The Wiener Dog Effect: Selling Yourself Short


What is your worth? This can be a very challenging question for any entrepreneur, but I think it is especially hard for a female entrepreneur. As women, we are taught that we must be modest and humble, and this can impede how we price our services. Determining price is one of the most important tasks for your business. You do not want to overprice yourself too much compared to your competition and make yourself unattainable to the client. But, you also do not want to underprice yourself and upset your competition and devalue your services. It is a challenge, but I think as female entrepreneurs we are more likely to fall into the wiener dog effect, and sell ourselves short. So, how do you avoid this? Follow the below key points to help price yourself appropriately.

1. Know Your Competition
You should know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and within this you should know their pricing. How does their reputation and success reflect their pricing structure? Understand who prices themselves at the lower range of the market and who is at the top. Compare this to their strengths and weaknesses. How do they promote themselves and what is their messaging around their marketing?

2. Know Your Break Even
Your break even point is when the cost to sell a product or service matches the cost you are selling it for. As a business owner, it is incredibly important that you know your break even point for each service or product to determine your profit. has a great explanation on how to determine your break even point here. Knowing this helps to ensure you are earning a profit for a particular product or service, but also helps to accurately track your overall profitability for your business.

3. Know Your Worth
You also need to know your own strengths and weaknesses; both as the leader of your organization and for your overall business. Your strengths and what sets your business apart helps to determine your worth. You must think of these strengths when determining your pricing, but it is also important that you promote them as well. For example, for myself when I first started it was difficult to determine what to charge for private training services as there was such a range within the market. I knew my strengths were my experience as I had over four years working in the shelter environment and multiple pet related jobs within that time as well. I had apprenticed with a great organization and could use this experience to promote myself and what I would offer. This became my selling feature to help set myself apart from the competition, but also to determine my fees.

4. Know When to Increase
Increase your pricing as your reputation, experience and credentials increase. I take education seriously and worked towards gaining certifications in my industry to demonstrate my knowledge and skills. Dog training is unregulated and anyone can say they are a trainer or can obtain certification for only attending a short program with limited handling of dogs. I took every opportunity to learn by reading books, attending seminars and conferences, taking online courses and obtaining certifications through the most recognized organization in the industry. This allowed me to begin to price myself above the competition and also set the standard for the industry. I am proud to see how seriously dog trainers now take their education locally, and in turn, we have educated the dog-owning public on what they should be looking for in a trainer. This helped to set dogma as the leader, which in turn allowed me to price our services at the top end of the scale.

4. Ask Your Clients
Do not be afraid to ask your clients what they consider fair pricing. Their answers may surprise you. If you are considering offering a new service or fee structure, create a survey for your existing and potential customers. Ask them what they consider to be some important factors when determining to purchase that particular service or product and what they would pay for it.

5. Do Not Become the Wiener Dog
By going through the above information, you  should have a good understanding of your worth. However, even when we know that, we may still undersell our services in an attempt to bring in more clients. This can be detrimental to your reputation in two ways. First off, customers do compare low pricing as equating to low quality. If you want to be known for offering a high quality product or service, keep your pricing higher. Secondly, you risk upsetting your competition. I believe that we need to support and encourage each other, even if we work within the same industry. If you go out and undercut everyone else, you do risk alienating yourself from your competitors. Everyone has more to gain when we support and work together. Keep your pricing fair and be aware of what the market trend is for it.

Do you have some other suggestions for how to avoid the Wiener Dog Effect? Or do you have some stories to share of your experiences with this? Comment below or email me at!

Shy Pup: Overcoming Fears and Insecurities

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I think any entrepreneur can be trapped by their fears. However, the difference between a successful entrepreneur and one that continually struggles, is how they face that fear. I see more females who do not start a project or put themselves forward for something because they are scared. As a woman, throughout our whole lives we are compared to one another and told that we are not good enough. More time is spent ensuring we look a certain way and that we do not do anything to upset others.  ‘Like a girl’ is a negative statement used in a variety of ways. It truly is a double standard. A fearless and confident female is more envied and spoken poorly about instead of encouraged and admired. An assertive female who goes out to get what she wants is considered bossy not a leader. Things are changing and we are seeing more and more women accomplish tremendous success within the business world. However, there are still a large number of us who think we are not good enough or worry about what others think. We become trapped by these fears and they stop us from taking on certain projects or putting ourselves out there. We can get stuck from the voices in our head that have us doubting ourselves and our abilities. We need to stop doing this and the only way to do so is to just get out and do it!

I recently took part in an online business course targeted for women. The course was great, but I noticed how so much of it was focused on coaching us that we could do this, we had to believe we had the skills to do so and to believe in ourselves. This was excellent advice, but it got me thinking about how this would not exist in a course specifically for entrepreneurs and not just females. And it made me angry. Not angry at the course, but just angry that we need so much reassurance to get out and do something. The group is excellent in providing the much needed support and encouragement for everyone, but it got me thinking about how our fears and self doubt are crutches for so many women. I’ve been struggling with this lately myself, and have been thinking a lot about all the barricades I’ve been putting up for myself, and assuming they are put there by someone else or for some other reason. Let’s keep up with our encouragement and support and learn how to face our fears and conquer our self doubts! If you have been thinking of your next big project or undertaking, but have struggled to get it started, read below on how to make it happen.

Just Do It
We hear this all of the time, but so many of us do not act on it. We sit and think of all the reasons why we have more important things to do, why people may not like it, the reasons why someone else may be better at it, and so many other reasons we tell ourselves to wait. What does waiting accomplish? Nothing. Except maybe to open the door and allow someone else to come along and do it instead. I love the shows, Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, and often think about how many people must be sitting at home watching the show and be cursing themselves for not acting on an idea that is being pitched. The only difference between them and the people on the show are that they didn’t act on it. They thought of it, and then thought of all the reasons they shouldn’t do it, gave into their fears, and didn’t pursue their idea. What are you waiting for?

Tell Your Inner Doubts To Shut Up
These are the worst and the ones that so many of us listen to. The ones that tell you that you are not good enough, that you may fail, that there are others who can do this better. We must stop listening to them. They are there to protect you, to avoid the potential struggle and challenges ahead. But not one successful entrepreneur will tell you that they got to where they were because it was easy. These challenges and struggles are the best things for us to face. They make us stronger, more resilient and they are part of reaching your goals. Do not let your fear of them stop you. “A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping-stone to the optimist.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Let The Nay Sayers And Haters Light A Fire
We all have people who will tell us to play it safe and not take risks. And there are others who will not like what you are doing. This happens to everyone. The ones who want you to play it safe, care about you. Like your own inner voice, they are trying to protect you. They don’t want you to struggle, or be hurt or suffer. And chances are, they’ve played it safe in their lives. There is nothing wrong with this, but you are different. You know you have more to offer and more to share. The ones that tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t, should drive you to prove to them why you should. Take it as fire to prove them wrong.

And what about the haters? These are the people that envy what you are doing. They are dealing withtheir own insecurities and are upset that you are doing what they want to be doing. They want you to fail. You must ignore them. Block them. Cut them out of your life. Remove all negativity and focus on your passion and what drives you to do more.

What Now?
My hopes from this are that we learn to better support each other and celebrate each other’s success. We are all on different paths and have so much to offer. Any time a negative thought, a doubt, or fear crosses your mind, learn to turn it off and ignore it. If you have ideas and projects you want to start, I challenge you to sit down today and map it out and start making a plan. The only reason why it is not happening, is because you are giving into your fears and not starting it. Take responsibility for your own life and do it today.


Please share on what has stopped you or how you may have given into your fears? How are you going to take control of your life and make it happen? You’ve got this and I would love to hear what you accomplish.


Basic Manners Training: Why Common Courtesy and Being Polite Matters

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Imagine two scenarios:

In the first one, a new student is showing up with their rambunctious puppy to their very first puppy training class. They are nervous and excited and do not know what to expect. They begin to approach the business, the door opens and they are welcomed with a smiling person, in clothing with the business’s name on it, who says a cheerful hello, introduces themselves with a handshake, asks their puppy’s name and welcomes them to class. They help the new student get their puppy in the door and direct them to where they should sit. As soon as the new student moves on, they are happily greeted by another worker who helps them to their spot, checks them in to class and gives them a few pointers on how to keep their puppy settled while the rest of the class comes in.

In the second one, this same student struggles to get the door open, keep their puppy with them and not trip over them. They are greeted with a hello and smile but no welcome or handshake introduction. They are asked their puppy’s name. The person is kind and smiling and asks them to take a seat. No one interacts with them until the class starts.

The second one is not poor service, but it is far from excellence. It lacks the common courtesy from the first scenario and has not put the client at ease. Yes, this may be specific to a dog training the class, but the same applies for any time a client walks into a business the first time. They are unsure of what to expect, so why not go above and beyond their expectations? And do not just think about it as a first impression, but as something that should happen every time they walk through your door or communicate with you via email, phone or through your social media channels. In this post, I am going to go through all of these ways that we communicate with our clients and how to provide excellence in customer service for each through the simple act of common courtesy and being polite. I will be discussing this in the context of dog training, but these apply to any business.

The Basics
The basics are the simple gestures of a smile, handshake and eye contact. When you meet someone for the first time you should always extend this basic social gesture. This includes everyone in the family, including children. I’m always amazed at how many children do not expect you to introduce yourself to them. It is just as important to put them at ease and build a rapport as it is their parents. Take the time to meet each family member before interacting with their dog. When you do say hello to the dog, be sure to provide a compliment such as “You have the best ears” or “I love your full body wiggles”. Just be sure to say something different for each dog in the class and be genuine. Do not forget to introduce youself each class if a new family member attends the training. You should take care to also record the names of all family members on your attendance to ensure you remember these for each class. And greet each of them individually for every class. Ask them how they are doing, inquire about how things are going with a specific challenge they had or discuss something they mentioned at a previous class. This demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in them and their dog.

I know many dog trainers struggle with this because either the class is busy, there are other distractions or because we immediately start thinking of solutions to their questions or struggles instead of listening. However, I also think in today’s world we are bombarded by so many distractions that this can be a challenge for many of us. When a client asks you a question or is discussing something with you, stop what you are doing and listen. Be aware of your body language with this one. If you are thinking about what tasks you have to complete, or about your phone beeping in your pocket, or anything else, your body language will show that. Look at the person, lean towards them, nod your head and listen. A great idea is to also paraphrase while they are talking to you. For example, if they are discussing the frustrations of their puppy constantly mouthing them, say something like “It must be overwhelming when you feel like you cannot interact with your puppy without them using you as a chew toy.” This demonstrates that you are listening and are engaged with them.

Remembering Names
Have you said this one before? “I always remember the names of the dogs, but can never remember the people’s names.” Calling people by their first name has a tremendous impact and one that dog trainers often feel they can forget about as long as they remember the dog’s name. What you are actually doing is demonstrating that you just put more effort in the remembering the dog’s name and not the person’s name. Do not fall into this trap and make an active effort to remember everyone’s names. Refer regularly to your attendance list and make the effort to call them by their first name. I will often go and review the list before approaching students during exercises or to demo with their dogs. There is no harm in them seeing you make that effort to remember their name. This is a simple way to go above and beyond to build a relationship and provide excellence to the client.

Phone Courtesy
Do not answer the phone with just a hello. Even if it is your cell phone. Whichever number you give to clients to use is your business number, so always answer it like a business line. Sound cheerful and have a set greeting such as, “Hello, you’ve reached dogma training & pet services. This is Megan speaking, how may I help you?” This provides consistency if you have a team, and only designate team with exceptional client skills and proper phone etiquette to answer the phone. Answer the phone only if you have time to speak with the client. In an ideal world, the client should always hear a live person on the phone, but I know this can be a challenge at certain times. If there is too much noise, you cannot give your full attention due to any type of distraction (for example, we can get very busy during pick up and drop off at our dog daycare), then let it go to voicemail. You are better to return their call when you can listen and have time for the client, then to answer, be distracted or have to tell them you are too busy and need to call them back. The same basic rules apply to phone etiquette; listen, smile and be polite. And always return phone calls in a timely manner. We aim for an hour during business hours, but have at least a 24 hour maximum return time. If you cannot do this, you need to look at solutions to increase your service.

Email Courtesy
First off, always answer emails in a timely fashion. If you do not answer them over holidays or weekends, be sure to communicate that or set up an auto-responder. Aim to always transmit warmth in your emails. Many people feel that communication gets lost in email, but I find it is more often that we do not take the time to extend genuine warmth and sincerity through them. To best describe this, let’s take a look at two examples. These are replies to a client, Anita, who has emailed an inquiry about training their new puppy.

Example 1:
Hello Anita,

We do offer puppy classes. Our Puppy School class starts next Wednesday at 7 pm and runs for one hour a week for six weeks. We will provide socialization exercises and basic training such as sit, coming when called and loose leash walking. You can register for the class by calling us or through our website.

Thank you.

Example 2:

Hello Anita,

Thank you for your email and congratulations on your new puppy! We understand that puppyhood can be a fun but challenging time, so our Puppy School classes are designed to help you teach your dog how to exist in our busy human world and to teach basic manners. We provide excellent socialization opportunities with people, other dogs, objects, noises and a variety of other exercises to help turn your puppy into the confident canine companion you desire. We will also teach basic obedience skills such as sit, coming when called and loose leash walking and help to prevent behaviour problems from developing.

Our entire training team is here to ensure you develop a successful relationship with your dog and we look forward to being a part of this journey. Our Puppy School class starts next Wednesday at 7 pm. The class runs for an hour, every Wednesday, for six consecutive weeks. You can register for the class by calling us at 555-865-0932 or through our website at

Please contact us if you have any further questions and we look forward to meeting you and Bear!

Thank you.

These examples demonstrate that you can extend that same warmth as you can in person. Always try to communicate more in your email exchanges versus just providing the basic information. This applies for all emails, not just when they first contact you. For example, if I had completed a private session with the dog I would start by saying what a pleasure it was to meet them and perhaps something I really enjoyed about the session. These small gestures go a long way in developing client relations. And always reply to emails. Even it if is just a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘you are welcome’ statement.

Social Media Courtesy
The world of social media is still fairly new to many businesses. Read through my post about social media to learn why this is important for today’s business. Social media is an ideal way to improve client relations and promote your business. Do not ignore this area and ensure you are frequently updating and providing your clients with new, engaging and relevant information. Take care to spell names correctly on pictures and to have proper grammar and spelling. Be as professional on your social media as you are in other areas. Social media is a new form of communication, so do not ignore it or put it on the back burner. If a client sends a message through Facebook, then provide a response in a timely fashion and with the same etiquette as you would through an email. Like or reply to client’s comments on Facebook, or mark Tweets and Instagram pictures as favourites. This is a simple way to develop relationships and interact frequently with your clients.

Past First Impressions
Go above and beyond every time you interact with your existing or potential clients. Treat everyone as equals and extend the same courtesy and manners throughout your entire relationship with them. By providing excellence in customer service and just taking those small steps to exude more warmth and a genuine interest, you develop long lasting relationships. The rapport you develop will be crucial in the success they have with their dogs. The more they feel that you care and the more trust the client has in you, the more commitment they will have to the training.

There are so many ways we can provide excellence in customer service through our overall manners. Do you have some other ideas or ways that you do this? Share your thoughts or suggestions below!



Raining Cats and Dogs! How to Manage Being Busy

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An entrepreneur wants to be busy. However, the life of a business owner can be overwhelming and a type of busy like no one else will understand. Managing a heavy workload is challenging and can lead to burnout. Burnout is an entire topic on its own, but it can have devastating effects on you personally and your business. For this post, I wanted to take a more proactive approach to burnout and discuss ways to prevent it by providing tools to ensure you can better manage your busy times. Last year, I reached torrential levels of busy and knew I needed to step back and get things back in balance. This is why I have not had a post since October and during this time I have learned a great deal that I wanted to share for my first post for 2016.

Brain Dump
There may be a more eloquent term for this one, but this is what I do every time I am feeling overwhelmed. And it is literally what it sounds like; I take every idea, task, frustration and item that is overcrowding my brain and I dump it onto paper. I just write it all out and immediately feel better. Every time I feel overwhelmed, like I cannot think clearly, or unorganized, I know it is time for a brain dump. Try it. And do it any way that works best for you; on paper, the computer, napkins or putting notes in your phone. Don’t worry about the hows of this process, just dump your brain!

So many people do a little bit of everything and end up getting nothing done. After you have done your brain dump, walk away and take some time to yourself. When you are ready (and do not wait too long), go back to your brain dump and categorize everything you wrote down. I keep brain dump sheets based on each area of my business. This is where I store all of my ideas and to dos and I add to them every time something new pops into my mind (or put it into my phone until I can transfer it).

I only take items off a brain dump and put them on my task list when they are priority. Most times, we think everything is a priority. But if you are thinking about each and every thing you have to do, you overwhelm yourself. A past business coach taught me to go through and grade my tasks A-D. A’s and B’s can go on your task list, but B’s do not happen until A’s are complete. C’s move onto your task list as you complete items. And D’s are items that can be delegated. If you are feeling more stressed than usual, only put one item on your A list and do not think or do anything else until that item is complete. And do not avoid the tasks you hate the most. Start with those or the most challenging ones and keep the ones you enjoy for later on the list!

Identify Deficiencies
The next step it to identify ways to improve your processes. Are there certain tasks that take far too long and you know there must be a better way? Have you been dreaming of investing in an app that will streamline some of your work? What are you waiting for? If you are feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout, it is time to start to identify deficiencies and create solutions. And if you are not sure what the solutions may be, start asking others in your industry for programs they have used to help them spend their time more effectively. Do not get scared of pricing. Take the time to analyse the cost of these programs and identify the ROI (return on investment) for them.

For example, we had recently identified that scheduling of team was becoming a very long and confusing process that no one enjoyed. Errors were often made and too much time was being spent on something that was a critical, but time consuming task for the business. We looked at a variety of options and the most expensive one provided the best results. We were looking at adding $50 a month to obtain this service, which at first seemed expensive. However, we were able to identify that it would save us up to 20 hours a month, and once we realized that, the $50 cost seemed like a steal.

Create Systems
Streamline and create systems for your business. Even if it is just you right now, it is important that you start to document your processes and create systems. This is a critical part of your growth and will prevent time wasted and being in a panic trying to catch up on this during busy times. We should strive to be more proactive in our business as too many people operate by reacting to day to day occurrences which creates unnecessary stress. By creating systems, you create step by step processes that become habits. And when they become habits, you become faster at getting them done. This also makes training new team much more efficient and enjoyable for all. It also aids in quality control and ensures consistency within your business.

Have a task that you absolutely hate? Is there a part of your business that you will avoid at all costs? Is there an area that is falling far behind and you want nothing to do with? These are all signs that this is something you need to look at outsourcing. Are there certain parts of your business that you know someone could do much better than yourself? Or is there an area you know could be done more professionally and be a better representation of your business than what you are able to do? These are both signs of another task that you should outsource. This follows the same points outlined under the Identify Deficiencies section; think about the ROI on these items and assess if your time is better spent on another area of your business. You only have so many hours in a day and you will see your business grow much further if you can begin to work on it versus in it. Outsourcing is an integral part of business growth and success.

This topic was brought up in a Facebook group I am on and there were some excellent suggestions. A friend mentioned thinking of outsourcing on a personal level as well, which is equally as important, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. This may mean looking at ways you can outsource personal tasks such as hiring a house cleaner, a dog waste pick up company, having your groceries delivered or bringing in a company for yard maintenance. Your time is valuable in your business, but your personal time is as important. Do you want to spend it doing tasks at home that you hate?

Take a Break
And finally, give yourself time off. This seems like the last thing we should do, especially when we can barely think straight because we have too much to do. But you need a clear head. Even if you just give yourself a day to get caught up on some sleep and take care of yourself. Unplug and recharge. And plan vacations. I cringe whenever I hear entrepreneurs bragging about not taking time off and never taking holidays. Do not be proud of this. You are not helping your business when you do not take care of yourself. Stepping away from the business offers you time to reflect and think about it versus becoming absorbed in it. If finances are an issue, take a staycation and get caught up on personal projects, pick up an old hobby and enjoy time with your loved ones. Your business will thank you for it.

Do you have ways you get things back on track when the busyness has caused you to derail? Have you used any specific business apps or programs that helped you better manage your time or run your business? Please share in the comments below or feel free to email me at!

Our Dogma: Streamlining and Creating Systems in your Business

smart dog

We are still developing our employee manual, Our Dogma, as it is a continuing work in progress. It has been a hard balance between being a new and growing business that is just figuring out its processes, and also ensuring we have the procedures in place to ensure things go smoothly. We have experienced great growth over the past few years with the opening of our second location and expansion of our services, but it has been filled with challenges. The majority of these challenges could have been avoided with better documentation of processes. If you are just starting out, save yourself the time and begin documenting all of your processes as you create them. If you have been operating for some time and feel overwhelmed, have challenges holding your team accountable and/or are in the midst of expansion, you must ensure you have your procedures documented.

A good employee manual provides your team with clear instructions on how to complete their job effectively and in an efficient manner. It outlines the day to day operations and also enables seamless training and ensures procedures and processes are available to anyone who may need them. As a small business, we typically have key employees who store a lot of how the day to day operations happen within their own minds ( as business owners we are often the worst for this)! I always think of the what if myself or that person gets hit by a bus? Do we have the documentation in place to seamlessly transfer someone else into that role?

Outlining processes allows you to delegate roles, hold your team accountable to the work they do based on these procedures and helps to ensure things are completed to the standard you set. They should provide clear instruction to avoid confusion and any miscommunication. It also helps with training new team members and keeps everyone on the same page. Your team will appreciate having clear steps and knowing what is expected of them.

The employee manual should provide the history of company, its products and services, the team structure, core values and procedures and processes for all areas. You should include a list of fireable offences and outline the dismissal process. You want to put as much information on the business as possible to avoid miscommunication and keep expectations clear.

I know it is a daunting process, but going through it this past year has taught me a great deal about my business and my team. It has shown me key areas where I can delegate, services or departments that require restructuring, which employees may be struggling or exceling and given me a better understanding of why, and shown me the required organization structure of dogma. A thorough employee manual is also important if you plan to sell or franchise your business.

Growth was excellent for dogma, but also brought on new problems for me. Going though this process is showcasing what I need to develop and what we are doing right. It has also given me better knowledge on how to effectively plan for growth. Having more systems in place and ensuring all operations are documented, will allow for more successful growth in our future.

The end of one year and the beginning of a new year is an exciting time and it should be for all entrepreneurs. Take advantage of the quieter holidays if your company slows down and review your past year. Set goals for the new year and focus on streamlining your business. Do not forget to delegate this to your team! Have them help you by getting them to document their daily duties. This can be a great team building activity. You will see an immediate benefit, and you and your team will be thankful for it!

I am looking at joining a program for further streamlining my business and my role for dogma. If I do, I will share my experiences here!

What benefits have you gained from streamlining your systems or what challenges have you had because things were not well documented? Share any feedback, ideas or stories in the comments below!

Alpha B.I.T.C.H.: Why This Is Not a Bad Term

alpha bitch tiara 

Double standards piss me off. Whether it is the fact that a woman in the same position as a male is paid on average 21% less. Or how a male could be severely punished for a crime he commits, while a female is likely to receive a much lower conviction, if at all. Double standards are everywhere. I’ve experienced double standards numerous times in my business. Whether it was when the bank gave my ex a $45,000 business loan when he had no business plan or financials records. And it took me over $1 million dollars in sales and a solid business plan that was submitted yearly to get basically the same amount. Or how I can give a male advice for his dog and not be taken seriously, but he will walk to the other end of the room and listen to my fiancé Kris give the exact same advice, and then I watch the client apply it with enthusiasm.

I’ve been able to accept and utilize some of this, but it is still happening too often. I’ve been appalled at how poorly people respond to a female that is driven, makes her own decisions and creates her own life. Within this post, I am going to speak more of my own experience, but I see this happening all the time to women everywhere. I’ve even caught myself doing this. This post is not about complaining with what has happened to me personally. I love who I am, what I do and would not trade in any of my experiences as they have shaped who I have become. Instead, I want to share my personal experiences to demonstrate what a struggle we create for each other and the impact our actions can have.

We have created a world where females must conform to society’s rules, and if they do not, they are often ridiculed, judged and gossiped about. In a majority of these same situations, if it had been a male, we would be praising them. Or how a strong woman with fair opinions and assertiveness is viewed as bossy or threatening. While things may be slowly changing, double standards need to end and I am going to share a few ways the exist, what we do to cause them and what we can do to change. I am speaking in terms of female entrepreneurs, but these apply to any female.

Stand by your Decisions
This applies to everyone, but women typically struggle more with this. To make it worse, when they do make a decision, it is almost guaranteed someone will not only judge or criticize it, but also assume it was with ill-intent and they are being bossy, bitchy or any other derogative term we may use to describe a female in this position. Part of being an entrepreneur is making hard decisions. You may have to cut back on costs, end programs, lower wages or let go of team. Or you may have an underperforming employee you need to remove. Or you may need to choose not to implement a new system the team are pushing for. Whatever the reason, you make the decision based on what is best for the business. And this sometimes means that you are making decisions not everyone will understand or you know they will be unhappy with.
Regardless, you made the decision for the overall business. Stand by this decision and remind yourself why you made it. Even when others are jumping to conclusions or providing a different version.

One of my hardest decisions I had to make was to remove one of my longest employees who had become a close friend. I agonized over it for months and provided ample opportunity for this person to improve. I kept everything private, desperately wanted them to succeed and kept modifying their position to help them. After multiple demotions and putting them on final notice the time came to release them. It was becoming unfair to myself, my team and my person and my business was suffering because of it. It was incredibly stressful and took a tremendous toll on me. I then witnessed how many people jumped out to support this person and assume the worst from us. Why would this be? Do you think I would have got the same reaction had I been male? I can’t help but feel that people would not have taken it so personally. There are always things I would change from a hard lesson. But the one main thing I would have done differently would have been to do it sooner. It may have been my hardest one, but it has been my greatest lesson to date. Keep your chin up, ignore the hate and know that it always works out for the best. Stick to it.

The next time you feel the need to judge someone for a decision, trust that this person has good reason for it and it may be information that you are not entitled to. If they have demonstrated that they are intelligent, fair and compassionate, why would we assume the worst? Our world is full of this idea that people are intentionally behaving a way to upset others. Step back and respect people’s decisions and mind your own business.

Stop Apologizing
Once you have made your decision, do not apologize. I think this is something women are far more likely to do, especially if your decision upsets others. Apologizing only makes it looks like you are questioning your decision. You are not sorry for your decision, you are sorry it makes others uncomfortable or upset. And unfortunately, many decisions you are going to have to make will not be good for everyone. Do not focus on the people who may be uncomfortable with it, but rather focus on why you are making the decisions and who it will benefit in the long run. Look at the big picture.

This is very important if you have team. I have high expectations for my team in order for us to deliver the excellence that I have built my business on. I found myself worrying about delivering this message and that perhaps I was expecting too much from others. However, I have built a core team that not only understands and strives to deliver this excellence, they improve upon it and are grateful for the opportunity. I learned to stop apologizing for my expectations and be proud of what I was building. Those expectations are a large part of our success.

I came to the realization that if it were a male who released poor performing team while building a successful business, that people would admire and respect this. They would appreciate that he has built a business based on excellence. Instead, others assume women have done something wrong or call her a bitch.

I have learned to stop apologizing for upsetting others. I realized the people I felt I had to apologize to were the same ones who had caused damage to my business or were not truly supportive. The affect of a negative or poor performing employee affects my entire team, the dogs we care for and our clients. I owe far more to all of them then I do to the one person that this affects negatively. It is ok to make a decision that may upset others if you are taking care of the greater good, have been fair and are not doing anything will ill-intent. You do not need to apologize for it or explain it. We truly do attract what we put out, so remove anything that affects you or your business adversely. Your organization will thrive and grow because of these decisions.

Put on a Brave Face and a Smile
This is the hardest part of being a leader. No matter how worried, angry, resentful or upset you may feel, you must keep your emotions in check. Your behaviour is a direct reflection of your team and your business, and unfortunately, as a female you will have far more critics watching how you behave. The double standard exists and is shown daily through mainstream media and how we respond to females who make mistakes or are struggling. They are called names, ridiculed and worse. If a woman responds to something negatively or with emotion, many are quick to judge as well.

At times, I feel like many people are just waiting for successful people to make a mistake and are actually wanting them to fail. I know this exists for everyone, but there are far more people out to judge females quickly, and unfortunately many of them are other women. So how do you deal with this if you are a female entrepreneur who is feeling judged, criticized or struggling to get through a hard time when you feel everyone is waiting (hoping) for you to trip up? Stand tall, put on your brave face, smile and just keep putting out positivity. Hard times are part of owning a business and be sure you have good support with friends, family, other business owners and/or a mentor. At these times, others are waiting for you to react poorly. Do not stoop to their level, you are better than this. Focus on the good and remind yourself what you did to get here. This too shall pass and you want others to remember how well you handled it, even if you are terrified on the inside or desperately wanting to lash out.

Do What Makes YOU Happy
Life is short. Do what you love and do what makes you happy. I had many nay-sayers when I first set out to open dogma. People were unsure of the business model and felt like I was taking on too much. I observed many people who were miserable in their current work and very unhappy with life. I did not want this and knew that in order for me to avoid this I needed to be responsible for my future. So, I set out to do what made me happy, not what society told me to do.

Safety is not about conforming to expectations. I was unhappy in a marriage so I ended it. And it was incredibly hard and stressful. However, I received little support and struggled to understand why. Looking back, people can be uncomfortable when others make decisions to make themselves happy. And yes, these decisions may hurt people, but as long as you know it is the best for everyone and can sleep well at night, life is too short not to make these decisions. And this is harder on women as we are still expected to take care of others first. Remember that taking care of yourself and making yourself happy is what allows you to do more for others. Surround yourself with people that understand this.

Support Others
Ladies, we can be the worst for not doing this for each other. Supporting, encouraging and celebrating others successes is the best way to destroy the double standard. Respect and trust others decisions. Be proud of the females that are making changes and being successful. I cringe at how often females assume the worst in other females. It has been disheartening to see how my relationships have changed as I have experienced more success. It has been one of my hardest lessons and I want to ensure we change this.

Give females the same level of respect and admiration we give males. If she is running a successful business and removes an employee, it is because the employee was not a good fit for the business, not because she is a bitch. If there is gossip about her and/or her business that seem untrue or unlike what they or their business is built on, let’s not contribute and participate in this negativity. Let’s instead recognize her high standards and be proud of her for building a successful business. And if she is successful and doing well, let’s celebrate that and commend her for it. We are all human. We are all doing the best with what we have. Women, let’s stop contributing to the double standard and support each other. We still have a lot to offer, are changing the world and our daughters of the future deserve better.

Have other examples or experiences to share? Feel strongly about this and just need to vent? Be sure to comment below.

Does this strike a chord with you and you want to see it change? Follow the above and please share and spread the word. Let’s show the world what a powerful force we are when we all work together.


Pick of the Litter: 10 Traits that Identify your Star Employees

smart dog

We have all heard how important it is for a business owner to work on their business versus in their business. A large part of this transition is team development so that you can delegate the areas of your job that are no longer vital to your role. Many entrepreneurs struggle to delegate. Not because they do not want to lessen their work load and focus on business growth, but because the company has become their baby so they need to trust that others will take care of it, nurture it and provide the same level of commitment as they have. The first step of transitioning to working on your business is to identify your star employees. These are the ones who will take on important roles within your company and help it grow. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they will help take your business to that next level. I am going to discuss some key factors to help you identify who these team members are.

They Believe in your Why
If you have not read Start with Why by Simon Sinek, I highly recommend you add it to your reading list. You can also watch his Ted Talk for a summary of this inspiring concept. Your team must believe in your why ; the reason you started your business.  But a star employee is the one who is inspired by it, communicates it and lives the why. They want to be part of your movement and are motivated to help the business achieve great things in the name of your why.

They match your core values
Core values are the underlying beliefs of an individual or organization. I wrote another post on core values and their impact on your business and team. For many years of my business, the only team we let go were team that ultimately did not match our core values. Core values are the heart and soul of your business and they represent you. For example, I consider a positive attitude a necessity in today’s world, but also a requirement to work with my business. Negativity affects the entire team, so when we identify this in an employee, we know they are not a good fit within our business. Your star employees will embody all of your core values and consider them a critical part of the business and their own lives.

They look for solutions, not problems
This is a trait of a true leader! These are unique individuals that can not only identify a problem, but they also immediately look for solutions. They do not complain about what is, but rather begin to create what could be. They do not dwell on mistakes or challenges, but instead get right to determining the best way to address the problem. They are invested in the business, are motivated to see it succeed and will get right in to help it grow.

They pitch in
A star employee is always happy to help out. They do not wait to be directed, but will jump right in if they see a team member or client in need. They have exceptional work ethic and want to be kept busy. They are the first to start work on a new project and are typically always asking others if they need help. No job is below them and they make exceptional leaders as they work with team versus just telling others what to do.

They want everyone to succeed
A great leader understands that we accomplish far more as a team than we will as individuals. It is not about taking all of the credit and glory. They know that true success comes from a powerful team effort. They encourage everyone and celebrate each person’s successes. They are not threatened nor show envy towards fellow team members. A star employee does not get caught up in gossip and sees the strengths and value of each of their fellow team.

They demonstrate initiative
You will never find a star employee sitting around waiting for direction or a task. They want to be kept busy and will aim to find the most efficient and effective way to complete their work. If they require a skill or information for a task, they will seek it out on their own instead of waiting for it to come to them. They are the go-getters and true initiative stands out amongst a team.

They excel with communication
Too many problems and conflicts could be prevented with improved communication. This individual understands this and has exceptional communication with both team and clients. They ensure communication is open and effective so that everything runs smoothly. They are also great at communicating their concerns so that they may find solutions. They tend to thrive because they do not keep things bottled up and suppressed, so they can resolve concerns instead of building resentment towards the team and/or business.

They are well-liked
Even if they have to make tough decisions that may not be well-received by the team, or delegate unfavourable tasks to team, or even if they have conflict with a team member, they will remain well-liked by the team. This is because they are fair, want others to succeed and have excellent communication. They are positive and that attitude is infectious to the team. A great leader treats everyone with respect, so earns that respect back.

They can make, or stand behind, tough decisions
Every business is faced with difficult decisions. These are especially hard if you know they will not be well-received by the team but are necessary for the business.  It is during these times that your star employees will really shine. They will ask for clarification, express their concerns, but also communicate their support. An exceptional employee will express sympathy for you having to make this decision. If they do not agree, they can express this in a non-confrontational way, and present it to their team in a way that demonstrates full support for the decision.

They welcome coaching
Coaching could be positive feedback or constructive criticism. When a star employee receives positive feedback they are always gracious and modest about it. They appreciate the feedback, but it never goes to their head. And if they are provided with constructive criticism, they welcome it. They want to understand how they can do better and do not take this personally. These ones are hard to find, so if you have this, be sure to do what is needed to retain this team member. They will understand change and step up to any challenges as they are always looking to improve.

This is just a short list of traits that you should identify in your team when you are looking for tomorrow’s leaders. Do not wait until a burst of growth to start filling roles. Map out the future of your business, the roles that will develop and the requirements of these roles. Track your employees and watch for when they demonstrate leadership qualities. Observe them during times of stress or changes, how they interact with team, and gauge how they respond to new responsibilities and problems. Measure their performance in these areas and start to nurture their growth. These are your leaders that will take your business to greatness. Invest in them today for greater results tomorrow.


Do you have other traits you consider important for leadership roles on your team? What have your experiences been with promoting team into leadership roles? What challenges or successes have you seen? Please share in the comments below or email me at!