Is your business going to the dogs? I hope so.

 

Successful entrepreneurs learn lesson wherever they can.

 

Last week, I explored lessons from my canine mentors. This week, I realized that I hadn’t covered all of them. Here are more tips from these entrepreneurial-minded beasts.

Create conditions that make it easier for you to succeed.

When I agreed to watch my sister’s dogs for a week, I had to think about how I could be a helpful little sister without burdening myself.

Barbara had suggested I could simply go over to her house periodically to feed the dogs and let them go outside. While this sounded reasonable on the surface (we only live about three blocks apart), I realized that this stop-and-go activity would distract and aggravate me when I was trying to work.

So I told her I’d keep the beasties with me at my own house. This way I actually had fewer tasks to forget (because why would I remember to feed a dog that was in a whole different house?), and I could feel good about giving them the attention they deserved.

 

What can you do to set yourself up for success, start to finish?

 

When it comes to business activities, you get to do the same thing: create conditions that will support your productivity and avoid those that will trash it.

While this is sometimes easier said than done, it will be absolutely worth the effort.

Be flexible and open-minded.

I had identified a topic for last week’s blog, but I was really struggling with it; I kept writing a few lines, then deleting them because they were totally lame.

Then I realized that I had a lot more to say about having survived a week of puppy-sitting than I did (at least at that moment) about my chosen topic.

So I intentionally switched gears to address the new topic. I basically allowed myself to create conditions for success (see today’s lesson number one) by not insisting that I follow a plan that wasn’t working out well.

Of course, the challenge every entrepreneur faces is to keep tabs on herself, so that “flexibility” doesn’t subtly change into wishy-washiness, lack of commitment, or lack of follow-through.

Finish!

Once my job was finished, and Barbara’s dogs were back at home, I realized I was practically prancing around my office because I felt so much lighter. I even heard myself talking to my own dog, Barkley, rhapsodizing about how good it felt to be back to just the two of us.

In fact, my energy and my spirits were so much higher that my creativity got a huge boost. I’m convinced that having fulfilled my puppy-sitting obligation was the reason I effortlessly thought up the new blog topic and easily wrote the post.

Finishing any project or task typically frees up an amazing amount of energy which you can then devote to some other wonderful activity.

In addition, finishing the entire job can help you avoid potential problems.

I realized – almost the hard way – that dropping the guest dogs off wasn’t quite the end of things. Lexi and Emma had both left momentos of themselves in the form of vast clouds of dog hair. I’d managed to ignore these clouds while the dogs were here, but when I skidded on a clump of dog hair and almost crashed to the floor, I realized the truth of the somewhat crass saying that “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

Just because a job is mostly done, it doesn’t mean that you’re done. While you certainly don’t want to get obsessive and strive for perfection in what you produce, you don’t want to go to the opposite extreme and declare something to be “good enough” when you haven’t given it your very best effort.

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When have you created problems for yourself by not creating conditions that enable you to do your best work? By being inflexible? By stopping short of the finish line? What did you do to recover from them?

(BTW, thanks to Mogesh Mhatre for posting the image of his smart canine in Flickr.)

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