Kim Kochman

Owner of Manor Lake Labradoodles

Manor Lake Australian Labradoodles is well-known for producing quality multi-generational Australian Labradoodle puppies, great for homes that need asthma and allergy-friendly, non-shedding dogs. At the head of this family-run business is Kim Kochman, a former antique shop owner, and a present-day real estate company owner. Kim has a business degree in marketing and a passion for helping people. She decided on breeding Australian Labradoodles after conducting research for a type of dog that would not aggravate severe allergies, as several of her family members suffered from hypersensitivity to dog dander. Kim founded the business in 2003.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

When I started the business, the house we lived in at the time looked very much like an Old English Manor House and it was also on a lake, so the name itself was fairly easy to come up with. The idea behind breeding Australian Labradoodles came from my desire to have a dog, but needing one that would not aggravate the allergies or asthma that some members of my family deal with. One of the best selling points for this breed is that they are allergy-friendly and non-shedding. That can mean the difference between being able to own a dog or not for so many people.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I feel like I never really get to sit down, but I am a pacer anyway. There is always something that needs to be done, from feeding and walking the dogs, to picking up poop, to making sure the administrative duties are covered, to talking on the phone with clients. I use lists a lot to make sure I get to everything done throughout the day. Generally, I am working on about five things at once and I am banned from drinking more than one cup of coffee.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have always been a hard driver. I love setting goals and making them a reality. I swear I have thought of ideas in my dreams and then woken up the next day trying to figure out how to make them real. I will research what has already been done with regard to any plans and find ways to improve upon previous methods, if necessary. I’m detail-oriented and I don’t like surprises, so I like to plan very thoroughly. I like to plan for any possible outcome because it will happen.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One of the things I do in my spare time is build and remodel homes to become beachfront vacation rentals. This way, I get to use the home and enjoy it once in a while but still earn rental income. I am always looking for unique and handmade items to include in the homes. I recently found some cute hand-painted wooden flip-flops that a local artist had turned into wall hooks. I love the trend of people looking for that more personalized vacation experience. Especially with the pandemic, families are more hesitant to stay at hotels or other crowded areas. I love decorating and staging the houses. Making them into a unique vacation rental experience is rewarding. We even managed to get one of our fixers on HGTV.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Well, quite honestly, I write everything down. If I have a to-do list as a visual aid to help me keep track of my tasks throughout the day, I can get things done easier. It’s very helpful to have a list handy because my work days can get hectic, and if I don’t write things down, I might forget what needs to be done.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To believe in yourself. When I was younger, I struggled with self-confidence. As I grew older, my self-confidence grew as I accomplished more goals. If I could go back in time and tell myself to believe in myself more and know that whatever I dreamt could become reality, I think that would have made my younger years a bit easier. A lot of people are their own worst enemies because they don’t really believe they can accomplish something big, when in reality, with enough persistence, you can.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that no matter how long something has been done a certain way, there is almost always a new and more efficient way to do it. I am all about working smarter, not harder. If I learn something new, one of the first things I do is try to find a way to make the process easier. It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, you can almost always find ways to make it better.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Whenever I think I am done with my day, I do three more things. It’s a good strategy to make sure you stay on top of things. I just look at my list and cross off three more items. Another very important thing, and one I think that many people forget about, is taking care of yourself. At least once a week, I make sure to do something just for me. I will work out or go boating. You need to recharge your batteries or you will wear yourself out. You have to have fun with life.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

People have sought our help as they have started their own breeding programs and adopted their foundation dogs from us. We strive to produce quality puppies with great temperaments who are the whole package; well put-together and structurally beautiful. That has made us well-recognized in the industry.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Gathering all the relevant tax information for filing as a business when I was just starting out was a bit daunting. There are a lot of administrative tasks that go on in the background with any small business that you don’t even consider when you are new to it. I spoke with a lot of small business owners to get a decent understanding of how to get those things up and running. Finding a good accountant was the most effective way to overcome it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Something I thought would be an interesting idea is renting out houseboats to AirBnB clients. I’ve seen a few of them online already, and it’s something that I think would be a unique vacation experience.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I took the staff out to dinner not too long ago. I like to do that every once in a while. It gets us out of the office setting and everyone has a lot of fun. It gives us the opportunity to bond outside of work, and everyone loves a great meal. Our holiday party this year is at TopGolf–we get to golf, challenge each other, as well as eat and drink.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use a software program specifically designed for breeders that determines the coefficient inbreeding percentages in trial matings breeding dogs. It’s invaluable to our business and it lets you virtually breed the dogs together so you can analyze the pedigree for many generations.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

For anyone who is interested in becoming a dog breeder, I would recommend The Dog Breeder’s Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management by Margaret Root Kustritz. It’s chock full of everything you need to know if you want to breed puppies professionally.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it you can become it.” — William Arthur Ward

Key Learnings:

  • ● Believe in yourself. Anything you can envision can become reality.
  • ● Take time to recharge. You will perform your job more effectively if you are well-rested.
  • ● Work hard and get up early. There is simply no substitute for this.