Mary’s Musings
5 Important Business Lessons Learned
by Mary Oquendo
No one was more surprised than myself when I quit my job and put a deposit down on a mobile grooming van in 2001. But, what I had really done, was make my first decisive business decision.

In the early 2000s, mobile grooming was a young industry with no success stories…yet. I had no ones’ experience to draw from and knew next to nothing about starting or running a business. What I did have going for me was motivation, excitement and a willingness to learn.

As I look back over the years, I can identify some traits that contributed to the success of my business; some of these traits were a natural gift, but many others were a learned skill. Here are five of my business lessons:

Be responsible for your attitude.

Blaming others or circumstances will not solve the problem. Viewing setbacks as an opportunity to find a solution is a necessary business skill. It is easier to act rather than react if I take the time to plan a business manual that outlines policies and procedures with checklists for probable problems.

I also realized that I will not be everyone’s cup of tea and have developed thicker skin when dealing with unhappy clients. When I demonstrate excitement about my business, that positive attitude is infectious. I cannot expect those around me to be excited about being my client if they see I am unhappy. I am always exuberant about collecting a pet, even if I’m having a bad day.

I fully recognize that I am a pet groomer. There is nothing extraordinary about my grooming skills, but the pets are always clean and cute. I’ve had clients flat out tell me they’ve had better grooms, but couldn’t imagine anyone else taking care of their pet.

Make decisions—right or wrong.

Right decisions will propel me forward and wrong decisions will teach me a lesson. Remember that roads are littered with dead squirrels who couldn’t make a decision to move faster or stay in place. The more you practice making quick, decisive decisions, the better you will get at making them.

I take the time to understand my strengths and weaknesses. I build on my strengths and hire out or learn to circumvent my weaknesses. I understand that I do not have to do everything and can delegate responsibility whenever feasible. Right from the start, I hired a CPA to do my taxes because I didn’t want to spend the time doing them or learning anything about how to do them myself.

Seek help from those who are more knowledgeable when necessary.

I currently have two coaches. They help me with different aspects of my business. They shorten my learning curve, allowing me to reach my full financial potential so much faster. I spend hundreds of hours every year between online education and attending in-person trade shows. They each offer different benefits. One is not better than the other. I budget and price my services to include continuing education.

Have clearly defined visions and goals.

Uncertainty is also contagious. If I can’t visualize where I want my business to go, then creativity and imagination dry up. Perseverance is difficult when you don’t know what direction to go in. I take the time to organize every aspect of my business and make an operating manual; something that I can refer back to whenever I feel a little stuck and need guidance.

Organization is a skill I needed to learn, as my natural inclination is chaos. It took me awhile to figure out the organization method that was best for me, so don’t give up if you have a hard time finding what works for you. When you figure out what works best for you, I guarantee it is life-changing.

Operate your business fairly and with integrity.

I am fair to my clients, as well as myself. I design and enforce policies and procedures that work for me, and they protect my business. I also acknowledge that not every pet is a good fit for me.

I had an arrangement with several local groomers where I would send dogs that required breed trims to them, and they would send their seniors and cats to me. Clients got a groomer that was more suited to their needs, and we got clients that were a better fit for us.

For best results, repeat daily.

My business could not have thrived in the manner that it did and then transition to another business model without implementing these lessons over and over again.