As some of you may know, my husband and I have a beagle/german shepherd. He’s a rescue dog that we acquired from the city pound nearly two years ago, and as with many rescue dogs, he comes with a slew of isms. This is Oliver:
He is 41lbs of pure energy and excitement; there are very few moments when he is ‘powered down’, and he’s taught me quite a few things in my short while of being a consultant and entrepreneur.
1. Do NOT Schedule Client Calls for Wednesdays.
This one was a no brainer; in our neighbourhood, the waste removal services come around each Wednesday. They alternate between garbage/recyclables and recyclables/compost every other week…and in the summer (just for fun), they do all forms of collection each and every week. This means that the enemy (garbage truck) goes up one side of our street, then down the other collecting garbage, then does the same for recyclables and compostables. Oliver absolutely hates the garbage truck and will valiantly protect his homestead by scaring them off with incessant barking. This does not bode well for client calls.
2. Apologize in Advance.
Whenever I do begin a conference call, I begin by apologizing in advance. We’ve worked very hard to get Oliver’s barking down to a minimum and it’s an effort made in vain. He’s a beagle. He barks. So typically, I will let my client know that I have a dog, and apologize in advance in the event that his barking occurs. Initially I thought this would be an annoyance, but most of my clients have been understanding and even empathetic (most seem to have their own barkers).
3. Schedule yourself Accordingly
I’ve been over-extended, and it can suck. Even if I’m passionate about the projects I’m working on, there’s only one of me, and I still have other household responsibilities. Come 4pm, I will be reminded (not so gently) that someone needs feeding and to play fetch or go for a walk. This can seem like a cumbersome task if I’ve over-extended my self. Basically, you don’t need a beagle to tell you this, you just need a reality check and for someone (me – right here) to let you know that you have a lot of other things going on (that’s life), and even if those 5 projects all sound amazing, you’re not superhuman and something’s gotta give!
4. Know your Job and Keep your Eyes on the Prize.
For Oliver, this is fetch. He knows as soon as we near the field behind our house, that I will unclip his leash and he will enter work mode, fetching the ball as many times as I’m willing to throw it. Sometimes his focus and determination can be a short-coming (he had a toe amputated this past year in a frisbee-related incident), but generally, he loves his job.
For me, this is my business and clients; when it’s time, I always settle in and focus on the work to be done. Like Oliver, sometimes this can be a short-coming…see #3 – say for example, when I over-extend myself. But generally, I love my job.
5. Don’t be a Jerk.
When Oliver is focused on his job, of fetching, his focus and determination and passion lead him to be a bit of a jerk. He doesn’t like sharing (his ball), and will quickly snap at someone who tries to take it. This has taught me (in addition to #3) that when feeling over-extended, share the wealth. Recommend other individuals with similar skill sets who may be available to take on new work and deliver a comparable product. Don’t snap at anyone who tries to eek in on your workload…most times it’s with the intention of helping.