Being an Entrepreneur or Business Owner can be a lonely old road and sometimes other business owners can be right assholes too, so what should you do if you find yourself being targeted?
Read on and see how I’ve coped with professional jealousy and other issues during the past decade.
Over the past 10 years I have watched (mostly in horror) as the professional dog walking sector has grown quite significantly in my area.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some healthy competition, it keeps us on our toes, reminding us to be the best we possibly can be and it provides an element of choice for customers.
Today what has materialised however is a form of toxic competitiveness, which is not only damaging to the industry as a whole but also to people like myself who have been doing this job for many years, have made it our lives and have gone about building our businesses the correct way, with love, training, gaining qualifications and experience.
Unfortunately, Glasgow has no governing body or regulations for professional dog walkers, therefore the sector is self regulated.
To quote the Zingzillas: “It’s a disaster!”
We have a host of new “shiny van” dog walkers who seem to think what all you require to start trading is a love of dogs (and a shiny van), of course this is a fundamental factor but if there are no qualifications or experience to back this up, then we are headed for trouble.
In these days of austerity, everyone is looking for the cheapest price and very often we forget the mantra that “cheapest isn’t always best” and so, we get what we pay for.
If someone is charging minimal price, that’s the service your poor dog can expect.
The charge cheap and pack em’ high model seems to be what is favoured with many new companies today and for those who don’t make it that way, it can be dangerous for the old guard as we become victims of professional jealousy or are used as springboard platforms by potential new businesses.
Personally I have been victim of professional jealousy many times, where I’ve seen other dog walkers comment complete untruths not only about my business but about me personally.
Some of these people I’ve never even met or spoken to, however because their best friend’s auntie’s goldfish said so, then it must be true!
I’ve had visits from the Police and SSPCA following bogus reports and in the past 10 years I’ve had 4 staff members leave to set up their own businesses and poach my clients, all with a flurry of misplaced sense of hard done by attitudes and countless untruths to customers to persuade them to go with.
You see when running a small dog walking business, people think that it will quite literally be a walk in the park, so when it becomes evident that actually it can be the most stressful job ever and hard work is required, that’s when the grumbles and pissing about starts.
My business is my life, so my team in the past were working on my reputation, good will and bloody hard work, not to mention the tens of thousands of pounds invested.
When someone attempts to take the piss, I don’t suffer fools gladly.
When you are seen as the loving Mum and Wife as your team spend a lot of time with you, when ass kicking needs to be done, sometimes this can come as a bit of a shock.
People expect due to your soft nature that you’ll simply accept shoddy work or them trying to walk over you. This is exactly the situation I have come up against a few times.
I have not let this deter me in my mission to be the best that I can and provide the best service to my customers.
To retaliate with online slagging matches would take up precious time and energy that I need to enhance my business or spend with my kids.
These are my priorities, idiots who slag others off eventually become found out.
I always try to take it as a compliment, if people want to talk about me.
At the end of the day, if they have time to be going in to so called “professional” online forums or contact authorities to create drama, then I’m comfortable that they are not really doing that great in business anyway.
If you’re shouting the loudest then you certainly have more time than you need on your hands!
Don’t get me wrong, for a long time I let this sort of thing get me down, so far as to say my mental health was a rock bottom.
Following a particularly sterling effort from the last person I will ever employ as a dog walker to damage my reputation and my business, I did make an attempt on my own life.
Employing staff was not always a nightmare, I did encounter a couple of gems but with everything people have their own lives and goals and so when the time came to move on, it was sad but that’s just what happens.
I have dug deep, I have worked on my own mental resilience, my health and my boundaries.
I’ve reworked my business and it is now just me at the coal face with a few professional advisors assisting in the background. This works best for me and my family.
It has not been an easy road, however I keep my “why” (my family) at the forefront of my mind at all times and I work hard on my own business.
I won’t stop being me, I am generous, kind and caring, so it is my nature to want to help others, especially those in business but I do keep my boundaries healthy in order to keep myself safe.
Mental resilience is important as when bad things happen we tend to question ourselves and our abilities but mostly it’s not us that is the problem.
Those who try to bully or sabotage us are usually uncomfortable in their own skin, which is why they project onto others.
So, if you are having a hard time be it with employees, other business owners or bullies, know that you have the reserves within you to get through the tough times.
If your customers are happy, you are doing a great job.
Then work out if you need to shed the dead wood or toxic people and from here you will know what path you need to take.
Focus on yourself, your business and keeping these happy and safe.
Let the naysayers talk and make a fool of themselves, your success will do your talking for you.
Don’t forget that you are never alone, if you need to mull over anything business wise, I have good listening ears!
See you on the next Blog