Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet training but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Karen Bunston, Owner of Blue Dog Canine Services, located in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Blue Dog promotes "happy dog training," which means using force-free and reward-based training developed using the latest science and evidence. In other words, training that's kind, fun, and achieves great results. I offer a range of online and offline products and services to support puppy and dog parents, and I work with them to find solutions to their puppy or dog challenges, using easy-to-do-at-home training games and enrichment activities. Blue Dog was named after my Kerry Blue Terriers Bo and Missy.
Tell us about yourself
After experiencing some behaviour and training challenges with my own dog Missy, I started reading and studying dog training and behaviour, so I could help her. I found this fascinating, and I was able to apply what I had learned and put things in place to help her. This was a lightbulb moment for me, and I knew that I wanted to be in a position to help other pups, dogs, and humans with their struggles too! I decided to have a complete change of direction in my career, and I retrained and qualified as a dog trainer and behaviour advisor.
With support from my mentor Steve Mann (world-renowned dog trainer and chair of the Institute Of Modern Dog Trainers), I launched Blue Dog in 2015. Since then, I have personally supported and helped many hundreds of people improve their relationship and bond with their dogs, understand what makes their dog tick, and learn how they can help their dogs be happier and calmer and thrive in the family home. Seeing the real-life results of the people and dogs I work with still gives me such a buzz and motivates me every single day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking the leap into the unknown and following my heart! I left a well-paid, secure job and started over again from scratch. I put a lot of hard work into establishing Blue Dog, which has resulted in it becoming a successful, respected, and award-winning dog training business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Accepting that there's no such thing as an overnight success, it takes a lot of hard work, and you are dealt many blows and disappointments along the way. So you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and come back stronger!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find your niche and focus on how you can be the best you can possibly be in this area of work.
- Don't be afraid to fail. Give things a go, try new things, and learn valuable lessons from things that didn't work as well as things that did. Don't let the fear of failure hold you back.
- Be clear about who your customers are, and make sure that all of your marketing talks directly to them.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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