This past weekend, after months of my boys wearing me down, we went to the animal shelter and adopted a puppy. And not just any puppy, but a hound/terrier mix that is estimated to reach 65 pounds at adulthood. After a lifetime of owning tiny dogs (mostly Pomeranians), I knew Charlie would be a new adventure.

As we have been adapting to a puppy-friendly house, I have been thinking about how similar raising a puppy is to growing a business. There are similar challenges, but similar strategies to face them, as well.


HavCharlie2e set rules.

The first thing I did was to set ground rules early on, before the puppy had even set foot in the house. I reminded my sons that he was never to be fed people food, not allowed on the furniture, and that allowing him to roughhouse and “play-bite” was a bad idea.

In a business, it’s also easier to practice good habits early on, and to avoid the bad ones. Getting into the practice of having separation of duties and staying on top of bookkeeping is easier when your business is small, and sets you up for success as your company grows.


Protect your assets.

Charlie has a crate he sleeps in and to which he is confined whenever the family isn’t home. We have also stressed to the boys the importance of keeping toys and other valuables off the floor and in their rooms, where they are safe from puppy teeth. (I learned the lesson myself, when a laptop cord I’d left next to my desk was chewed through the first day.)

A new business, if not well-protected, can be even more destructive for an owner. Not having the proper insurance or levels of separation can not only be disastrous for the business, but can bankrupt you personally. And since none of those protections can be applied retroactively, it is best to have them early on, before you need them.


Get help from the experts. puppy

I know a lot about animals, but I also know I can’t be an expert in every area. We have a veterinarian to help take care of our pets’ health. I may be comfortable giving the dog a bath, but I still prefer to take him to a professional groomer for things like a nail trim. And though we are reinforcing training at home, we already have Charlie signed up for puppy training classes. I don’t have the time to provide absolutely everything Charlie could need, and there are experts who can offer those services much more efficiently than I ever could.

Businesses also need a lot of help, and it doesn’t make sense for the owners to handle everything. Even if you’re planning on doing your books yourself, get an expert to help set-up and train your and your staff. If you wait until your business is large to come up with a bookkeeping solution, you’ll have an unmanageable beast on your hands.