Can A Family & Business Expand. Together? How One Entrepreneur Did It

#MomsStartingStuff #MomsGetEntrepeneurial #OperationalBrilliance

In the past 5 years, Elizabeth Staples married, opened a second location for her company, moved twice and had 3 children.

Making big changes at home, while running a growing business, is a beautiful thing! Scaling is an essential part of success and increased profitability. It involves finding the right things to keep or discard, outsource or insource, and then adjusting. Often. The default, for most Moms, is to ‘handle’ everything. Personally. It starts from an honorable place, however, it’s lack of scalability becomes limiting.

Whether it’s tiring of the (long) wait for the C-Suite or seeking greater control, 40% of new entrepreneurs in the US are now women. According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Start-Up Activity, an all-time high.

Elizabeth demonstrates with the right mindset, team and plan — finding the winning model is doable while raising little ones.

Where Did The Idea Come From?

Why this business? “I wanted a dog as a kid and my mom said no. So I went to work for a kennel after school…I could be around a million dogs and get paid for it.” Elizabeth said. I laughed, wise even as a teen! As she learned the business, she tuned into trends affecting the industry. Off-leash care (known as doggie day care) was growing and most were family businesses.

“Sometimes people start a business like this because they enjoy playing with dogs. I learned I like the behind the scenes work – managing the operation and interacting with people.” She explained. Many entrepreneurs start from a passion place, however moving from ‘loving X’ to ‘owning a business about X’, requires different skills.

Getting Started And Building The Right Team

She detoured to work for a large financial services firm after kennels. Although she enjoyed that work, her focus remained on business ownership. “The stability of the full-time paycheck allowed me to begin launching my business.” Elizabeth figured out how to get funding for the idea and hired a groomer friend to work there most of the day.  She explained, “I would be onsite before and after work.”

She was married a couple of years after starting the business, “My husband brought certain skills into the mix.”  He became her Director of Operations. Elizabeth said, “At this point, I started to really look at my strengths…what he did better and how I needed other people on the team to complement me.”

Getting Comfortable With Delegation 

When her first child was born, Elizabeth had to shift her schedule and spend less time working, she admitted, “That wasn’t easy for me.” As she delegated responsibilities, at first she’d think, “Wait…that’s not how I would have done it.”

She built a thriving local business by attending to the right details. Creating a winning infrastructure and customer experience requires trial, error and perhaps a little magic.

She’s built a reliable team. “…I can communicate the business vision and they can execute on that in their own way. For us, that’s being the most trusted ‘home away from home’ to leave your dog.”

Intention And Focus

“I always intended to have a business that scales…to multiple locations and (for me) not needing to be onsite all of the time.” Elizabeth added, she had to let things go as the business grew and her life changed. It also took time to adjust, “One day I came in and the flowers in the planters out front were dead. I reminded myself the dogs were alive and that’s what mattered.” Why yes!

She began to codify policies and procedures, making it easy to scale the business. She said, “…if someone wanted to open this business two states away, I want the procedures in place to enable that.”

Life Hacks To Make Space

Predictably, I wanted to understand the ‘how’, because what she’s doing is quite remarkable.  I knew that taking her concept and expanding it, so quickly while her family grows, involves a lot of clever systems to make things work.

Childcare

Her mother watches her kids a couple of days per week, “So that’s two 6 to 8 hour stretches where I know I can work without interruption.” She added, “Flexibility to work from home is also huge. When my Mom takes the girls I often use that time to catch up on things where it’s quiet.”

On a weekend, sometimes her husband will take the kids for several hours, giving her time alone to get things done.

Self-Care & Priorities

She gets up early everyday and gets in a good workout. “I love kettle bells. Although I could do it at home, I maintain the discipline of going to a real gym, to physically get out of the house. Routine and consistency have always been big for me.”  I nodded, habits save precious mental energy for everything else. “I want to model being healthy and strong. Taking care of dogs is a very physical business and maintaining good health is important.”

She also prioritizes time with her friends and is thoughtful about how she spends her time. “I’ve also let things go…I realized I haven’t had my haircut in a year. But I go to acupuncture every other week.” At the time I interviewed Elizabeth she was within weeks of having her third baby!

Can Do Attitude

“You can’t be afraid of things you don’t know…you don’t know what you don’t know!” She said, an important reminder in business and in life. She added, “I was afraid of what an attorney was going to cost, but knew I needed one. I needed to have that candid conversation and trust that I would figure it out. (You have to)…hire people to complement you…”

When I asked ‘what’s next?’ she laughed, “Maybe take it slower with the third child…Or maybe we take some (time for a) vacation!” After pausing, she added, “Perhaps own our real estate…” She said it’s something she’s considered for her retail locations. Rock on!

Many thanks to the fabulous Elizabeth Staples, President of The Good Dog Spot for her time and wisdom.  Her business has grown to over 20 employees and 4,000 clients.  To learn more about Elizabeth and her business, visit her Website, Facebook page and if you’re a dog owner, sign up for her newsletter with tips on everything from grooming to training.

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