Michael Schoeff – pet product designer and entrepreneur from Johnstown, Ohio
Michael Schoeff tells us about the lessons he’s learned in his entrepreneurial journey in pet product design
1.Choose your partner wisely
You might think that you don’t need to do that or that you trust your intuition. Think of the person you’re going to work with as your “work-wife”. Contract agreements are a legally binding agreement and, if things don’t go OK, you could end up really burned.
Make sure that your partner complements your skill-set. Gary Rybka and Michael Schoeff have proven to be a great duo when working on their Pup-Pee Poo Palace project. Gary knows just about anything when it comes to puppies from a medical and behavioral point of view, while Michael Schoeff, being a wiz himself in the behavioral aspects of puppies, provided the entrepreneurial know-how that he accumulated over the years running different projects in the field.
2. Nothing steals the fun out of a start-up like expensive or high overhead
Try to think in terms of ROI (Return on Investment) and see your business thrive slowly but surely. Scale when you have the right formula.
3. Don’t be afraid of hard work
Obvious as it may be, it’s imperative that you understand that work will often be very daunting. At times you’re going to want to give up because the road is rocky, the mountain is steep, you can’t see the top and you have to get there.
4. Throw your pride down the window
You’ll have to do anything and everything it takes to be successful. Know that times can get tough. Swallow your pride and be prepared to make sacrifices in your social and romantic life. Even sleeping hours could experience a cut. Michael Schoeff reduced his weekly gatherings with friends and had to quit golfing and chess in order to make time for even more work.
5. Letting go is always tough
Knowing when it’s time to realize and act on the fact that your start-up is failing. There comes a time to “shoot the bleeding dog” and know that you have to move on. This may be very difficult for a lot of people because, after all, you put your soul, your money, your time and your expectations in this one thing that will bring you financial freedom.. only to “dump” it after a few months..? Nevertheless, you got to do what is right and move on. Your mind will be clearer and you’ll have more space to imagine the next steps of your future business.
6. Look for opportunity everywhere
One of Michael Schoeff’s main beliefs is that you shouldn’t do what everyone else is doing. You should judge for yourself and judge right. Don’t assume, look for numbers wherever possible and try to find unsaturated industries where supply is low.
7. Hire smart
Surround yourself with good people that you want to be around with, people with good moral character and compasses. Being appreciative and treating people with respect, respecting and expressing gratitude are qualities that will have a positive effect on your workplace. Michael Schoeff’s most valued collaborator, mr. Rybka, has been at the backbone of his business and contributed to its success.
8. Be honest and ethical
Have character, a good solid moral compass. In the end, it pays to do the right thing.
9. Success isn’t what you think it is when you first start out.
And it’s not an easy road, but it’s totally worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
10. Last and most important is that you do what you love.
You can easily spend 14 hours a day in front of the desk when you know that it’s something that you actually enjoy. When you love what you do. You do it with maximum efficiency and ingenuity.
I know that a lot of you out there like the idea of starting a business and being an entrepreneur. It’s not easy, you’ll make a lot of sacrifices, have some unsuccessful businesses that are disguised as “failure”, but, in fact, aren’t. They are your most valuable lessons.
Michael Schoeff: “The most important lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that, the moment that you give up, that’s when you have truly failed.”