Strategies: What your dog can teach you about your business

Woof! Allow me to introduce myself — I’m Cosmo, Rhonda Abrams’ dog. June 20 is “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” so this week I’m writing the column. At our office, dogs come to work every day, and I think I can help you learn a thing or two about business success.

Skeptical? Think a dog can’t know much about running a company? Well, lying under Rhonda’s desk, I’ve heard her on the phone; I’ve sat (actually down-stayed) in on meetings. I’ve learned a lot. After all, I’m a terrier, not an Irish setter.

I’m lucky — Rhonda has a pet-friendly office. When we moved into our office space, she negotiated with the landlord to allow dogs. Now I have a new canine co-worker, Coco, a 3.5-pound, 7-month-old Chihuahua. Coca’s a bundle of energy, and she’s working hard, supervising her human, Petra, as she files or types, greeting visitors at the door, and gleefully helping with the packing materials.

What’s the advantage of having a dog-friendly office?

Helps in recruiting employees. Rhonda lists “dog-friendly office” in every help-wanted ad. That enables her to attract some astonishing people who are delighted to be able to either bring their own dog to the office or just to work in a friendly atmosphere where dogs are allowed.

Helps in retaining employees. Bringing a dog to work is viewed as an incredible perk. Once someone can bring their canine companion on the job, it takes a long time before they’ll give that up.

Makes it easier to stay late. Rhonda doesn’t have to worry about rushing home to walk or feed me.

Creates connections. People who like dogs like us. Even our UPS driver, Paul, gives us especially personal service since he’s become friends with the dogs, giving them a dog biscuit every day.

Makes everyone happier. Instead of taking coffee breaks, we take dog breaks. The humans in the office will get down on the floor and play with me or take a walk around the block. Good for everyone

Moreover, there’s a lot that you — as a businessperson — can learn about what it takes to be a success from your friendly canine. Let me share some of the traits dogs excel at that can help you build your business:

Loyalty. Nobody knows more about loyalty than dogs. We canines virtually invented it. If we ran businesses, we’d be especially loyal to our employees — recognizing we depend on these people for our success. We’d also be loyal to our customers, making sure we really take care of them.

Patience. If dogs were as impatient as humans, we’d have given up on our owners a long time ago. People make mistakes or disappoint you. Businesses suffer setbacks. If you’re going to be in business, you have to learn to accept the long view and learn patience.

Acceptance. You humans put a lot of emphasis on superficial things — how someone looks or the clothes they wear. Dogs look for what’s inside. That’s why people love us.

Perseverance. I love to play fetch. I can retrieve a ball for hours and hours and hours. It takes persistence to get ahead. Some humans want to “get rich quick.” That’s not the way it works. It’s like Rhonda says, “The best way to be an overnight success is to work at it for years.”

Be grateful. How do dogs get humans to do what we want? Not just by making “puppy dog eyes.” We let you know when you’ve made us happy. Canines know humans are suckers for appreciation. Try it. When someone does something that pleases you, let them know. Rhonda sometimes says to me “Good dog.” You could use that, or better yet, “Thank you.”

Get a dog. OK, I couldn’t resist a plug for my species. Dogs make great business companions. You can talk over your problems and ideas in complete confidence, or take a walk and meet potential customers. Dogs restore your confidence, and support you through thick and thin. And when you need a vacation, if you’re good and bring back lots of dog treats and toys, maybe they’ll even write your column for a week.


Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop, publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Their newest is Finding an Angel Investor In A Day. Register for Rhonda’s free business planning newsletter at For an index of her columns, click here. Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2008.



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