A little back-story: before I ventured into the dog training world I worked in digital design & marketing for 15 years. I chose a profession right out of high school, went to college and then hit the ground running. Working in advertising agencies isn’t as glamorous as movies make it out to be. I grew tired of sitting at a desk and making money for other people with my work. I wasn’t making a difference in the world, my personal satisfaction in my career was at -500. I knew it was time for a change. And so, I embarked on a new career and the world of entrepreneurship.
I will give you some insight into my process and how I would have done things differently, if I knew better!
I would have ensured my business structure was solid
Training humans and dogs is only a small part of creating a successful business. The moving parts that work together to create a business that is not only solid, but is profitable, is something many pet professionals don’t prioritize. Ensuring you have solidified your policies, procedures, booking processes, payment structure, waivers, business banking, insurance…. all of these things must be prioritized. Deciding how much overhead you can carry, how much profit you intend to make and where the business will grow in upcoming years are all things to consider.
You don’t have to have all the answers at once, but a business plan can help you get there. Reach out if you need help!
I would have hired people to help me sooner
Imposter syndrome is a real beast. The first handful of years I suffered in silence, analyzing every case, every client and every detail. Becoming sick about whether the outcome of a case was something I could control. If I had only reached out sooner to someone to mentor me, to guide me through the sticky spots and let me know that what I was feeling was normal it would have saved me so much turmoil.
In addition to mentorship with cases I wish I had hired a business coach. Initially I could not justify the cost because I had just started my business. I sure wished I would have known how much time and money it would have saved me. I don’t think I knew where I would even find a business coach that knew about dog training and behavior. Our business is so niche that it really helps to have someone who knows the ins and outs of this business.
I would screened potential clients better
Initially, I would work with ANYONE who would hire me. BIG MISTAKE! I took on clients and cases that were so draining, taxing and heart-wrenching that I went through horrible cycles of burn-out. I was so concerned with building my business that I didn’t stop to think that it could potentially destroy me. I was spending a great deal of time trying to convince clients why using force-free training was our best option and negotiating with them whether they would follow the advice they had hired me for. This would not have happened if I had made it very clear my methods, tools I will and will not use and deal-breakers in several places on my website and throughout the sign-up process.
I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself
Big one. I didn’t give myself much grace. I figured if I was “better”, took more courses and education (I’ve capped myself now at well over $50k now) and was more experienced I would be doing a better job. WRONG. I was doing my very best, more than most, and I had to learn to let go and move on after working on cases that I may have felt didn’t have the desired outcome.
I wish I would have known that I cannot control 98 percent of what my clients decide to do after our sessions and find some peace with that.
I hope that some of these words give you some direction and comfort. Remember, you’re never alone in this!