Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Claire Downie, Founder of Dog Tales, located in Dundee, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a Dog trainer. I offer 121 sessions and training classes in Dundee and Perthshire. I also have online training courses for people to learn at their own pace in the comfort of their own homes. Finally, I am a qualified Dog First Aid instructor and regularly hold workshops for pet professionals and dog owners.
My customers range from first-time puppy owners wanting help, advice, and coaching to help their new family members settle into their families to pensioners who, although knowledgable and experienced, are now struggling to teach their dogs for many different reasons. I enjoy the challenge of adapting the training to suit the family I am working with. I like working with all dogs, as no two are the same.
Tell us about yourself
Working with animals was always the dream. I studied Zoology and Animal Welfare Science at uni and, once I graduated, got a job as a dog trainer with the Dogs Trust. Then, I worked for five years at a busy dog daycare caring for the dogs and taking part in training classes. When one of the dogs at the daycare, called Kipper, was looking for a new home, I jumped at the chance to adopt him.
Kipper is from Romania and had some challenging behaviors at first. I took many courses and classes to learn how to best look after him, train him and be the best person possible for him; I also found myself helping others with their dogs more and more.
When Kipper broke his leg in a freak accident when we were on holiday to Orkney, it was a horrible and stressful experience. I became a Dog First Aid instructor to be better prepared in the future and help others to be prepared too.
Being a business owner is hard sometimes; having to do all the tasks yourself can be very draining. Sometimes it causes me to question why I do this. But then I help people become more confident, and dogs be happier, and I feel fulfilled, and I am motivated to continue doing what I do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Helping other start-up trainers to improve their skills, gain experience, and follow their dreams.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The uncertainty of not having a regular income can be tough. Everything is always changing, which is good because there are new opportunities that come with it. But it does mean that you can't rely on things lasting, and you have to adapt quickly to the change too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get a business plan and review it regularly.
- Get outside help for the tasks you don't like or are not good at.
- Take time off regularly. Working 24/7 is not good for you, your business, or your family.
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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