As many of our Contributors know, our animals Archie (the big greyhound cross ridgeback galoot)…
Five Things I’ve Learned From Our Cat Lik That Help Me in My Business
My previous Smallville article was about five things I’ve learnt from our big dog Archie that help me in business. Because the cat hasn’t talked to me since, it’s her turn. Here’s five things I’ve learned from our cat Lik.
We all know curiosity is a defining feature of cats. Open a cupboard and Lik will disappear into it. Open a box – same thing. Buy some new furniture, clothes, or really just about anything and it undergoes immediate and thorough inspection.
This is a great lesson for business owners. We all have things to learn. I always make an effort to find out as much as I can about whatever is going on in my business and industry. I never assume anything. If you don’t know something, don’t guess – find out.
Curiosity and caution are an interesting mix, and Lik has them both. While she’ll always investigate anything new, she does so very carefully. A new box requires a few laps before she climbs in. The shopping requires a great deal of sniffing before she jumps in the middle of it.
There are times in business to be bold and times to be cautious. Offering a new product? Test it on five clients you know well at a reduced rate before putting it out into the world. Trying a new supplier? Give them a small project that has lots of lead time in case things go wrong, not the high-pressure million-dollar project that will cause your client to hunt you down if it all goes south.
Cats are awesome at this. They play when they want. Sleep when they want. Take your seat on the couch when they want. Sit on your keyboard when they want. And all while looking down their noses at you.
This has been a great lesson for me in business. Rather than trying to anticipate what everybody else wants or behaving how you think you ‘should’ behave, just be yourself. For example, when we implemented a system of a 30-minute discovery call with potential clients a few years ago, I was worried about trying to be a ‘salesperson’. Believe me, a salesperson I ain’t. After the first few calls, I realised the best approach was just to be myself. Now I use this call to find out about people’s books and what services they need, to give them heaps of useful info, and to explain the process to them. There’s no ‘selling’ at all. And we have an excellent conversion rate from those calls.
Sleep is important.
It’s a safe bet that at any given time Lik will be in one of her many sleeping spots around the house. (She’s asleep on my desk as I write this.) This is a great reminder for me. Like so many small business owners, it’s tempting to ‘just do another hour’ after dinner, which turns into four as you become caught up in the work. Working hard is vital to success in small business, but we often have to remind ourselves that rest is also important. If you’ve been pushing a bit too hard, two hours of extra sleep will benefit your business more than two extra hours at your desk.
Be quietly confident.
Cats have a quiet calm that is a huge contrast to the bouncy exuberance of a dog. Lik is the boss around here and she knows it. The dog weighs 30 kilos more than she does but he won’t mess with her if she’s grumpy. And it’s not just about the claws – it’s about the attitude.
Quiet confidence is a great attribute for a small business owner. Are you good at what you do? Really good? I’m sure you are or you wouldn’t have braved small business. So, own it. It’s not about being brash or shouting from the rooftops. It’s about owning your skills, your expertise and your experience. Talk to your clients confidently as the expert, because you are. Put your hand up for big opportunities. Don’t stand in the corner and watch somebody else take deals that could be yours if you put yourself out there. I’m not going to meet many people who know more about self-publishing for small business than I do. Just acknowledging this for myself helps to push me forward. It gives me the confidence to jump at opportunities when they appear.
Cautiously, of course.
If you have a cat I’m sure some of these are familiar. I’d love to hear your stories. Post them in the comments below!
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