Gung Hay Fat Choy. That’s the traditional greeting for Chinese New Year—which began on Friday, February 16 with celebrations continuing for two weeks. What does the Chinese New Year mean for your small business?
In the Chinese—or Lunar—calendar, each year corresponds with one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. According to legend, the traits of each year’s animal portend the characteristics of people born in that year and the conditions and trends for the coming year. Now I’m not a big believer in astrology but why not take some inspiration and have some fun with a tradition that more than a billion people around the globe share?
I’m excited because this year is the Year of the Dog, my favorite animal (with the possible exception of elephants, but they don’t make good house pets).
Dogs abound in admirable qualities, so I’m expecting that to bode well for my small business and for yours. In fact, my former dog Teddy landed me my first small business client. On a walk, Teddy, a gray terrier mix, introduced himself to a King Charles Spaniel whose owner happened to need a business plan. Presto. My consulting service was launched.
Since then, I’ve used the attributes of the animal of each Chinese year as inspiration for the attitudes I need for the coming year in my small business. This approach has been surprisingly helpful. For example:
- 2009, the depth of the recession, was the year of the ox. In my small business, we committed to working like oxen—doing the hard, deep, often unpleasant work to plow business fields to make them fertile once again. It worked, leading to…
- 2010, the year of the tiger. My business came roaring back, and I had one of my best years ever.
- 2014, the year of the horse. My small business started going in too many different directions, and I had to learn to rein it in.
In the Year of the Dog, what traits are associated with dogs that can inspire you and your small business to greater success this year?
- Loyal. Dogs are the most loyal beings on the planet, so learn from them. Want to do well in your small business? Stay loyal to your customers, your employees, and your business ideals.
- Persistent. Every small business owner and entrepreneur needs to be “dogged.” You’ll have rough times and setbacks. Staying the course during tough times requires persistence.
- Perceptive. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They can sniff out drugs, bombs, bed bugs—even melanoma. This year sniff out opportunities for your small business that can help you grow.
- Positive. Emulate dogs when you do business with others, and always do your best to be friendly. You don’t have to wag your tail, but you should be happy to see your customer, employees, and vendors.
- Tough. Let’s face it, dogs can be ferocious. You, too, sometimes have to develop a thick skin, make hard decisions. No dog fights, of course.
- Helpful. Dogs have been trained for all kinds of beneficial services, such as aiding the visually or hearing impaired, those with diabetes, searching and rescuing people lost in tragedies. What problems can you solve for your customers?
- Trusting. With all the ups and downs of running a small business, sometimes the person you need to trust most is yourself. You’re the one with the vision, after all. But you’ll also need people on your team whom you can trust to help you execute that vision.
And if you, like millions of people around the world, want to splurge on something special for the Chinese New Year, there’s lots of ways to spend lots of money. You can pick up a Gucci backpack embroidered with the image of a terrier ($1450 ), an Armani powder compact embossed with a dog design ($62), a faux fur Kate Spade satchel shaped like a puppy’s head ($378) and a whole range of products from Louis Vuitton, including a watch with a very cute dog on its face for only $2645. And of course, you can toast your dog—and all dogs—with a Johnnie Walker whiskey special edition bottle.
Dogs always want the best for you and think the world of you. Being a small business owner can be lonely, so if you don’t yet have a dog, the year of the Year of the Dog might be a good time to find a canine partner for your small business. Check out rescue dogs at Petfinder.com.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2018
This article originally ran in USA Today on February 21, 2018