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!

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.


Possession Aggression: Coping with Competition Stealing your Work


I began thinking about this topic last night while watching an episode of Better Call Saul, where he was intentionally copying a competitor. It was a humorous show, but it brought up my past feelings of having this happen to me. For any entrepreneur, having your work and/or ideas stolen is going to happen at some point in your career. In my experience, the more successful you become, the more you are copied. I feel like this is harder for women and seems to happen more. I am not sure if it actually does happen more to women or perhaps just that we discuss it more and  that I have more female business owners as acquaintances versus males. However, it is frustrating and can make us want to act out. I am here to tell you not to. As difficult as it may be, imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery. It may not feel that way, but in this post I am going to talk about how to handle it and why it is happening.

How it feels
It feels like what I imagine possession aggression would feel like for a dog; a flood of anger and wanting to reclaim the item as your own. One of my first experiences with this was when I was browsing competitors’ websites online and found our identical rates content on a local competitor’s page. This information belonged to me. I first felt angry and betrayed by this person, but was honestly more shocked at how blatantly obvious it was that this person had just copied directly from me. And in some other situations, I have even felt threatened. I thought about what type of person actually does this? And as I was to learn; many people do and it will continue to surprise you who will. I have gained better coping skills, but have consistently felt disappointment and frustration each time this happens. And many times, I have felt incredibly hurt.

What to do
Nothing. I know, this does not feel like the right answer, does it? What if I told you to feel proud of yourself instead? When someone else has copied you, whether it be your content, a service offering or any part of your business, it indicates that you are a leader in your field and that others are aspiring to build their business up like your organization. You are doing something right and others are recognizing this and wanting to emulate what you have created. And that is something to be very proud of.

However, there may be more serious situations that involve a response, including legal representation. I have known people who have had full articles duplicated, images stolen and exact programs replicated. We had a past student use our tag line for their business, and although we did not have it trademarked, we did contact them asking them to remove it. Which they did and apologized for using it. However, not everyone will respond this way, but this person must not have expected us to see this and they were (and should have been!) quite embarrassed by it.

In our most serious case, I did get our lawyer involved. We had a local not-for-profit group successfully complete our dog trainer apprenticeship program, only to launch an identical program within months of graduating ours. We were the only ones in Canada to offer a program like this and they copied the entire outline and content of our program. This one really hurt. I had spent years helping this organization and sharing the information and I was angry. We do have a copyright on the program, but my lawyer advised me that these laws do not do well at protecting us and it would be a potentially costly and long battle ahead. I contemplated enrolling someone in the program to gain access to the materials and was faced with a rush of different ideas on how to handle it. In the end, I tried to reason with the organization and come to a compromise, with no success. I had never spent the amount of time I poured into this program on anything else, and was left feeling resentful and almost ended the program.

Looking back I may have fought more, but I was in the process of opening our second location. I just did not have the energy, time or funds to pursue it. My lessons learned were how to further protect myself and learning more about copyrights and intellectual property. Although, I am disappointed at how little protection there is out there, you can find some great resources and ways to protect yourself in Canada here.

My lessons learned
I learned some valuable lessons outside of just how to protect myself and a lot of good has come from these negative situations. I know it is not an easy process, but I hope that if you are faced with this in your future, that you can remember these three lessons to help get you through or avoid the feelings of anger, frustration and hurt.

1. Put on your blinders
Stop paying attention to what others are doing. Put your blinders on and focus on your own work. Pursue all of your crazy, wonderful ideas and utilize your increased focus to put a plan in place and get them started. Stay off competitor’s websites and social media and pay attention to what you are doing. Keep focused on yourself and enjoy the positive energy and output you will receive by doing this.

2. Support each other
Too often we keep to ourselves and try to hoard all of our ideas and thoughts. Get out and join associations or networking events to meet other like-minded business owners. Celebrate the successes of your competition and find ways to support each other. Their success does not mean you will not find success yourself. The more positive feedback you put out into the world, the more you will receive. Open yourself up to this and immediately start receiving the benefits. Women need to do a better job at supporting each other and being proud of each other for our individual successes. What a powerful group we are and what amazing things we can accomplish when we work together.

3. Believe in yourself and karma
You can do amazing things, and if others are copying you, it means you are already doing so. You are the one with the passion, the drive, the positive energy and everything else that is creating your business. If someone else is copying something, they are missing all of that, so will never gain the success you have. They are missing the most important part: you. Know that karma is a powerful tool and as long as you focus on the right things and strive to make a change in the world, that the universe is going to help you accomplish that. Those who steal and copy are creating negativity for themselves, and in turn, that’s what they will receive. Forget about them and just know that karma will handle them for you :).

What have you experienced in your business in regards to possession aggression? What helps get you through this? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Dog Years: My Story

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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.