I often find that phones can get in the way of true, heartfelt connection. Even something as benign as looking at tomorrow’s weather on our phones can take us out of the present moment and away from each other — even if we’re right next to each other. I would encourage all couples and families to have a “cell phone box” in their homes so people can be human beings instead of “human doings” in their home. I also would love for restaurants to have a cell phone check instead of a coat check!
A sa part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Morrison.
Kristin Morrison is the Founder of Six-Figure Pet Business Academy, a program she started in 2010 for service-based pet business owners including pet sitters, dog walkers, dog trainers, pet groomers, and dog daycare owners. In 2012, Kristin became a certified “Best Year Yet” coach, and created Best Year Coaching, a company that helps individuals from all walks of life and professions, plan and achieve their dream life list, from their personal goals to their business goals.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I had a lot of “career anxiety”. I went to college searching for my Right Livelihood but didn’t find it there. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian because of my deep love of animals, but when I worked at a vet hospital and assisted during surgery, I fainted when I saw blood! So that career was out.
The closest I came to feeling like I’d found a good career match for me was journalism, but even that didn’t feel like a complete fit.
I had a hard time sleeping at night because I was concerned that I wouldn’t find work that I enjoyed. Work takes up so many hours in a day and I didn’t want those hours to be hours I dreaded.
My brain was not able to figure out which career path to take, so I made a conscious decision to stop thinking about it because trying to figure it out was causing me a lot of stress and anxiety.
A couple years later, I was walking on a path along the water near my home. A woman walked past me with two Golden Retrievers. She had on a t-shirt with a pet business name and a phone number. The type of business wasn’t clear from the name on the shirt, but I suspected she has some kind of pet care business.
I asked the woman if she had a dog walking business. She said yes and asked if I wanted to work for her. I immediately said yes without even thinking. I worked for her for 3 months and then started my own dog walking and pet sitting business. That was in 1995.
It’s funny, I had this epiphany a few weeks ago that if cell phones had been around when I’d been walking that day I might have missed that opportunity to say YES to what has been one of my business “callings”.
That awareness about cell phones has now inspired me to sometimes leave my phone in the car or put the phone in a drawer when I’m at home–I don’t want to miss the opportunities that are out there and available to me if I just look up and pay attention to what surrounds me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
A few months ago I was approached by a MarketWatch reporter who found my company online and asked if he could write an article about my business. That article went viral including getting picked up by Yahoo and the New York Post. I flew to New York to be interviewed on Yahoo Finance and have since appeared on a number of TV shows and podcasts.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I had my pet sitting and dog walking business, I had a dog walking client ask me to not come the following day. I forgot and showed up. I searched for the dog including opening the master bedroom door and there was my client and his wife in bed completely naked! We all screamed!
I never forgot to cancel a dog walk again.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I really enjoy working with both hemispheres of my brain firing back and forth. At the beginning of the coaching session, I may work with someone on their marketing or hiring strategy, then, as the need appears, switch to working with them on their mental beliefs and helping them rewire their brain to see what’s possible. Helping my clients develop new neural pathways that support their success is very satisfying for me. One client in particular stands out. She was having a hard time getting beyond four figures in her business each month. Each month she’d get close but it was always just that, close but not beyond the five figure monthly goal. I worked with her on her limiting beliefs about money, including having her write on a sticky note her income goal for that month: “I earn $12,000 a month easily and effortlessly.”
I encouraged her to put that sticky note message wherever she would see it often throughout the day so she put it on her bathroom mirror, her dashboard, and on her computer.
The next month her business grossed $12, 500 — over $2,500 more than she’d ever earned previously!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m currently working on a book that addresses one of the biggest pain points that business owners face when running their businesses. I’m not able to share the title or the topic right now as the book is still in its infancy stage, but I’m very excited about it! My new book will be out by the end of 2020.
I coach business owners of all kinds, however pet professionals were my coaching clients when I first started offering business coaching over 20 years ago. I have an anytime access, online program called Catapult 4-Week Pet Business Program that many pet business owners have used to start or grow their pet businesses.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Because I’d never hired or even managed anyone, I didn’t know how to find, hire and train great people. This skill is very much needed when creating a successful business. I read hiring books, but reading books didn’t give me the skill to hire.
What helped me become a hiring ninja was trial and error: I dove into the hiring process and made many mistakes along the way.
These mistakes included hiring people who weren’t a right fit for the jobs they were hired to do, micromanaging my staff and thinking and acting as if they worked “for” me rather than “with” me. I realized that the language I used was very important — the word “with” invites collaboration and can create a team mentality, the word “for” can create unequal and hierarchical relationships.
After hiring my first couple of staff members I began actively looking to hire people who, in addition to being a great fit for the job they were hired to do, could also self-manage. This led to my being able to step away from the business more and more and eventually go from working 7 days a week to working 3 days a week. Because I had hired such a good team of self-starters who had initiative, drive and the ability to self-manage, regardless of whether I was there or not, the business was able to flourish.
In the 18 years that I ran my first company, I hired over 250 people in total. When I sold my business, I had 35 staff and 4 managers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I first started my business, I loved that I had autonomy and the ability to work from home. But after a couple of years, I felt very lonely. All of the friends I had at that time worked full time for companies, so if I had a few hours free during the day, I had no one to play with!
Thankfully I discovered a business networking group in my area that was made up of like-minded spiritual entrepreneurs who were actively focused on creating successful businesses. They became my tribe! It’s been 15 years since I discovered this group and I still regularly attend the weekly meetings and most of my close friendships have come from this group. In fact, most of the women I had as bridesmaids in my wedding were friends from this group!
My experience is that success does not thrive in isolation. Having the weekly support of my business group members has helped me and my business thrive emotionally, spiritually and financially.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m proud and happy to know that I’ve helped business owners who were at the end of their rope find hope and a new direction. I’ve worked with many who were on the verge of throwing in the towel in their business instead find new ways of running their businesses — ways that gave them more time and money and allowed them to have a life again. I’ve also worked with a number of people on the verge of separation or divorce who, after changing their relationship with their previously stressful business, were then able to shift their romantic relationships in positive and powerful ways.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I wish I’d priced my services at the going rate when I first started my business. Instead, I priced my services lower than the average company in my area in hopes of gaining clients quickly. I did gain clients quickly but they were not my Ideal Clients — instead they were clients looking for a deal.
- I wish I’d raised my rates sooner. It took me three years to raise my rates and because of that, for the first few years I had to work twice as hard in my business to make the kind of money I needed to make in my business in order for it to survive, instead of thrive.
- I wish I’d hired an office manager sooner. I had dreams of traveling around the world for months at a time but I needed a manager to manage my company in order for me to do fulfill that dream. It took me many years to hire this person — I was afraid of giving up control of my business and yet that giving up control was the best thing I ever did for my business — it allowed me and my business to soar — and gave me the freedom to travel for many months while my manager ran my business!
- I wish I’d asked for help from knowledgeable business people earlier on in my business. I think having that wisdom from experienced business owners that I could bounce ideas off of would have saved me a lot of time and energy and money from mistakes I made on my own.
- I wish I’d joined a business networking group sooner. For the first few years of running my business, I felt very isolated and alone as a sole proprietor working from home. Then I discovered a local networking group in my area. Joining that group was so affirming and supportive even though no one in my group did what I did, I received a lot of understanding, wisdom and support — in a way that only business owners who have “been through the fire” can give one another.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I often find that phones can get in the way of true, heartfelt connection. Even something as benign as looking at tomorrow’s weather on our phones can take us out of the present moment and away from each other — even if we’re right next to each other.
I would encourage all couples and families to have a “cell phone box” in their homes so people can be human beings instead of “human doings” in their home. I also would love for restaurants to have a cell phone check instead of a coat check!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I came up with this quote many years ago when I was afraid of taking a big step in my business and the quote “Feel the fear and do it anyway” wasn’t motivating me to step through my fear.
So this is what I came up with to help me move through that fear: “Courage can’t be bought or taught. The only way to gain courage is to step through fear.”
Running a business requires copious amounts of courage! If you’re feeling fear and walking through that fear, you’re on the right track.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Oprah and Michelle Obama are my heroes! They both model integrity, personal power, femininity, grace and inner beauty.