We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrice Kuiken and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patrice, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Over time I have gotten much better about balancing running my business and having a life. When my business first started, it was just me and cash was tight. Automating things often required a monthly subscription which I just couldn’t afford, so I did everything myself. Then things picked up and I was struggling to stay on top of emails, inquiries, current clients, etc. I didn’t take days off and was running myself into the ground. It was exhausting, and not as fun as when I started my business! I finally hired an independent contractor to help, and for a time that relieved a bit of the stress. She is wonderful, dedicated, and talented. I created boundaries and gave myself two days off a week! I didn’t check emails or return calls those days because my independent contractor could take care of them. But because my processes all still required 100% human involvement, things started piling up again. It’s really tough when you are on that treadmill to get off and rearrange some things to give yourself more time, but it is so important. I would forget to call my parents or sister for weeks. I wouldn’t have time to go out with friends, or if I did have time, I was too tired to do it. Honestly, it was this global pandemic that halted my business for a bit and allowed me to make some much needed changes. I finally invested the money into automating some processes. I overhauled my intake process. Some of these changes are still in progress, but I can already feel the difference. A big part of allowing a work life balance was to let go of some control. This is really difficult for me, because my business is my baby, my identity, my livelihood. But it is vital to being happy in both your work and your life. I am trying to make my relationships with family and friends a priority and maintain those boundaries with my business when I am not “at work”. Some days I do better than others. I think the most important thing to keep the balance going is schedule time for your “life” and really stick to it. Don’t allow excuses to get in the way- the work will always be there waiting for you when you get back!
What should our readers know about your business?
Thankfully, my business is founded on my passion for dogs and dog training. Training dogs (and their people) is a mixture of art and science that allows me to continually learn and be creative at the same time. This fuels my desire to keep going, even when things are tough. I am excited about developing new ways to help a variety of people. Not everyone can afford private dog training services, but I am working on developing more online courses as a way to make that information more accessible, while still being helpful and effective. As anyone will tell you, building a business is not easy by a long shot! You have to hear no so many times, feel failure and yet pick yourself back up every time and start again. I think the key to success is not willing to stop, believing there is always another option, another way to get to success. And you have to love what you do because that is what gets you through the hard times. My brand is about helping dogs and their people have happy lives together. Many changes in your dog’s behavior is about understanding them better and providing for their needs. Helping people understand why their dogs do what they do and help change that in a positive way is my favorite thing about my job.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ahh, my favorite spots in the city! I can’t wait to go back to visiting these places when things level out a bit. I enjoy a well made cocktail, so there are a couple fun speakeasy style places I highly recommend if you are feeling fancy. Williams and Graham is my favorite, and another good spot is The Green Russell. On another night, if we were feeling more casual, I’d go to First Draft Taproom and Kitchen. Here you get to pour your own beer and try out as many as you like. I love variety so this is a really fun place to try out! The Bardo Coffee House would also be somewhere we would have to hit. Coffee plus art and a fun atmosphere keeps bringing me back here. At this time of year (Christmas) we absolutely would go to see the Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo. Beautiful and you can get hot drinks to keep you warm. A really fun experience. Though it may sound boring to some, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is actually a really fun place. They even have special exhibits that rotate so there is usually something new to experience. I enjoy this place for a day hangout.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a couple difference sources of support that helped me be where I am today. A big one is my family, especially my sister, who to this day does weekly accountability meetings with me to continue building our businesses. Sarah has really kept me going, even when things were tough and I am so grateful for her support. My parents are also huge supporters, so a huge shoutout to them! Another shoutout goes to my original mentor, Troy Mills. He hired me as his obedience instructor and once he decided to step back from his business, he helped guide me in starting my own. Without him, I would be in a very different place with my business.
Uhli Photography (2015)