Being an entrepreneur is full of challenges, but there are some perks. You’re the boss, you make the rules. In the beginning, when my business overwhelmed my life, it was the perks that kept me from being resentful. I started bringing my dog to work, because I was the boss, and it made my long days easier. (I did make sure no one was allergic or afraid.) Riley, a Portuguese Water Dog, was part of See Jane Work from the very beginning. You may have seen him in the background of a few office photos, or heard him begging for treats when you called customer service. Here he is in 2006.
Once the See Jane Work brand was acquired by Advantus Corp., Riley stayed home. I no longer made the office rules, but I was ready for that. I wanted to come to work each day and focus on just the things I loved, not payroll and taxes. (I don’t want you thinking my life is all fun, I do still have to go to meetings and do expense reports. ) Although Riley was staying at home, he was still part of the photoshoots, since they were usually held at my house.
At See Jane Work, we like to be silly, so we did all sorts of things with Riley and he didn’t seem to mind.
In July of this year, Riley passed away and it was very difficult. He had comforted me through so many difficult times. I was sad for myself, but as a mom, I had to put my grief aside to be there for my 16 year old son, who was devastated.
Someone came up to me shortly after and said, “Makes you not want to have anymore pets, doesn’t it?” I could honestly disagree, the years of joy far outweighed the sadness. It made me think about life in general. When something bad happens we tend to think we could have prevented it. If I had not started a business, had a dog (fill-in-the-blank) my life would have been easier, but I would not be the person I am today. It sounds so cheesy, but the bad stuff really can make you a better person, if you let it. I’m far more compassionate and easy-going than I was before suffering loss. I could approach difficulties with bitterness and resentment, but instead I chose to learn and grow, something I will never regret.
These times also allowed me to see the kindness of so many people. With the ups and downs of business, I sought advice and comfort from other female entrepreneurs, who gave so generously of their time and talents. Lifelong connections were made, and one of those women later gave me advice when Riley got sick. She sent me a link to Laps of Love, a service that connects people with local veterinarians, who specialize in animal quality of life and pain management.
I’m thankful that I got to spend 13 years with such an amazing dog. I’m thankful I was able to create a brand that changed workspaces and the office supply market for the better. What are you thankful for?