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!

Raining Cats and Dogs! How to Manage Being Busy

dog outside umbrella small

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!

Dog Years: My Story

first open

Like so many of us, I dreamed of owning a business at a young age. I wouldn’t say I was business savvy as a child, but I knew I was going to forge my own path. I was lucky to land a decent job while I was in high school. Actually, I shouldn’t say that as I hate it when people say I am lucky to be where I am. I was a good student and was recommended by the teacher when the employer called the school looking for a student for part-time data entry work. I worked for an amazing man who quickly become my business mentor. Ron always valued my opinion, coached me and kept me in the loop of business decisions despite my young age. He started my involvement in the IT world and guided my decision away from vet school. He saw something in me and I know it was hard when I left to go. It wasn’t until many years later when I opened dogma that I realized how much he truly taught me.

I took a program in ecommerce and started a career in software development. I did not enjoy it. It was challenging, but it was the same routine and underwhelming with no creativity. I started my first company, Webnology, and offered web development services for small businesses. I started with a partner and she left after our very first project when the client was late paying. She did not want to leave the security of a full time job. I was disappointed, but this ended up being the best thing for me. Suddenly I needed to do things on my own. I started attending business networking events and launched a successful business.

I always wanted to work with animals, but vet medicine was not for me. I decided to begin volunteering at our local humane society and my life path launched into working with dogs. What an amazing feeling when you recognize your true passion. I could not get enough learning, experience and work with dogs. I took any job with dogs I could find and volunteered as often as possible. I slowly began to transition from the high paying world of web design and took jobs making $7.50/hour, excited for the opportunity to work with dogs. I realized that life was way too short to work to live. I wanted to do what I loved and knew I could do it well. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I had a vision, wanted to get my experience to certify as a trainer, and I took every naysayer as motivation to prove I could reach my goals.

 second open

I incorporated dogma in 2006 and opened my first dog daycare and boarding facility in Calgary in 2008. I now have 2 locations, over 20 staff, see an average of 120 dogs/day between both facilities and run 30+ classes a week. We do private and group training, offer dog daycare, specialized puppy programs and a dog training apprenticeship program which has seen over 40 active graduates enter the dog training industry! We have set the standard in dog care and I am proud of what I have created. Like all of us entrepreneurs, it has been quite a journey; full of struggles, lessons, joys, despair, loneliness, strength, inspiration and wonders.

My goals?

To build a community of support. As an entrepreneur friends and family will never truly understand your struggles and accomplishments. If you just need affirmation, need help with a specific topic or want to know you are not alone, I want this blog to help. I believe we have specific challenges as female entrepreneurs, but also have specific traits that provide us with unique skillsets to enable tremendous success. We must learn to build each other up, learn and support each other and work together. Strength is in numbers. I want us to lead by example and encourage young females to live their dreams.

On a personal level I am fighting for the proper and humane treatment of animals, specifically dogs. I devote my time to educating dog owners, animal rescues, dog trainers and professionals who work with dogs. Some facilities are being run where dogs have died, or being hurt or traumatized. Training classes can be based entirely on fear and intimidation. So many animals live under extreme stress and fear. We can do more. We need to empathize better with the animals on our planet. This is one fight I will not stop.