One of the most important lessons you can learn from Aileen Cronin isn’t about what she does, but what she did to get there. She identified her passion and found a mentor. She quit her job, refinanced her house, and worked with her mentor for three years.
With no income, she lived off her life’s savings. “I was dedicated to this becoming my whole life,” Aileen says. She learned how to start a business from scratch, moved it to a market with no competitors, and grew it from two to a team. Chances are you don’t want to start a concierge company for dog training and canine care, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from Aileen. So sit. Stay.
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| Rise Grind Repeat 084 |
But the hard part with our industry is, when you tell the human I can’t help you, it’s the dog who suffers. So we live with this guilt that if I don’t help this person, the dog is going to suffer. But I had a very, it was very expensive. I was in hospital for five days. And then I couldn’t work for six weeks. And so by doing this one thing, I paid a really severe consequence.
On today’s episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, we talked to Aileen from Dogs of Scottsdale, talk about how she pivoted in real time and grew her business during COVID. dive right in. Aileen, thank you so much for joining another episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, I am excited about this, because you are a true blooded entrepreneur, I met you at a buddy’s wedding, and you’re starting your own business. And since then, we’ve gone through this wonderful thing called COVID. And even connected before this, you’ve kind of seen some growth. So it’s it’s, you know, really cool to see someone that can grow during one of the world’s craziest times, I mean, in our generation. And so, before we get into that, I’d love to just learn more about how you started in your entrepreneurship.
Well, first of all, thank you for having me, I’m really excited to be here. But I got started working with dogs, probably about seven or eight years ago, I had a dog that had behavior problems, and I sought out the help of a lot of different trainers, and eventually ended up on an episode of Cesar 911. So my dog was rehabilitated by Cesar Millan and got to the dog psychology center, it was really nice to know my dog was bad enough that he needed to go be with the pack and learn from the man himself. And when I was done, I wanted to learn how to help other people. Because the problem, I learned that the problems that I was having weren’t so much with the dog, it was that I didn’t have the information that I need to control, like my emotions. And so the dog was feeding off of my emotions, thinking it was doing exactly what I wanted it to do. But I did not want him to eat people. So that was, that was kind of how it all got started. And after that I wanted to help. Specifically, I wanted to help women. But it’s really grown into helping anyone who’s willing to learn how to do something new and different. So yeah,
awesome. You even started out it wasn’t that you had a passion of doing this. It’s just that you identified a problem that was in the marketplace. And sounds like you have more of a passion for helping people and to help people is through their pets, which that’s a huge part of everyone’s life. I mean, people will spend more money on their pets than their own kids. Oh, yeah.
Well, and I think a lot of times people, I’ll tell them that I work with dogs, and they’re like, Oh, that must be great. But they don’t always realize that ideally, every dog has a human. And that human is responsible for the outcome. Just like with our businesses, if you don’t do certain things, you’re not going to get certain results. And so a lot of people, you know, we enjoy our pets as pets, but we forget that they need structures and they need rules, and they need things to happen at a certain time. And I help people set that up so that they have a more successful relationship.
That’s awesome. So did you start your business seven years ago? Or is that when you started understanding like, okay, there’s a need, this is what I kind of like doing? And was there a couple your ramp up? Or did you work with others? Or was it hit the ground running, I’m starting my business and it’s been going seven years?
Well, I found a mentor first that I wanted to work with that I wanted to learn from, and I quit my job refinanced my house and I followed him around the country for three years. That’s cool. I had no income. I just lived off of my life savings. This was I was dedicated to this becoming my life my whole life. And then at the end of that mentorship period, I started a company in Orange County, California. I did a lot of work in Newport Beach area, and then I landed in Arizona, I don’t feel like anyone knows how they get here. And in California, working with dogs in large packs is very popular, but nobody does it here. So I was literally an oasis in a desert of this philosophy. I started working with rescues expanded into like more people who own their pets. And we’ve really grown into like now a concierge service. That’s really cool. So over the course of the seven years sounds like you’ve been on that show just
before this, you’re talking about National Geographic. Would love to learn about that story. How did you get on National Geographic,
I saw an ad on Facebook for it on Caesars post, saying Do you have a problem dog? And would you like to be on Caesars new show? And I filled it out it was originally called Ruff Neighborhood and you were supposed to nominate your neighbor. And they called me and said, Tell us about your Pitbull. And I did. And they were like, Oh, we want to work with him. And we want to work with you. And it’s just, uh, it’s funny, because when you watch the show, they make it sound like someone nominated me and I didn’t know. But you can tell how bad of an actress I was. Because when I when Cesar came up to help me, I was shocked. And just a really bad actress. I was like, oh, Cesar, you’re here to help me. And yeah, they just I don’t I thought my friends are playing a joke on me. Really? Yeah. But they really wanted me on the show. So they really wanted to tighten on the show. Titan was my dog at the time. So yeah,
What was that experience like?
It was life changing. It was honestly the I was in a really bad relationship. And when I saw it play out on TV, it was, I don’t want to say embarrassing, but we broke up on the show. And you could see that like, this chaotic piece of my life was was taking away the one thing I wanted, which was a good relationship with my pet. And so when I removed this piece, the other piece got a lot better. And that’s what I wanted to help people understand that it wasn’t about, you know, sit, stay lay down. It was about your whole life. Yeah. And when we talk about your energy and who you are and what you bring to the table, that is everywhere. It’s not just at work, it’s not just with your friends. It’s in everything that you do, and it really travels out.
Ya know, I couldn’t agree more. It sounds like you’ve had a lot a lot of epiphany during that little little time stamp. And one. I mean, just from a personal perspective, but even just a business perspective, it sounds like a lot, a lot of clarities came out from that. And I guess fast forward to what you’re doing. Now, I’d love to explain what is your company? And what is it exactly that you do.
So I own dogs of Scottsdale. And we are a we focus on three things training, exercise and boarding. And we are a membership program. So people apply to be a part of our pack. And once you’re part of our pack, you can be in our training programs. Dogs that participate in our training programs are allowed to board with us if their owners are traveling. And they’re also allowed to participate in our day program.
They’re also allowed to purchase on the story, to participate in our day program. And our day program is where we pick them up, we spend the day training and exercising them and then we bring them home. And so we are really more of a community than we are like a brick and mortar business where you bring your dog for daycare, we focus on, you know, every part of the canine life experience and supporting owners however they need. So, you know, when dogs come on board with us, they’re with us in our house. Like for example, we had one dog that had really bad separation anxiety and slept in our room every single night. Over the last five nights. Really? Yeah. So we wanted him to feel safe. So it’s nice to know that like you’re leaving your dog and not only professional and capable hands, but with someone who cares about them as a member of their own family. And right now we have about 90 clients.
Wow. Yeah. Wow. And I mean, was that what were you guys at before the pandemic?
We actually had so many people try to get in during the pandemic that we have a waitlist of 90 and a book of 90. Wow. So my biggest problem right now is finding qualified people to come and work for us.
That’s all, that’s all stop you from getting double in the business is people?
Yeah, I’ve offered. I’ve offered large sums of money to, to my peers in California, people don’t want to live in Arizona. It’s really I think it’s tough. It’s a tough environment for dogs. And it’s a tough environment when people live in Southern California to convince them to come here. But I also
really liked hiring the home values. I mean, just what what their money could buy for homes out here compared to California, my gosh, it’s nuts. It’s crazy, right.
But I also think that I also really like working with people who are very green. And so I like hiring people that don’t have any experience and I like teaching them. I love the mentorship part of my job. And I think that we go through as a business, we go through phases of what’s important to us and where our values are. And there’s a time when growth is important. There’s a time when making sure the employees are happy is important. And then there’s a time where, like right now I’m 36 weeks pregnant, and I’m gonna be going on maternity leave. And so organizing everything so that I can leave and knowing that everyone will be safe, happy and taken care of, is where our priority has been the last couple of months. And then I’m going to spend my maternity because I can’t not work. Yeah, I’m not sure. I’m going to call it maternity leave. And I’m gonna be looking at that computer every day. We both know that, right? So I’m going to be spending that time, I always go through what I call a period of downsize to uprise, where you take a step back, organize things a new way, figure out what your next area of growth is, and then do it. So now it’ll be interesting watching people come out of COVID. Is the travel industry going to bounce back quickly? Because in the summer, we close down two thirds of our training program and become essentially a pet hotel. Really, yeah. And we make we build more in the summer than we do. Nine months out of the year.
That is insane. Yeah, we have, we have people who leave for five and six weeks at a time and leave their dogs with us and they leave the state and they go and travel to Europe or Florida even during COVID when people aren’t traveling or anything like that. I mean that the demand has increased like that.
Not so much for boarding this last summer was really weird. It was quite an adaptation for us. Like we we continue to run our day program. And there were people who traveled but it was a way smaller percent. So for us it was we just kept running our day program, which was hard because it was combined with Arizona’s hottest summer, in 100 years, I think we had four flat tires. And every time you get one, you’re on the side of the road to triple A and I’m like, I’m pregnant. I have 8 dogs, I need someone to come help me. But as long as you have air conditioning, you’re gonna be okay. So it was definitely I mean, we made it it was, it was still a pretty big summer for us. But it helped us realize that there was other things that we could do during the summer to alleviate some of what we were going through at home when we have all these boarding dogs. In a regular summer, we may have, you know, 25 dogs a day on boarding. And then this summer, we had maybe like seven to 10 Yeah, so people were still traveling, but they weren’t.
Yeah, you get it identified identifying a problem and kind of shifting the business based off where those needs are and be able to fulfill one thing that you mentioned that I love and appreciate is the fact he said we’re not typical brick and mortar, we’re building more of a sense of community, was that done by accident? or Why? Why? Why such the importance on building a community.
I think when we expanded and brought on more and more team members, my first team member was my husband. So I work and live with my husband full time. And we work out of where we live with living breathing creatures that do a variety of things that could cause stress in the home, right? So after we got married, and we brought on other team members, I really felt like I had to focus on helping the people be happy. Because it wasn’t about the numbers anymore. It was a different metric system. Yeah, I wanted people to want to be there, I wanted our employees to feel safe. And I had to look at some of the canine members of our program and say, just because I can take care of this dog, it doesn’t mean that everybody has the same skill. And when you put people in a situation where their skill doesn’t match what the situation demands. Not only does it create unhappiness, it creates an issue with safety. And so I just started focusing on what was best for everybody involved. And what I learned on my Cesar 911 episode, and what I have constantly learned through mentorship and education is that in order to have a happy community, sometimes you have to remove some pack members in order to be able to move forward in a healthy way. Because otherwise it becomes a virus. Yeah. And it takes over everything, and it ruins everything, and no one can go anywhere. And I really focused on just having like a healthy work environment for everyone, wherever and felt safe. And I wanted the dogs to feel safe too Yeah, so
you know, no, I love that. I mean, some of the things that we do here is I mean someone comes on it’s here’s the things we’d like you to do, but over time it’s really trying to understand what is it that makes you happy? What do you get up and enjoy doing? Let’s figure out how to basically make you do those roles because at the end of the day, it’s if you’re doing you’re loving, the end result for the client is gonna be that much better because their heart and souls into it. If you’re forcing someone to do something they don’t like, they’re gonna begrudgingly do it. It’s not going to be the best quality and so it’s like it Just works out for everyone that they’re happy the clients have because you’re getting better work. Have you noticed that that the quality of work or your clients are that much happier as you started trying to, I guess align people with their happiness or traits? And how how I guess that equates to the dogs that they’re training and stuff?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think that one of the I listen to a lot of podcasts, I’m in the car a lot, I probably drive like 300 miles a day, geez. So I’ll get a lot of input. And I love business podcasts. And one of the one of the ones that I listened to, he was talking about how in a company, everyone writes their own rules. So I will ask someone, this is what I need you to do. And after they’ve been with us for a while, I say, Do you enjoy this task? No, great, you don’t do that anymore. Tell me what you like. And that’s where we’re gonna put you because that’s what I need, I’ll take whatever it is. Because I want more, I want more from that employee. And I want them to take over bigger parts of the business, which is weird, because for a long time, I was very controlling, I didn’t want anybody to touch my business, I didn’t want anybody to make mistakes, and I was miserable. So now when I have someone, even if it’s not something that I’m trying to focus on, and they say they want more responsibility in a certain area, and like, great, here you go, do it, you do it, you come back to me, you tell me what you need, I’ll make sure you have it. And so I think in allowing people to grow where they want to go, instead of growing, where I just see my business need, it allows them to develop a lot more as a as a, I mean, this is a job where you have to, there’s so many things you can do with dogs. You can do sports trials, you can do police work, you can do basic obedience training, you can do socialization. So if if at the end of the day, they don’t, like we focus on behavior, we focus on socialization. And that is very draining for a lot of people. And some people get there and find out that that’s not what they want to do. And they may leave entirely. But this person may find out that they want to do something that’s just a little, like, I want to do more traditional obedience. Well, those are people that are on our waitlist, that are looking for that. And maybe that’s not what I love. But I think you should explore that with these people within our company and see if that’s something that we can offer for them. Right. So I try to take advantage of what they are good at what they excel at and where they want to go. Because I don’t know, it could be good for us.
That’s I know, I love that model. That’s I mean, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do as well. And some of the you mentioned that I think is is big for those who are just starting a business and that I mean, they’re growing. And they want to get to where they want to start scaling. And basically it takes delegating and all that. But it’s hard to delegate, especially when you you’ve grown the baby by yourself and it’s you know, they’re not gonna do it up to 100% it’s all gonna be at I mean, that’s tough for some people to get over. What was it that helps you get over that to where you are okay with maybe things not being 100% up to what how you would do it, but they’re up to 80% the clients happy, which is allowed you to really start scaling your business and and start making revenue on things that you’re not even touching someone else can. How hard was that?
Well, I got a, I had a really, I had a client that I really wanted to help, because it would have been beneficial for my business. And they gave me some very honest feedback. And she said, when I look at your website, it looks like you only work with aggressive dogs and our dog isn’t like that. And I was like, oh my oh my gosh, how many people feel this way and haven’t said anything to me. And I went and I hired someone, I hired someone and I paid them buckets of money to organize my business, streamline everything. And he did the same thing for me like what do you not enjoy anymore? Great. You don’t do any of that you do these three things. And by letting go of a lot of the stuff that was getting in the way, I was trying to be everything for everyone and saying I can help you. And I can but like I don’t. There are a lot of people out there who can help in a lot of different areas. I don’t have to do everything. And so then when it came to, you know how was I going to scale my business and how was I going to address this huge waitlist I have. You know, he built funnels for me for everything from the website down to how we delegate to our employees. Everything is very organized now. And so when we, when we hired our new people, I hired six people in the last year. I fired two and it was because they didn’t fit the need of the company. And it wasn’t personal, but they either didn’t have the skill or they didn’t have the heart. And when you when you have that situation, it’s hard for the rest of the team to perform their best. And so when we removed those people, our current team members were able to grow a lot more. And we were able to give them a lot more responsibility. And now I’m more concerned about each day being as fulfilling as the as it can be for the dogs and the humans and the owners, and less concerned about what my business is benefiting. And then the byproduct is my business benefit. When I stopped looking at what am I getting out of all this, and I start putting the people first and the dogs. It’s just kind of something that’s happened naturally, I think I’ve changed as a leader. And I tell them all the time, I’m like, the girl who taught my husband is completely different. I was desperate. I needed help now. And he learned by from a drill sergeant, which is how I learned, which is a whole nother issue. But so when I teach these girls, I tell them and I just say the girls because they happens to all be women. We don’t have a lot of men that apply for the job. I don’t know why that is. But um, and I tell them every day I go, you’re allowed to make mistakes. Which was not okay. I had like that. When I found out I was having when I found out I was becoming a mother. It changed a lot of things for me and how I taught people. And I became a lot more compassionate.
Isn’t it crazy that that happens? I mean, even before I say yes to everything, let’s take meetings as I mean, do as much as we can. And ever since ever since. I mean, even even when Haley got pregnant, I mean, didn’t really hit but the last like, two months of the pregnancy is all sudden I was just like, Alright, well, I can’t, can’t be saying yes to everything. I mean, we’ve learned how to delegate, I’ve learned how to delegate better to the team. And I mean, I try to do as much as I could. And I mean, how much has outside of the business being able to grow and other people being happy? I mean, what does that done to your happiness, I mean,
oh my gosh, leaps and bounds. Like I think I just found something. And I don’t want to say that my business isn’t important. But I think when it is the only important thing that is important to you, for so long, and you live and you breathe it in, you wake up to it, and you fall asleep to it, and you dream about it. And and it is the only it is the most important thing and you sacrifice your personal time and you sacrifice your relationship. And then you know being married. It got better. I planned for it. We got married October of 2019. So the pandemic hit probably five months later, yeah. And we had buckets of travel planned for 2020, we were going to go all over the place. And that was my way of setting of making my marriage a priority over my business. But then COVID happened, right? And then we couldn’t go anywhere. And we were already used to being in house together 24 hours a day. And our business wasn’t slowing down. So nothing was changing. And then I was like, Well, if nothing’s gonna change, we can’t go anywhere. Let’s have a baby. Which sounds great in theory, and then yeah, as as time went on, and you start to realize that like, okay, I work with dogs, I work with things that have teeth, and I’m not going to be able to take a traditional leave, I’m not going to be able to people all the time talk about like, Oh, I’m afraid for my dog to be around your baby. And I’m like, you think my dogs, your dogs, my baby, my dogs aren’t gonna be around my baby. But it just just changed everything for me. Like there was finally and I don’t recommend getting pregnant to have something more important than your business. But the for me, there was a real tangible thing happening that was that had to be prioritized. There was no choice anymore. I was forced to change. Yeah. And I was forced to change how I lived with with my business on a daily basis. And it’s a lot easier to put away the computer. And I think that, you know, I had a mentor who was very harsh on me, and created a lot of damage in trying to help. And I think what I learned from that situation was I never wanted to be like that towards other people. And so when we brought on these team members, and we started to grow, instead of saying, What can I get out of them. I wanted to be someone that was like, What do you need? What do you need to be successful? Because every minute and this is something that I learned, and I became really resentful in my career in the beginning was people would say it’s not personal and I’m like, but it is personal. Because every minute that I spend with your dog, I could be doing something with mine. I could be training mine, I could be spending time with my husband, I could be doing XYZ. But I’m not I’m here with you, and you’re wasting my time. And I go, that’s not personal. So when I brought on team members, I was very much aware and grateful that every single moment that they were with me, regardless of taxes, or payroll, or whatever, I pay them, that’s still life currency. And they could be anywhere else in the world. And they choose to be here with us. And that is very important to me. And I want to respect that. Yeah. Which was, I learned how to do that, because I had a mentor who was like, You’re lucky I showed up. I was like, well, you’re a jerk. He likes you.
That’s a tough mentor. Yeah. But I mean, on that note, I mean, it literally the last like five episodes, a huge, huge piece of growth has been mentorship, I mean, all of it mainly being positive, even though you’ve had some negative stuff. I mean, it sounds like you still value mentorship, because it sounds like that’s what you do with your employees as well. I mean, how big is mentorship to you and growing the business, but also how big is mentoring your your employees on growing their happiness? And also, the business comes with it as well,
when I think that when you work with dogs, like if, if you were doing the same thing, and five years from now, and you didn’t grow at all as with EIC, yeah. And five years from now, you’re still at the same table? Asking the asking the same questions, you probably wouldn’t be fulfilled, fulfilled. Yeah, that’s the word, entire Trump’s vocabulary. So for me, if I’m doing the same thing, five years from now, I’m not being fulfilled. And the only way to problem solve and to get better is to get input from other people. So even though I’ve been working with dogs for seven years, roughly, I still get input from other people when I need to take a break from the output. But also, I need to see new ways of doing things. And they may have been around for a long time, but they’re new for me. And then I think that it’s important to bring that knowledge back to the team. And so one of the biggest things we do with our employees is I tell them, watch other people, find out who’s having seminars, I will send you, as long as you report back. And I don’t think that there’s anything, there’s no bad workshop or seminar to go to, you may go somewhere and find out someone isn’t as cool as I am, right? There’s a lot of Instagram educators. And you may go and find out that they don’t know what they’re doing. So check it off the list and move on and stop thinking about it. So I think that it solves a couple problems. I think there’s this, at least in my in with the dog training industry, people fall victim to Oh, my contents not as good as theirs is theirs. And I look at them. And I’m like that person has someone who follows them around and records every consultation and everything they do with the dog. That’s a lot of money. I know what that cost because I’ve paid someone to make content for me. And they’ve earned that spot and that person has been around for a lot longer. So you can’t compare yourself to those people. But you can go and learn from them and find out if their walk matches their time. Because you can be very good at business and not very good with dogs and still have a booming company. Yeah. But you know, yeah, there’s anyone can build a website and say they do something.
Yeah. But can you execute? Exactly? Yeah. What are your results? Yep, exactly. And I mean, that being said, it’s he talked about results. You mentioned different KPIs is the business’s growth growing, whether it’s financials or happiness? How big have analytics and data played a role and in the growth of your business?
I think right now, there was a time probably a year ago, right before 2020. That was like the one thing I was looking at, because this was supposed to be our big year. We were supposed to grow. We were supposed to expand. We were supposed to just kill it right? And let us know what happened. I mean, we grew the pet industry grew tremendously. I mean, you order from if you’ve ever ordered from chewy, calm, it took six weeks get your dog food. There, they made a lot of money.
Some big kid anything digital retail money this year. I wasn’t as worried about the online performance side of things like I would look at it and be impressed that like, Oh, yeah. Greece today or we hit got a lot of traffic today. And when something does well, I was very happy. But because I didn’t have the support to or because I didn’t have the team members to support the growth. I didn’t want to overanalyze, spend too much time when it’s not even gonna bring anything.
Right. So as I am getting ready to go on my maternity, those are the things that I’m going to be looking at. I’m looking at, you know, right now we have a really huge territory. So we cut we’re called dogs have Scottsdale, but we have clients in central Phoenix, we have clients in Gilbert, we have clients all over. So I’m looking at breaking that up into different territories, having, you know, more specific service areas, and that’s where the analytics are gonna come in. So what am I, what am I going to prioritize, Phoenix is in Scottsdale is it you know, all of that. And then we just recently had a change in our team. And we had a team member who she’s a film student at ASU and she said, I really want to do your social media. I really want to do your, like Instagram and your tik tok. And I was like, I haven’t even downloaded tik tok. Because I can’t have another thing on my plate that I start and can’t fulfill. And so when we had this change in team members, I was like, great, like, huge, and she’s been begging for hours. She’s like, you know, I can work weekends, I can do this. I’m like, I know, I know. I just don’t have anything for you right now. And what it did was it opened up an opportunity for her to shine. And I’m really excited for her to focus on those things. Because I the you know, I had someone last week reached out to me, and she was telling me that she didn’t like something my brand posted. And I was like, Okay, I’ll get like one story. And she doesn’t even have a dog. Dog. And she’s like, my friend read it, and her feelings were hurt. And so she’s not gonna reach out to you. And like, what I wanted to say was, like, cool, we have a 90 day waitlist, like, yeah.
But really, what I came across is, what I ultimately ended up saying to her was, you know, like, I don’t have to be the one for everybody. And I am not responsible for how people feel when they I am. Let me rephrase that. I am responsible for how people feel when they read my content in the sense that I don’t want to bully anyone, I don’t want to shame anyone. I’m clearly obviously not trying to alienate people. But if something is misinterpreted, that may be someone that has a level of sensitivity that I’m not prepared to work with right now. And I’m, it’s okay for me to say that, right? So, and she was like, well, your pain is your whole, your is your whole brand and this ad the other and I was like you do something completely different than what I do. And I don’t think that I appreciate the input. But it wasn’t the same kind of feedback as when I got that person who said about my website, like, we don’t want to work with you, because it looks like you only do this, like it wasn’t life shattering for me in that way. So like, I can look at the input and say, is this valuable? Is this not valuable? Yeah. And put it in its final? Nobody. I mean,
that’s it figuring out where you spend your time. That’s huge on how much do you debate this person that’s, that’s, you know, responding to you to bring it on someone that can take on social to starting other channels and stuff like that. I mean, that being said, You got a little one on the way, you know, you just got married not too long ago, I mean, when it comes to prioritizing, figuring out what to say yes to how I mean, how do you how do you do that?
I say no, first, because I always tell everyone like with the dogs, you have no business saying yes. Unless you’ve said no. So people will come to me and say, should my dog be allowed on the couch? And I go, Well, can you tell them not to be on the couch? No. Okay, well then first teach them to not be on the couch. And then when you feel like it, you can teach them how to be on the couch. So I immediately almost any time someone asked me to do something that is a time commitment. I say no. And then I think about it. So I practice my that, you know, I don’t really think that that’s something that I can do right now. So then if I decide later down the road, that it is something I can do, then I say yes. But I think that it was because for so long, I said yes to everything. And that’s what led to the like critical and happiness. What changed?
Like, what was it that you said yes to everything to find God to say, you know, what? Was it I’m just sick of feeling this way. I’m sick of feeling stretched thin every single day and sick of it. What was it that got you to go from saying yes, all the time to that? No, let’s say no more. So I’m literally like right in the middle of that right now. I’m bad at just saying yes to everything. And I want to help everyone. I mean, I like making content people I like helping but I need to get better saying no,
this may not happen to you. But I was bitten by a dog and I had to have two hand surgeries in five days and was out of work for a very long time. And that’s because my clients bite me But I really it was more that like, this was a client than I knew I should have. I don’t want to say fired, because that’s me. But this was a client that I knew I wasn’t helping anymore. But the hard part with our industry is, when you tell the human, I can’t help you, it’s the dog who suffers. So we live with this guilt that if I don’t help this person, the dog is going to suffer. But I had a very, it was very expensive. I was in hospital for five days. And then I couldn’t work for six weeks. And so by doing this one thing, I paid a really severe consequence. Like it was not I almost lost the use of my right hand, like, a month of physical therapy, I couldn’t make a fist, you have to have a fist to hold the leash. And so I think that was probably the first thing that made things change. And then it just was it everything layered on top of that, like, you get burned, you get burned, you get burned, you get burned. And then I just one day, I was like, I’m just going to tell everybody No, until things slow down. And COVID made it a lot easier that yeah,
I mean, it’s, it’s easy to say,
Oh, COVID like, you know, we don’t have time COVID. And then I think the baby thing like all those things, huge injury, pandemic. Life. Yeah. All right. So I don’t ensure does all three of those things I think I would have kept going. And I would have kept digging my hole of solitude within within my
little velvet. Right, I would have been really happy in it. And I probably ultimately would have. It would have very negatively impacted my marriage. Yeah. And I really like my husband. And
it’s usually a good thing. It’s usually a good thing. He’s
a cool, dude. So I think I think if I lost that it would be it would have been devastating. So I’m grateful for all of those things, because I would rather be bitten by a dog second home for a year with a baby. That not that that’s bad. And then lost everything.
Yeah. No, that’s kind of literally kind of what I’m seeing now. It’s just like, how many how many more nights has always been like, I’ll just this one more thing. And, and so it’s, it’s I mean, kind of self recognizing that it’s nice to have some of these buckets of time where it was like 90% work and maybe 2% family and the male has been great. I mean, has been trying to grow something here. But I mean, as time goes on, it’s it’s got to recalibrate and reallocate your time based off of where needs are one personally, family and business wise and all that. And so,
yeah, I must suffer like, I will suffer, not silently. But I will, I will experience on happiness for a great period of time, before something changes. And I think that like it was literally like I woke up one morning, and I was like, You know what? Maybe it’s the I have a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica and has 100,000 miles on it. I’ve driven 100,000 miles in two years. That is a was a lot. It’s a lot of time on the road is only
here in the valley. Like it’s not even not even cruising up to Canada, like, back and forth to the east coast. Like on the daily,
I’m driving in tiny circles. In Central Phoenix, and you know what, like, at some point, you’re like, I’m risking car accidents. I’m, I haven’t, I don’t cook anymore. Because I get home, I was getting home at the end of the day and like, checks that they know us at Texas Roadhouse, because you know, you, you get to the you get to the end of the day, and you’re so depleted, because I mean, working with the dogs, it really is. It’s not just like sitting there and watching them play. It’s guiding their social experience. And a lot of the like, one of the things we did this year was, if you’ve ever looked at a dog wrong, you’re wearing a muzzle, because you’re not supposed to be in the hospital right now, if I get even an accidental bite, which happens, you know, I can’t go on a bunch of medication. If I lose a team member right now to a hand injury, the whole plan goes out the window, I keep hitting, the whole plan goes out the window. So the risk was so high that I stopped caring that clients would say like, oh, why is my dog on a muzzle? Well, because your dog has teeth and occasionally it likes to use them. And I’m not putting our team members at risk anymore. Like it just became I don’t know, I think Yeah. COVID and becoming a mom. I just was like it’s not. If it doesn’t work for you then find someone else who does it.
Yeah, no, it’s I mean, it’s from just doing a lot learning and figuring out how to take some of that wisdom and just do better And all that being said, I mean, you’ve so many up so many downs. It’s I mean, just like every every entrepreneur, it’s a roller coaster. And what what’s been the biggest, I guess, hurdle that you faced growing the business? And how did you overcome it?
I think it was just the beginning. Like, I did so much stuff for free in the beginning, I was like out too, can I work with your dog? Can I? Can I videotape it? Can I use it as content? Can I, you know, in terms of growth, it was literally just like, get convincing people that they could give me their dog. So that I could show that I was capable. And I mean, the internal struggle part was because I had a mentor that was so controlling, and so worried about, you got very worried about people copying his work, or using his words, and I’m like, you can’t trademark someone else’s quote, first of all. And secondly, I paid a lot of money for this education, and I’m going to use it. And I’m not going to sit here and be your fan girl. You know, I’m perfectly capable. So I think because he spent so much time convincing me that I needed more and more knowledge and more and more knowledge and more and more knowledge, I began to doubt my ability in myself and I really devalued what I was worth. And it wasn’t until I hired that business consultant to come in and change everything for me that he was like, dude, let that go. Yeah, like I needed to hire someone that said, You’re not it doesn’t matter. Let it go. Great. We’re not gonna talk about it. Because it doesn’t matter. Let it go, let it go. So I needed someone to tell me like you have value, and you’re undervaluing yourself and people around you with less experience, or charging more. And when you devalue yourself, you’re depriving the people who need you of what of the service that they are looking for.
Yeah, I mean, psychological. So
it was a huge, that was a huge psychological jump for me. And I think also, I worked with a lot of rescues. And I love rescue dogs. I, God bless rescue organizations, they do work that I can’t and won’t do, right? Unfortunately, they’re the hardest to work with. Because they don’t let go of the dog’s past. They don’t look at what the dog is capable of in the future. And they drive the story, right? Oh, we’ve entered in Mexico, it has one and a half legs, says no for. And then every time someone introduces that dog to someone, and the dog is forced to relive this emotional and psychological trauma, and then someone like me comes in and is like, Hey, you gotta let that go in order to move forward. Like, it doesn’t matter what happened in the first for you, the first six weeks of its life, what have you been doing for the last, you know, four years, and it’s really it was I spent so much time trying to help people that didn’t want help, that it came to the point for me where I said, I don’t help rescues anymore. And if somebody wants to pay me to take a dog, and surrender a dog to me and all adopted out my own way, I’ll do that. But there was also a big expectation that I was supposed to sacrifice, like I have for personal dogs. So if you ask me to take a dog for free, like, I am now financially responsible for doing my services, feeding it, vetting it, finding someone who can adopt it, training them, and that can take years, I had four foster dogs for over 18 months. And it was extremely expensive. And I took care of them. So when I took that part of my business out, because I thought I was supposed to do that. And it created four spots for people, or for dogs who had owners who were already willing to work with them who are already willing to let go of the story. So I was able to help more dogs, by letting go of this segment of dogs that I personally was not effective with. Other people are great at that, like I have colleagues that take care of some of the most severe neglect cases, and the world would not turn without them. But that world turns fine without me if that makes any sense. No. So there needs to be someone who does it. It just can’t be me.
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s and that’s what makes it tough. It’s the opportunity costs. And it’s, it’s to your point one, I mean, the financial burden all of that that’s one thing, but the opportunity of actually serving for other dogs, that they would enjoy it, their owners are actually bought in and everything like that it, it allowed you to not get in front of them and actually serve who you want to serve that fulfills on that happiness, which I think it’s tough because it’s, you don’t you don’t realize what could be because you’re in the middle of this situation now where saying no, knowing who you want to go, after all that type of stuff, all of a sudden, the Epiphany starts happening when those opportunities start coming in. And it’s like, wow, this is who I want to align with more, right? And just, it’s tough. But it
was hard, because people would be like, Oh, you know, they’d be like, Oh, I found this, or I have one lady was like, I have a golden retriever bit my kid. And I’m like, so I’m supposed to. And I said, it costs X amount of dollars for you to surrender your pet to me. I’ll rehabilitate it, I’ll find it an appropriate home. I’ll teach the people how to maintain everything that I’ve taught the dog. And she was like, I can’t believe that you would charge and I’m like, I’m having a kid. You want me to take no, I had to learn that just because I can doesn’t mean I should. And it doesn’t mean that. Like, I had to learn that people were in their own desperate situation. And having come from a desperate situation, not everyone gets picked to be on Cesar 911. But I can’t help everybody. And if I spend all of this time trying to help people, it really deprives, you know, the rest of the community from what they need. And that kind of ties into why I made the changes that I made with the business this year, because I learned that by trying to focusing so hard on these two or three people and their dogs, and everyone else was suffering.
Yeah, no, I mean, it’s amazing how much more clarity just comes out once you can start kind of prioritizing where your time goes saying now. And that’s I mean, that’s something I’m working on big time. But no, I mean, this has been great. I mean, as we kind of wrap up, I mean, for those that might be trying to start their own business, they’re kind of struggling to to really get the ball rolling. I mean, is there any, any, I guess, what’s the biggest piece of advice that you’d have for any, any entrepreneur that’s kind of starting out, or kind of getting things going, that just isn’t where they want to be yet.
Don’t forget you started because you were looking for happiness. And don’t let the business take over your whole life. Those would be my two, I guess it’s more than more than one. Don’t let the business be your whole life, like you are still a human at the end of the day that has a lot of different needs that need to be fulfilled in order to have a good output. And if you aren’t having those things fulfilled, the work that you’re putting out is not going to be what you dreamed it was going to be. It will suffer. So you have to be good to yourself.
Respect yourself. respect your time. It’s hard. It’s hard. But no, this has been great. It’s amazing how I mean how far you’ve come, but it seems like you’re picking up steam now. And it’s it’s only I mean, you’re gonna grow like crazy. And especially with the waitlist, it’s
Yeah, and if anybody wants to learn, I’ll teach you.
Start running some ads to get some employees, some employment ads,
I think that we’ll need to do that. Well, I
thank you so much for your time. I look forward to seeing the little one being born and look forward to the playdates that are in our near future.
Awesome. Can’t wait. Thank you. Thank you.
Where To Find Aileen Cronin
Check out the previous episode of Rise Grind Repeat featuring Shaun Clark Co-Founder of GoHighLevel.com, the fastest growing white-label platform for digital marketing. Watch the episode here!