Do you remember what you thought when you got your first job in the pet industry? If you're like me, you might have thought, "wow, I get to work with animals (and/or the products that give them a happy and healthy life) all day and get paid for it?"
For animal lovers, the pet industry seems like a haven; the perfect opportunity to get paid for work that is not only helping others bond with their pets, but is also fulfilling that moral obligation to do good in the world. Whether you own an independent pet shop and know your customer's pets by name or spend time in an office selecting pet products to sell in stores during the upcoming season, you have the satisfaction of knowing you're helping some dog, cat, or rabbit live a better life.
While that all sounds well and good, too often do we get mixed up in the day-to-day tasks of running a successful business (these are businesses, after all, and like others, they need to make money to stay afloat). We find ourselves caught up in negotiating prices for the highest margin, choosing products that won't collect dust on the shelves, and identifying which dog food brand has had the least amount of recalls.
When the holidays come around, the craziness is taken to a whole other level: employees need time off to spend time with family, traffic gets worse and worse every day, and customers seem to be less than excited to make their obligatory stop to the pet store to pick up their week's worth of dog food.
Because of all this chaos, it's more important than ever to take a moment to stop and remember why we're in the pet industry in the first place. For many of us, we're here because we want to be. We could work for a bank, sell real estate, or own a tire shop; but we don't. We work in the pet industry and there's a reason for that.
For those days that are less than motivating - when Fido pees on your store's floor again and there's no one else to clean it up, or when your vendor just won't budge on the extra $2 you need knocked off the price of dog food - here's what you can to do stay inspired by the pet industry.
1. Create a community of like-minded pet professionals
Whether you start a Facebook Group with 10-30 pet pros in your field or create a monthly get-together for pet lovers in your area, getting together with people in your field is a great way to stay inspired. Find people who you don't work with on a daily basis and who understand the struggles you're facing in your business for a greater chance of success.
2. Don't be the smartest person in the room
Whether you start a community, join one, or just have a conversation with pet professionals at an event, always make sure you're not the smartest person in the room. Surrounding yourself with others who know more, or just different, things will allow you to grow both personally and professionally and take that knowledge back to your day-to-day routine. Not only will this help you work smarter, but it may also spark a note of inspiration in you that you haven't seen before.
3. Get out of the comparison trap
With the growth of social media and the Internet in general, it's too easy to find yourself lost for minutes or hours scrolling down the news feed and picking out everything everyone else is doing better than you. This practice can easily turn into a game of "who's better than me?"
While understanding your competition is a good thing, you should only be asking yourself, "that's a good idea, how can I do this better?" In other words, if you're not inspired to grow from their success and instead turn into "why should I even do this if they're doing it better already?", then you're in a dangerous zone that you need to get out of immediately. Limit the time you spend looking at how others are doing things online and off, and instead focus on how you can improve your own business.
4. Reconnect with your passion for pets
As we said before; you're in the pet industry for a reason. What brought you here? What brings you the most excitement and passion about the industry? For example, are you passionate about educating pet parents about high quality pet food? Or do you just love having your customers bring their furries to the store as they do their shopping?
Identify what it is that brought you here in the first place, and find ways to incorporate that in your daily routine. This way, you remind yourself that you're here for a reason. Additionally, your business will thrive under the passion you give to it under your newly-found inspiration.
5. Do it for the ANimals
You don't need to read five articles on the humanization of pets in order to know that the human-animal bond is getting stronger than ever. Today, pets are more than just the animals we feed and clean up after; they're a part of the family. Not only are people spending more on their pets, but they're also spending more time with them.
Get out of your regular space and watch how pets and their owners react to each other outside of the retail landscape. If this doesn't re-inspire you to do it for the pets, then I'm not sure what will.
How do you find inspiration and motivation in your pet business? If not with one of these techniques, what works best for you? Share in the comments so that other pet industry professionals can learn from your experiences!
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Ashley Hoffmanis a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her two cats (Kitty and Chewbacca), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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