Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Colin West, Founder of Colin’s Pack, located in Santa Monia, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business has a mission of improving and changing the lives of dogs and uplifting the world both by helping dogs and their owners and by sharing those stories on social media in an attempt to uplift the lives of those that resonate with it.
Our primary service is dog pack hikes, which I believe I want of the best ways to satisfy so many areas of a dog’s life – socializing, exercising, exploring, and basically getting to go out and experience the natural world and create memories/live life with familiar dogs that become their extended family. It’s deeply fulfilling both to them and to myself. Dogs usually come home exhausted and satisfied.
Right now, we are hiking on a 100+ acre property in Malibu, equipped with fresh water tubs and shade/rest areas, and it’s truly a dream come true. A big thank you and blessings to Fred and Jenna P. for making that possible.
Tell us about yourself
I think everyone comes into this world with their own interests and affinities, and for whatever reason, I have always been very interested in nature and animals and understanding how it all works. I was originally obsessed with the Crocodile Hunter and National Geographic in general, and once “The Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Millan came out on National Geographic, I was hooked. I loved his philosophy and way of seeing the dogs as animals first and understanding their psychology as social predators. I was in college at the time, with one dog, and I adopted another female not long after (named Layla, who is still my right-hand girl and happier than ever.) After a roommate adopted a puppy, I was living my small-scale dream of becoming the dog whisper raising three black Pit Bulls, and having lots of problems with aggression (which eventually led me to find Brandon Fouche many years later, who was able to give me the understanding I needed to socialize my female Layla and save her life. But that’s a story for another time.) I was living with nine guys in a house, a snake, and three dogs and living the pack life on multiple levels.
I graduated in 2009, and with the economy in bad shape, I had many quiet moments alone thinking about what I was going to do with my life. The idea of starting a dog hiking business would jump into my mind very strongly, but I would push it aside with the intention of finding a “real job/career.” Eventually, though, I decided to go for it, figuring that if I failed, I would have something interesting to put on my résumé. I quickly learned that I love this life, and working with dogs is what I wanted to do. Though there were many difficult phases and learning periods, I pushed through and came out the other end closer to the ideal that I had envisioned than before.
I’ve gone through many phases and levels of learning and evolving, and while my interest was much more egocentric at the beginning (I wanted to be the main man, I wanted to be in charge of my life, I wanted to be the leader, me, me, me, etc.), my goal now is to help as many dogs as possible, and to be there as a resource for others, in an attempt to sharpen my skills, increase my knowledge, and give everything that I have to this life and back to this world. I think when it’s all said and done, looking at life from a birdseye view, this is one of the most rewarding decisions that someone can take, and it seems to be a decision that many of the people that I admire have taken.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishments as a business owner are yet to come, so I don’t want to speak on that too much at the moment. I think in general, conducting myself and running my business in the way that I have while keeping my integrity, doing what I believe is right for many years, and getting the business to the level it is on, where it is helping as many dogs as it is, I would label those things my biggest accomplishments to date.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think one of the hardest things that come as a business owner is really just a combination of everything. You have to have a vision for where you’re doing and how you like to conduct yourself, continue to put your foot on the gas, continue to learn about your work and about yourself, find solutions to reoccurring problems and analyze why they happened, as well as do a good job every day, and do the chores of your business every day. The chores and reoccurring parts of your business may account for 90% of your efforts, but if you don’t do the other 10%, like planning and investing yourself, your business may not get where you want it to be. So you have to put your head down and focus on what you’re doing and work hard, but also pick your head back up to make sure you’re on track and investing your time and energy in the right places.
I remember watching a navy seal be asked a similar question – what is the hardest part of navy seal training? He responded something along the lines of, “Just the relentless day-to-day and never-ending grind. No one day or one thing is the hardest.” A short period of it may be difficult, but the relentlessness of all the days stacked together is what he believed was the hardest. I think it’s the same with business and in life – a very long marathon, mixed with some periods of very acute and intense stress and crisis.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give tips, but three tips that I would give to anyone looking to start a business would be:
- This is probably going to take much more time and effort than you were planning on, so it’s important that your personality and your interests align well with the business. I think we are like plants, and you want to plant yourself in a place where your plant will grow best. That will also give you a competitive edge and let you stick in the fight when things get tough.
- I would try to pay attention to where the world is going and if your business will be relevant in 10 years. It’s a very scary thing that the world is evolving so quickly. It can be scary and also great, depending on where you are positioned. It’s a very sad and terrifying thing to swim up a river that eventually is going to dry up, and many industries are changing and will continue to change dramatically. I empathize with all people who get stuck in difficult situations, and some intense forethought that could help you avoid that situation is well worth it, I think.
- Continue to learn and grow always. I don’t believe most businesses will be able to evolve past the personal evolution of their founder(s). Those are my current thoughts. I am a student in this life, but those are some things I feel I’ve learned. I would strongly recommend Grant Cardone‘s “The 10X Rule” for business owners.
Where can people find you and your business?
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