5 things entrepreneurs can learn from cats

Cats. Enigmatic, aloof, contrary - affectionate, loving, loyal. There are so many adjectives that can be applied to our feline friends. And with a little under half of U.S. households (43%) owning one or more cats (totaling almost 86 million)1, it's clear they've got a place in our hearts.

But what can entrepreneurs learn from the cat's attitude to life? Well, quite a lot actually…


1. Focus

A constant flow of ideas is great for any business. Brainstorming sessions should be a 'no idea is a bad idea' where people are encouraged to let their imaginations run riot. Many a great idea has come from what seems a bizarre suggestion or comment at face value, but with a little lateral thinking becomes the next best thing. The key is not to get distracted. Cats have a singularity of focus unrivaled in the animal world. Most cat owners have watched their pet sit and stare at a single spot for hours before reaping the reward.

When you've got that great idea, focus your attention on it and see it through. If you don't, someone else may beat you to the punch.

2. Hunting

Dogs and their ilk tend to work together to bring down their prey, showing remarkable teamwork, which is a great analogy for winning business - assuming you're part of a team. But some small businesses may not be able to rely on the back-up of someone like a marketing team to generate content or a large sales force. Cats are usually solitary hunters. They learn what areas are likely to generate the best results, position themselves where they can be sure of the most success, and even if they fail first time around, will go back again and again until they achieve what they set out to do.

The successful business will identify a gap in the market, seek out potential targets and martial their skills to achieve their goal.

3. Take time out for yourself

Anyone who owns a cat knows they sleep - a lot. The internet is full of pictures of cats sleeping in the most inopportune places. While we're not suggesting that sleeping through the working day is the way to get ahead in business, knowing when to 'keep your powder dry', and rest and recharge is key. There's a reason why stress and mental ill-health are one of the main causes of absence from work.

Taking time to relax and enjoying a good work-life balance will help ensure you stay healthy and ready to go when you need to. A cat understands the value of play. So should you.

4. Set your own benchmarks

The fundamental difference between cats and dogs is their desire to please. It could be argued that a dog's view of customer service is better than a cat's. After all, a dog will usually bend over backwards to make their owners happy. But hypothetically, if you were to throw a ball over a cliff for a dog, he's likely to bound over after it. Try that with a cat and he'll wander over to the side, look over and look back at you with a 'you kidding me?' expression.

The business lesson here is to know your own destination and stick to it. Asking customers (and your employees) for their ideas and opinions makes a lot of sense, but trying to take on too much and diluting your plans with complete disregard for your own interests and your own staff can actually be detrimental.

Listening to and acting on feedback needs to be wedded to a healthy respect both internally and externally - otherwise it might be your business that topples over the edge.

5. Enjoy your place in the sun

Wherever there's a sunbeam, there's a cat. After all the hard work is said and done, and the business is thriving, don't forget to enjoy it and make sure everyone knows about it before moving on to your next goal. Thank your employees when they've done a good job - it's good for morale and engagement, and externally publicize any wins for your business. Learn from your furry friend who will often drop the fruits of their labors at your feet, with a 'look what I've done' swagger in their step.

Recognize success. A simple “thank you” can go a long way to make your employees feel valued, while publicizing your business successes – award wins, helping the community, a great customer testimonial - can help you attract new business and retain existing customers.