Mud Bay New Businesses Q&A

See if we've covered your questions below. If not, we want to hear from you!

Why is Mud Bay changing its business model?

Mud Bay's business model has changed very little over the last 29 years.  When Mud Bay's strategic planning team (The Twenty) was tasked with creating a business model for Mud Bay in 2020, we concluded that the mission that has long driven Mud Bay (contributing to the health of dogs and cats and the happiness of those who care for them while building a strong company we're proud of) can encompass much more than giving advice and selling food and supplies inside retail stores.  We also realized that it makes a lot of sense for Mud Bay to fulfill customers' expectations that we will allow them to buy things digitally and receive them at home or at curbside.  We also realized that expanding our business model will create lots of valuable new opportunities for Muddies. 

What opportunities will there be for Muddies as new businesses ramp up?

Right now, our first three New Business Entrepreneurs are hard at work creating visions of Mud Bay's new businesses. The next Muddies to become involved with new businesses will be the New Business Integrators. These are representative from several home office departments and soon, from stores and store operations. Their role will be to help bring the new businesses into the Mud Bay fold. As the new businesses evolve and grow there will be opportunities for many kinds of service providers from dog washers to catifiers, , delivery drivers to digital experience managers, and so much more!  

What will being a New Business Entrepreneur (NBE) entail?

Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats and doing lots of different things.  It might be a good fit for those who get bored doing the same thing day after day, and for people who want to understand the why behind everything they do.  It may not be the best fit for someone who prefers predictability and regularity in their work.  There is no way to know everything our NBEs will be doing, but here five things we think they'll spend a lot of their time on: 1) Talking and working with potential and actual customers; 2) Collaborating and communicating with other Muddies; 3) Learning lots of stuff; 4) Analyzing and synthesizing information; 5) Designing, inventing and tweaking approaches and processes. 

Will the New Business Entrepreneurs (NBEs) be working on all the new services or just one?

Initially, all three NBEs will be working together as a team on developing all three of Mud Bay's new services.  As we move from researching and testing ideas to beginning to operate service businesses, some specialization may (or may not) occur.

Will NBEs be working by themselves?

NBEs will work very collaboratively. NBEs will collaborate with: other NBEs, Lars and Linda, New Business Integrators (the Muddies who will play lead roles in harnessing Mud Bay's resources to support our new service businesses) as well as the Muddies who are helping our NBEs actually deliver services to customers.


Do candidates for the NBE positions need to have previous experience starting their own businesses? 

We will learn and master the varied skills of entrepreneurship together. Lars, Linda and our NBEs will all be going through an initial Mud Bay course in entrepreneurship (developed by Lars and Linda) together.  Experience starting another business may be useful, but it definitely isn't necessary.


Will NBEs be Mud Bay employees?

Absolutely! The other name for an entrepreneur who works within a larger business structure is intrapreneur. We chose to keep the entrepreneur moniker to differentiate between our New Business Entrepreneurs (NBEs) with our future New Business Integrators (NBIs). You can see why.


Do NBE candidates have to be current Muddies? 

We will be advertising this position outside Mud Bay, and we will consider candidates who are not currently Muddies. Mud Bay loves to promote from within, and we will be quite happy if all of our NBEs come from within Mud Bay.  Still, our goal is to fill our three NBE roles with the people who are most likely to succeed in these roles.  And if our pursuit of the best possible NBEs for Mud Bay means that one or more of our NBEs come from outside Mud Bay, then we'll be quite happy with that result too.  Some of the research on internal entrepreneurship indicates that the strongest intrapreneurial teams often combine insiders and outsiders, and we'll be keeping this research in mind.

Will NBEs have a financial stake in the new businesses they create?

NBEs will have the same kind of stake that every other Mud Bay owner-operator will have in our new businesses: as participants in Mud Bay's ESOP, we all have ownership stakes in everything Mud Bay does.  Our new service businesses will have the resources of Mud Bay behind them because they will be part of Mud Bay and owned by Mud Bay's shareholders (including Mud Bay's Employee Stock Ownership Plan).

Are the NBE jobs secure?  What happens if a new business doesn't work?  Or if someone hired to be an NBE isn't really cut out to be an entrepreneur? 

Mud Bay doesn't have employment contracts with anyone. That means that everymuddy is free to decide to leave Mud Bay and Mud Bay is free to decide to part ways with each of us.  On the other hand (as we all know), Mud Bay wants to hold on to great staff for a long time and to build lifetime careers for Muddies who want to spend their careers with us.  So if a Muddy in a different Mud Bay role becomes an NBE and things don't work out for one reason or another, then we'll work to find a different Mud Bay role for them--hopefully a role they'll like as much as, or more than the role they had in the first place.

What is the expected start date for NBEs?

Our goal is for the NBEs to begin working in their new roles during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Will this be a full-time, salaried position w/benefits?  Will it be a promotion for a current Muddy?  

NBE is a full-time, salaried role, and it carries the same benefits as other similar full-time, salaried roles at Mud Bay.  Whether it will be a promotion for a current Muddy depends on the position someone leaves to become a NBE.


Will this be a temporary position?  

We're not sure.  On the one hand, there's a good chance, but definitely not a guarantee, that some or all of our NBEs will move into leadership roles in our new service businesses.  That means they'll probably pass through the NBE role into a new role like manager, director or lead.  On the other hand, there's a pretty good chance that we may need to recruit additional NBEs in the future in order to lead the invention of other new businesses, including other Mud Bay service businesses.  And we may want one or more of our NBEs to work with, and mentor, the additional NBEs we recruit.


Where will NBEs work?

NBEs will work in a variety of places. They'll have desks, computers, phones, whiteboards and a conference table in Mud Bay's Home Office in Olympia, and they'll spend a lot of time there.  They'll also spend a lot of time in the field, talking with potential customers, working with actual customers, operating our fledgling service businesses and working with the other Muddies who are part of our service operations.  To maximize the effectiveness of the NBEs and the Home Office staff who will be supporting and working with them, we expect most or all of the early service operations will take place in Thurston County.


Will NBEs read lots of books?

That depends on the definition of "lots".  There will definitely be some reading involved.  Also watching videos and doing online research. Being an effective entrepreneur is as much about learning as it is about doing.


If an NBE candidate already has lots of experience in running their own business, will they still have more to learn?

Probably so.  Here are some of the disciplines that Lars, Linda and the NBEs will be delving deeply into: Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Design, Customer Development and Blue Ocean Strategy. 


Do NBE candidates need to have lots of experience with both dogs and cats?

We're expecting that all three of our NBEs will be dog nerds or cat nerds.  And we expect that at least two of them will be both dog nerds and cat nerds.  The reason is that our NBEs need to be become experts in all of the different wants, needs and desires of cats, dogs and their owners.  And it's a lot easier to understand wants, needs and desires that you have some personal experience with.


If someone is shy or has social anxiety, can they still be considered for an NBE role?

It has been observed that Mud Bay is a company of introverts.  Or, more precisely, that Mud Bay has more introverts than you'd expect at a retailer.  This probably makes sense since Mud Bay focuses on helping people solve problems, not on selling them stuff.  In any case, there are a lot of great Muddies who aren't especially extroverted, and we think that being a great NBE doesn't in any way require being an extrovert.  Still, NBEs will work closely with other NBEs, Lars and Linda, lots of other Muddies in the home office and in the field and with potential and actual customers.  So candidates who are uncomfortable with other people probably won't be a good fit for this role.

Will NBEs need specific computer or software skills?

NBEs will definitely use Microsoft Word and Excel, and they will probably use a number of more specialized kinds of software.  


How do I apply? (Please note: effective 10-5-2017, we are no longer accepting applications for NBEs.)

First, call or email Lars or Linda.  Let us know you're interested and ask us any questions that have occurred to you.  Then, if you're not currently a muddy, you just need to email your resume and a letter explaining what attracts you to the position and why you think you're a good fit for it.  If you're currently a muddy, your first step is to talk with the muddy who leads your team: tell them you want to apply and ask them to email Linda a letter recommending you for the position (if they have questions about the position, encourage them to call Lars or Linda).  After your conversation, email your resume and a letter explaining what attracts you to the position and why you think you're a good fit for it.  

NBE doesn't sound like the right thing for me. What other opportunities might there be in Services?

Sometime after we fill the NBE roles, we expect to begin recruiting New Business Integrators (NBIs) to lead the support and integration of these new services with the rest of Mud Bay.  At some point, we will also begin recruiting people to help provide services such as dog washing, grooming, dog walking, cat sitting, product delivery etc.  As Mud Bay services grow, there may be additional openings at the Home Office for business support positions.  And once our initial services are up and running, we'll begin working on additional services that we can offer.  In short, we anticipate lots of opportunities for current and future Muddies in the years to come! 

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