Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Billot, Founder of Bone Ball Bark, located in London, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Bone Ball Bark, a force-free dog training and behavior company based in West London. I work 1 to 1 with clients who have just gotten a new puppy, an older dog that needs general training, and also behavioral modification cases such as leash aggression.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Jennifer, and I live with my partner Kevan and our two-year-old Labrador Griffin! I first got started in the dog training industry when I was 19 when I volunteered in the kennels at a Guide Dog school. I went on to work for two years in Hawaii with Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, training purpose-bred labradors and golden retrievers for people with muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries and accompanying victims of crime into courtrooms and medical exams. I went on to work for Assistance Dogs Northwest in Washington state while doing my Masters's degree in Canine Sciences!
I moved back to London in 2017 and set up Bone Ball Bark, as I felt I could put all my training and education to good use by helping people raise and train their dogs for city living. My company ensures that each client works with their dog in 3 areas:
- Bone- Health and Nutrition
- Ball- Play and Socialisation
- Bark- Training and Problem-Solving
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to diversify services as the business has grown, especially through COVID! What started as just offering a package of training sessions has become online self-paced courses, video call sessions, partnerships with other brands, and more! To have to organize and be in charge of all this myself has taught me all aspects of business ownership and the need to get things done regardless of how hard they might feel. It is very empowering to have grown from the ground a business that I love and that financially supports me in an expensive city!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The emotional and physical toll of working with animals and people can be very draining. You go to bed at night thinking about the client's dogs and wake up thinking about them too. The buck stops with you every time.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Surround yourself with a network of people that can be supportive not just in the sense of talking through business admin but also emotionally too. I have a wonderful group of friends and peers that also work in the dog industry, and they are a wonderful sounding board for anything and everything.
- Be prepared for things to not work. It is hard when you put lots of time and effort into a project or product that doesn't get the traction you thought it would. Learn from this, and keep going!
- Social media is important for pretty much any business, but be careful that it doesn't overtake everything. I find myself on my business Instagram at 7 am on a Sunday and 10 pm on a Wednesday night. However, 90% of my client base doesn't come from social media but from my other avenues of marketing and referrals, so I should be putting my time and effort into those and not Insta-Stories!
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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