While I am sure that working with the second largest confectionary brand in the world would provide many valuable lessons and business insight, the Cadbury I was actually referring to is this 12 year old Labrador who unfortunately was laid to rest this week. Through this tough time it had me thinking a little deeper and reflecting on the time we shared together. Looking back there were a number of both life and business lessons that this little guy had shown me, which while I had missed at the time I was fortunate enough to see at the end.

Cadbury was the runt of the litter that no one wanted, never grew into his Labrador body, had suffered random seizures that couldn't be diagnosed, went completely blind and ended up developing tumours. But from his time as that unwanted puppy through to the very end I have never seen a happier dog with a tail that would wag with such enthusiasm. He really had nothing go right yet he had everything to live for - making the most of each and every opportunity.

While I hope that no one experiences the poor luck that Cadbury did, it is inevitable that throughout both our business and personal lives we will experience some severe ups and downs. At the end of the day it is what we make of these times and how we react to them that ultimately dictates the impact they will have on us.

Do what makes you happy

This sounds so simple yet is often overlooked, and while I don't condone taking a shit in the foyer of the vets (yes, he did that to me), I do feel that people often go into business for the wrong reasons or over time get pushed away from their original concept. Doing what makes you happy will shine through in your enthusiasm and determination, it will reflect positively in your products and services including the experience of your customers, and it is contagious which will spread throughout your brand and team. Take the time to clearly detail your business vision and plan to ensure that you not just reach your desired result but that you enjoy the journey.... and regularly review. You simply can't correct and realign things which you do not monitor.

Set your own benchmark

Cadbury was happy day after day and this was something I really thought about.... what did he have to be so content about? The more I thought about it I realised that he wasn't trying to live up to the standards of someone else, he had set his own standard that he was happy with and that was his benchmark. Most days Cadbury would either meet or exceed his expectation and in today's society with there being so much emphasis on "Keeping on with the Joneses' it can dilute the positive experiences we actually have. That flash new piece of equipment that your competitor has just purchased might give you an initial positive feeling, but does it align with your original goals. In purchasing the same equipment also are you working towards your own benchmark or simply trying to keep up with someone else's?

Learn from others but don't be a follower

While it is important to learn from the lessons and experiences of others it should not be what constantly dictates the direction of your business, or life for that matter. As Cadbury's eyesight deteriorated he soon figured out that he could no longer make the same choices as the other dog, and that in doing so would be detrimental. He would learn to adapt to what was right from him, taking little snippets of information that were useful and relevant and not worrying about the rest. In business you need a strategic plan that will help develop this overall direction and provide guidance and stability through rocking times, as trying to simply do the same things as others can be a recipe for disaster.

 

Surround yourself with the right people

Such an important strategy and one that can slowly slip out of focus as business owners. Cadbury didn't choose who he surrounded himself with but the people that were there were able to assist and step up as things got harder, not just making his life easier, but to enhance the overall experience. Being able to attract, internally promote and retain the right people is one of the key ingredients of any successful business. But it is often one of the hardest things to achieve requiring some of the responsibility and accountability to be delegated and letting go a little. Through effectively communicating and setting clear and measurable goals you can still be sure that things are moving in the desired direction, while letting others enhance and make this journey in business easier and so much more fulfilling.

Take the time to appreciate the little things

A Labrador and dinner time... need I say more? Even a walk that might have just been in circles around a tree were the highlights of his day. We can all get so caught up in the bigger picture that the current moment is forgotten, but it is embracing the moment that can rejuvenate us. It is embracing the moment that can trigger that next great idea or fill us with the drive needed to get through that next challenge. Take time to appreciate the little things and feel the positive effects.

Always wake up and "wag your tail"

People don't just wake up each and every day in a positive mindset ready to tackle the challenges that will be presented. But by getting up and "wagging your tail" as Cadbury did, you will be establishing that can-do attitude that every business owner needs. It can be so easy to get down on yourself about how things are going (or not going) that you loose that drive needed to achieve your goals, but in all honesty there is always something positive there, something you have achieved, something you have created... you just need to look for it.

While Cadbury seemed to have things figured out it is not as simple in the business world. Through partnering with Synergise My Business you will be provided with not just the tools but the support that will help guide you move in the right direction and make that journey in business that much more enjoyable.

Thanks for the memories Cadbury!