, mentally, and emotionally handle.
The day in which the technician reaches a point of burn-out is the same day he or she must make a very important decision:
Continue to stay a literal prisoner to the everyday demands of his or her business and work IN the fire.
Wake up and begin working ON the business, rather than in it.
There is always a third option too, that is, close the doors of the business forever.
Lucky for me- I chose to wake up and begin working ON my business. I was a full-time technician, responsible for every single everyday demand of the business and plagued by stinkin’ thinkin’, for about a year and a half into launching Hands N Paws.
Then came September of 2019 (16 months after starting my business), and I finally had hope for the future of my business and my life as an entrepreneur.
This is when I made the conscious decision to stop working IN my business, and instead, start working ON it.
It was the first time I ever saw my business like a true entrepreneur and visionary.
I started taking an aerial view of my business and documenting all the systems and processes that I needed in place to empower team members to deliver on their own and the basis of accountability and consistency. In truth, I was working my way towards a business model that, when implemented, it didn’t matter who from the team was providing a service, answering phone calls, posting on our social media, writing for our company blog, managing our employees, etc. because the systems for each area were so clear and concise that, as long as someone could understand and follow the various steps within the system, that’s all that mattered.
Today, I continue to work endlessly ON my business. It’s been a little over a year that I’ve begun documenting our systems and processes, and what it’s allowed me to do is successfully empower my team of employees to represent our company with a greater sense of purpose and consistency in the way they work and deliver.
We are a team of 6 and mighty in nature!
I think the most beautiful thing about working ON my business is that it’s instilled a sense of purpose in me. Like I’m contributing to something greater than myself every day. I get to wake up every day and CREATE, knowing that the world of pet parents who feel bad for working long hours, going on vacation, and not having the time and resources available to care for their pets is counting on me and this company.
My goal is to continue “documenting” until my business is fully systematized. That way, if I choose to franchise, I can rest assured that the first service location will run just as smoothly, predictably, and efficiently as the one-thousandth service location.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am inspired by anyone who even DARES to start their own business. It’s a big deal, and I think our society tends to undermine the amount of courage that’s required for someone to pursue entrepreneurship. We tend to revere those who have college degrees, high credentials, and so on; but I’d have to argue that in comparison, it often takes more guts to pursue owning a business.
Entrepreneurs all start essentially the same- they are out to pursue a life that is unknown and uncertain. Entrepreneurs risk valuable things because they strongly believe in whatever it is they’re pursuing. For me, that has always been an astonishing fact; to be in that same caliber of people makes me very thankful for the personal drive that I’ve been able to cultivate within myself to the point where I do often jump out of bed every morning out of pure excitement for the life I’m living.
I am inspired by a lot of different business people, and for various things like business systems, leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing, and more.
A success story that I always carry in my back pocket is that of Ray Kroc, the CEO, and Founder of McDonald’s. The most fascinating thing to me about Mr. Kroc is that he NEVER worked IN his business.
He never flipped burgers, never fried fries, and/or never poured milkshakes. Mr. Kroc went to work ON his business from day one; and documented the systems and processes within each area of his business so that others (employees) could follow along, implement, execute, and repeat.
The biggest slap-in-the-face realization I had when I learned about Mr. Kroc’s story is that he had so masterfully designed a thousand times over what one small business owner struggles to master in his/her single small-business operation. Pretty crazy to think about, huh?
McDonald’s was founded in the 1950s; Ray Kroc passed away decades ago, yet McDonald’s continues to open stores by the hundreds every year.
To this day, I am still in awe over the craftsmanship that Mr. Kroc so wonderfully possessed. Craftsmanship combined with an entrepreneurial heart allowed him to build up a company of one to a company of one thousand to a company of ten-thousand and beyond.
Another very influential person (in both my personal and professional lives) is author and researcher, Dr. Brené Brown. I first stumbled on Dr. Brown’s work when I came across a TED Talk she did back in 2010 on vulnerability. I later learned that it was one of the most viewed TED Talks in the history of TED; I didn’t wonder why at all!
Brené (as I informally refer to her) is a woman of so much power and potential, whose vision has always been to start a global conversation on vulnerability and shame. She says that shame is the most lethal thing a person can feel- a feeling we experience when we think of ourselves as “lacking” or “not good enough”. The way out of a “shame shit-storm” (as Brené puts it) is adding empathy and vulnerability into the equation.
One of the first books I read by Brené was “I Thought It Was Just Me”. In it, Brené details how shame plays out in our everyday lives- saying that when we feel alone in our problems, stay silent and judgmental towards ourselves, and keep our struggles secretive, we ultimately set ourselves up to experience shame.
Empathy, on the other hand, is when someone comes along and lets us know that they understand and can relate to what we go through (by associating with the feelings evoked by the situation). In these instances, we begin to feel seen and heard for our experiences. We also start to feel like there’s hope for the better.
Vulnerability is the greatest measure of our courage. When we can be vulnerable, we can express empathy towards ourselves and others, and thus help the world become a less shame-filled place.
Ever since discovering Brené’s work, I’ve begun implementing it in the Hands N Paws’ workplace. Our culture is one of “we got each others’ backs”, even in the language we use when communicating with one another. For example, at the end of every new hire’s first day, I always send them a message that reads:
“Great job on completing your first official workday with us! My wish for you as a new team member is to always know that you are going to have days in which you feel energized and excited after work and others in which you’ll feel drained. Regardless, may you continue to remember that your efforts are making a difference in the lives of our clients.”
From the very beginning, I set the stage for team members to do away with feeling any shame if, for instance, they don’t have the best of workdays. Mistakes can happen; certain days might be better than others. That’s why it’s important to always be the leader that my team needs me to be a leader that emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding in a world that’s full of shame traps.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Since opening this business, I feel like I never stopped being a student. Overall, I’ve learned it’s important that I always stay open to personal and professional growth so that my company can constantly grow too. I have always kept in mind that a company is only as sharp as its owner.
My first major point of growth came when I started learning about business systems and processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs); and how a lack thereof is a primary reason for the failure of so many small businesses. I attribute my knowledge and passion for the subject to Michael Gerber, who teaches it in his wildly popular books, the E-Myth series.
In his books, Gerber defines what it means to be a true entrepreneur.
He says that an entrepreneur is simply someone who dreams, envisions, thinks futuristically, and all on a very large scale. It’s the man or woman who recognizes a common problem among human beings, and who so fearlessly sets out to solve that problem with his or her creations and manifestations. The true entrepreneur can already see, feel, and touch the future reality that he or she is so determined will exist someday, so much so that nothing can even dare to deter him or her from the laser-focus and creativity that’s required to manifest that very reality.
For me, I always thought of an entrepreneur as some “untouchable being”. Like a hero who stands on mountaintops, bravely above the rest, constantly envisioning and working towards a reality that betters the world in which we live.
Where I once believed that entrepreneurs were born, Gerber led me to believe that entrepreneurs can be made. They are made because entrepreneurs take the first step in daring to dream; then they dare again and again and again to make those dreams a reality.
About a year and a half into my business when I came across Gerber’s work, I started to notice where I was suppressing the so-called entrepreneur within me. It was almost like I was self-sabotaging my fullest potential.
Up until this point, I was running my business like a hamster on a wheel, where the wheel represented the business and the hamster represented the technician completing the everyday tasks of the business.
Naturally, the technician is going to put out great work, make customers satisfied and happy, and the word about business is going to spread. When this happens, the technician gets busier and the business becomes more demanding. The hamster wheel starts to spin faster and the technician keeps goin’ and goin’ and goin’... until... he starts feeling burned out.
At this level of business, the technician might feel a sense of pride or satisfaction for what he has created. At the same rate, though, a sense of fear arises. Because the business is growing to something bigger than the technician could ever physically, mentally, and emotionally handle, the technician begins to wonder deep down, “How am I going to make this all work and truthfully continue to maintain my sanity?!”
For the first year and half of my business, I was the hamster on the wheel- working day in and day out, putting out the everyday fires. It was a miracle that I was recommended Gerber’s book, “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Fail And What To Do About It”, as it was then that I began to look at my business through a totally different lens.
Gerber told me that small businesses failed by the thousands every single day because they are founded and run by technicians alone. There is no entrepreneur in the picture ever. Where the terms business owner and entrepreneur are used almost interchangeably, Gerber counters that by implying that most people who go to work for themselves simply just own a job, not own a business. At worst, he says that people even misuse the term business owner.
In any case, it was time that I began doing the work of a true entrepreneur, so I could then empower others to take on the role of technician. This first meant getting the business out of my* *head, documented on paper, and organized into elaborate systems and processes.
When I started seeing all the different areas of my business laid out- how I operated in those areas- the blueprint was surreal to look at and analyze. For a split second, I began to imagine my business as a separate entity from me. But, my default role of technician broke my trance and brought me back to reality to remind me that only I could ever be responsible for all the greatness created and put out by the business. One can guess that order to step away from that role required releasing some of the egos.
As I continued working on systemizing my business, I began to put the systems into action. My team of employees would take on different internal tasks and I’d give them SOPs to complete those tasks. The goal was to continue passing the systemized tasks onto various employees for experimentation purposes- to see how well the SOP could be followed and whether or not it needed clarifying, editing, or changing.
I started to see the power that lies within a systems-oriented business versus a people-oriented business. A business that’s based on the latter is one that sets itself up to fail, simply because it depends primarily on the personalities, credentials, and talents of the people who operate them. A systems-oriented business, on the other hand, requires just one thing: that the person fulfilling the position can successfully follow and implement the system that’s been carefully designed for that position.
A lot of business owners like to believe that workers are lazy and never wanna do any of the work they’re given. Of these business owners, I would imagine that many of them forget (or don’t realize) that workers (and people in general) are seduced by certainty, clarity, efficiency, and the feeling of “getting things done”. One could make the argument then that workers (generally) would fare better in a systems-oriented business partly because of the systems in place that tell the workers exactly what they need to do step-by-step. Similarly, workers are more likely to be held accountable for following the rules of the systems. A people-oriented business, on the other hand, relies on the expertise of the individual to really make the company shine.
While some industries demand that its workers have the necessary knowledge, credentials, talents and therefore must pay more attention to people-orientation, I firmly believe that businesses that do technical work (like mine!) have the prime opportunity to document how-tos for everything they do. And, that’s exactly what I did- document every little detail of the business- for the primary sake of organization, flow, and delivering consistently to clients based on clear and methodic SOPs.
My second major point of growth deals with leadership.
What does it mean to be a leader?
I think I always subconsciously held leadership and entrepreneurship in the same light- big words whose traits are reserved for special people. Even the terms can sound intimidating to some, which is why it’s necessary to realize that every single one of us (regardless of the roles we play in our lives), has the ability to exhibit true leadership through the language we speak alone.
In the critically-acclaimed book “Leadership Is Language” by L. David Marquet, I learned so many gold nuggets regarding the way we speak to one another and how our language usage has a massive effect on our organizational teams. Essentially, what we say versus what we don’t say has true power and impact.
One of the most important tidbits comes with the discussion surrounding redwork and blue work. In simplest terms, redwork is defined as “the doing” and blue work is defined as “the deciding”. Old leadership models in organizations are designed to have red workers and blue workers separate from each other. The key to changing that kind of design starts with awareness that the design even exists. Deciders usually represent the managers, while the doers represent the people underneath management. By continuing to keep the two separate, we cause our teams to comply, stay quiet when problems arise, and sit comfortably in the prove and protect mindsets. When we perform redwork, we either work to prove competence or work to protect anyone from seeing potential incompetence. If a situation arises that requires team collaboration, we often end up feeling too uncomfortable to speak up. So, we push further into redwork instead of pausing and seeing where we can assess and improve (blue work).
I imagine that many companies mention their “open-door policy” during new hire onboarding; but what good is encouraging people to speak up in an environment of top-down decision making?!
Organizations should instead emphasize their open-door policies by creating a system for it that blends redwork and blue work via invitations to discuss, a push for open curiosity, vulnerability, variability in ideas, and true workplace collaboration.
Here’s where I sound contradictory, I hit a point of growth in my leadership skills when I learned about the importance of systems and processes in business, and why teams need to follow SOPs for consistency, scalability, and true brand congruence. On the contrary, there needs to be some element of setting systems aside for teams to come together.
Let’s put it this way: Systems are important, but too much emphasis on systems doesn’t allow for creativity in the workplace. It instead allows for efficiency. A system is designed to get results out of people as is needed to meet the minimum requirements for that specific task. Systems are non-adaptive and fragile but are still necessary for the reasons aforementioned. Following systems are what allow for productive redwork to occur.
When we have teams that only know redwork and/or teams that we insist on have a strict adherence to the redwork in which they’re assigned, the result is missed opportunities for open discussions, critical thinking, and ultimately the demise of the human spirit in the workplace.
The lesson herein is to design systems that embrace variability. One way in which I invite variability is by steering clear of the “anchoring bias”. This is best explained through an example of contributions given during team meetings. Naturally, meeting leaders will voice their ideas, concerns, and opinions upon a group of people first, and then allow everyone to take a vote on where they stand with the discussion topic. The anchoring bias says that in these meetings; however, there’s never any room for variability because the group naturally will want to align with the ideas, concerns, and opinions of the meeting leaders. This concept is particularly strong if the anchoring bias is established by the CEO of a company.
To avoid the dangers of reduced variability that comes as a result of the anchoring bias, I have lately designed our company meetings so that we start with voting and then move onto the discussion, instead of the other way around.
Another way in which I cultivate more blue work among my team members is by asking questions that don’t demand binary, yes-or-no answers. How I accomplish this is by rephrasing questions to start with the word “how”. For example, instead of asking a team member “Are these instructions easy to understand?” (demands a yes or no response), I rephrase the question to ask “How easy-to-understand are these instructions?” It’s a small change, but one with an astounding impact on the variability of answers it calls for.
I also like to invite my team to answer questions on a scale of 1-to-5 or 1-to-10.
When I combine the two major points of growth- systems knowledge and proper leadership language- the result is a company that’s committed to both red and blue work. The redwork comes with executing the system (doing the work how you’re told to do it) and the blue work comes with when management inquires about how redwork is going and where improvement needs to occur, therefore allowing for a more open-minded and innovative work environment amidst an organized and effective systems design.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use various software to manage different aspects of the business.
Precise Petcare is the name of our client and staff management software. On the client-side, it’s very user-friendly and allows clients to sign up and on board with us completely on their own. In a time that’s very technologically advanced where everything can be done on one’s phone, the self sign-up ability has been a win for both the client and us (the company). It’s no wonder the high-tech companies like Wag and Rover have taken off so well- not because they had millions of dollars to invest with, but because they realized the importance of a signup process that is easy, fast, and totally user friendly.
On the staff side, Precise Petcare allows for scheduling team members, approving/declining requests for time off, timesheet and mileage tracking, and a few other things.
Another big platform we use is Google Sites, Drive, and Calendar. Google Sites is where we store all our company Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the Pet Care Technician Training Manual. Sites organize the information into different sections along the side of the screen; so, it’s super easy to navigate. All our employee’s bookmark Sites on the phones, so if they’re out in the field walking dogs and are curious about some kind of protocol, they simply go on their browser, click the bookmark, and navigate to the section they’re needing.
Sites also have a search feature, which is even more convenient in that it allows us to type in keywords of what we’re looking for, click search, and be taken right to the section we’re looking for.
Google Drive is where we collaborate with the team. It’s where we keep track of new leads in the selling and onboarding processes. I (Benny) currently have a system in place for administrative sales work and have tested it out with a current team member to see how well it could be followed. I like to look at my systems (especially new ones) as experiments whose variables change one at a time between each test until it feels like the system is well-oiled and ready to be implemented officially.
In any case, our blog manager, Victoria Stavish, also uses Google Drive a lot for writing blog outlines and final copies, storing blog images, and more. Whenever she’s done with whatever she’s tasked with, we collaborate and make changes necessary to move onto the actual writing stage.
While Precise Petcare allows us to do staff scheduling, it really only applies to fieldwork (dog walks and pet visits). For what we like to call “internal tasks”, such as blog management work, we do all our scheduling on Google Calendar. Management usually just “Creates An Event”, gives it a title, sets the date/day, adds reminders, and invites whoever is responsible for completing that task. To help us stay on top of the events in the Google Calendar, I’ve made sure to emphasize in the SOP the importance of adding reminders (usually 1 day before, 1 hour before). It also gives you the option to add a unique Google Meet space, which is something we enable whenever the event is a one-on-one monthly check-in call with an employee, an interview with a new applicant, an orientation for a new hire, or a company-wide virtual meeting.
Slack is an app/software where we do all of our internal communication in the company. Slack has literally been the glue of a platform we’ve needed to stay connected while we all work independently.
With this kind of job, it’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see each other every day. There isn’t a physical location that we all go to and work. We are driving all over to different clients’ homes; and with that, while there are lots of systems (SOPs) in place for total clarity of job duties, our employees need to know that a team has got their backs should they ever need anything.
Slack operates in channels. The channels act as chat rooms that each have specific purposes. For example, one of our channels is #livingroom. This is where we share non-work-related things and come together as a family. Another channel we have is #help. This is to be used by the team if there are ever any questions or concerns on a job, or if they need help with an internal task.
JazzHR is the software we use for hiring and recruiting. It has honestly become an investment so worthwhile because of its robust and numerous features. Its platform allows us to create jobs and job descriptions; and once we have hiring needs (which is always!), we can set those jobs to “open” status. At this time, the job opening gets posted and blasted on all free job board sites (Indeed, Zip Recruiter, etc).
In the job creation process, what’s really cool about Jazz’s platform is it allows us to add knock-out questions to applications. Similarly, we configure the settings on those questions to automatically “knock-out” or red-flag someone’s applied if they answer the questions in a way that doesn’t meet our needs. This is one of Jazz’s BEST features; because it helps us to solely focus on the applicants we do want!
Another amazing feature of Jazz’s is its ability for us to create hiring workflows and stages. In these stages, we have attached canned emails that get auto-sent to the applicant once he/she gets moved to that specific stage in the process. Overall, Jazz is extremely streamlined and has allowed us to save lots of time and energy on hiring!
Before using JazzHR, the company would simply use Indeed’s platform directly and just post job openings there. There were no workflows or canned emails. Similarly, it made the hiring process very time-consuming and dreadful to complete. Now, with the tap of a few buttons (moving of stages), an applicant is taken through the hiring process promptly. This not only has been beneficial for streamlining and efficiency purposes within the company, but it also has been beneficial for the applicant because it shows them that we are quick to grasp and hold onto their interest (if we want them to work for us!).
As we continue to grow and develop, there will definitely be more software in place; but for now, this is completely suitable for the business’s current needs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
I have tons of tidbits to share with entrepreneurs, especially those in their beginning stages. First and foremost, the organization is key, especially when it comes to business financials. All entrepreneurs should look at investing in a bookkeeper and accountant from the get-go.
I didn’t hire either until I was a year and a half into running my business. With that said, the company I hired, Scott & Phillips Tax, had to reconcile all my books from that previous year and a half all the way through the current date. It was a total hassle and cost me hundreds of dollars. If you do it right from the start, you won’t have to worry about anything being unorganized, you learn how to read certain statements and understand your company’s cash flow, and overall it becomes a total business investment (more than a mere cost) in hindsight.
Another great piece of advice- and one that I learned when I began studying business systems and processes- is to never believe the idea that nobody can do the job as well as you do. Please, and for the sake of growth, let go of the ego and stop thinking that “nobody wants to work,” “people are lazy,” and “I am the only one who does the work the way it’s supposed to be done.”
I used to think this way myself; and the only place it got me was nowhere. It isn’t a surprise to me then that learning about business systemization opened my eyes to the idea that the work I was doing could be done by others since systems are literally created so that a) all the inner-workings of a business could get out of the owner’s head, and b) so consistency in deliverables is possible.
It was only then that I knew I could empower a team of people to deliver the way I had delivered to clients, sell the way I sold to clients, work with pets the way I worked with pets, and so on.
Then, whenever I’d have the fleeting thought that “nobody wanted to work” or “I can’t find anyone good”, instead of continuing to waste my time and energy on harnessing those negative thoughts, I’d instead go back to the systems in place and pinpointing what could’ve been causing such outcomes.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t ineligible people out there whom I’ve encountered in my recruiting efforts; but instead, I always try to take an introspective approach to make sure that our recruiting systems are clear, concise, and carefully designed in a way that helps me have a better chance of getting the right people on board first, weeding out the “bad workers”, and at the end of the day being able to avoid instances where I might start feeling hopeless about finding good employees.
A third most important piece of advice (similar to my answer in the first question above); but the organization also demands that you develop proper systems and processes. In turn, this will always allow for consistency in deliverables, simply because workers will only see their work through a “how-it’s-done” lens. I cannot emphasize this enough to business owners, especially for the sake of freeing themselves from the everyday demands of owning a business.
I have met TONS of business owners (family, friends, people in networking groups) and since starting their businesses, they’ve been working IN them in the same ways since the very beginning. They still put out the everyday fires, never allowing a true creative entrepreneur ever come into the picture. The demise of small businesses is almost always because these technicians get tired and worn out from doing those everyday demands; but they’re so stubborn that they don’t want to take the business out of their heads, into the hands of employees, and actually grow.
Until l the day I die, I will argue that the #1 tool for the success of small businesses is the creation and documentation of SOPs. That is all. Not the industry, or amount of money involved, or what a business makes, sells, or does determine the success of a business. Moreover, the success of a business is determined by how well the business knows how it makes what it makes, sells what it sells, and does what it does. Once business owners grasp this concept, they can begin to take an aerial view of their business, zoom out of the everyday lens they’ve been looking into, and document the “how-to’s” for each part/department. The goal is to then continue creating and documenting so that the business owner can pointedly begin to remove him/herself from being so directly involved. Herein lies the definition of what it means to be a true entrepreneur.
Lastly, when I began documenting my business’s systems and processes, I no longer began to equate success to money. The more I was able to remove myself from the business and be able to empower a team of people to step up to the plate and deliver to clients, the I equated success to freedom. Freedom as it related to actually owning my business, and not my business owning me.
Where can we go to learn more?
To learn more about my company, Hands N Paws, you can visit our website and social media platforms.
Hands N Paws has provided an update on their business!
About 1 year ago, we followed up with Hands N Paws to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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