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Starting a Dog Business: How to Take the Leap

Holly Leake
You've always wanted to work with dogs.
In fact, it's been a dream of yours for as long as you can remember.
When you are stuck in a job that leaves you feeling unfulfilled, you likely daydream about what it would be like to be your own boss. But then you remember the risks and all the pressure involved. Will your business be successful? Will you be financially stable? Will you be good at it? In all honesty, changing career paths and starting a business is incredibly daunting because it takes both financial and emotional investment. So how do you conquer that fear and take the leap?

Find Your Passion

"Passion is the difference between having a job and having a career."- Unknown

First of all, are you truly passionate about working with dogs and running your own business? There is a huge distinction between loving dogs and loving working with them. No matter what capacity you work with dogs, it is by no means a glamorous job. In fact, you often have days where you are bruised, covered in fur and dirty from muddy paw prints. If you work as a dog walker, this will require working long hours in all weathers, which can be exhausting.

Running a business is a full-time job. So much time will need to be spent on advertising and promoting your business, to build up your client base. Therefore, you must be truly passionate about dogs, in order to be willing to put in unpaid hours of work into your business. You also need to decide what capacity you want to work with dogs. Do you want to just care for them? Walk them? Groom them? Or do you want to train them? If you're not sure, it would be helpful to find another local dog professional and ask if you can volunteer to get a feel for the job and determine if you actually enjoy it, before making any big decisions. While there may be many in your community offering the same services, true passion for the job and the dogs you work, with will distinguish you from the rest and inspire you to be the best in the business.

Be Realistic

“It’s not about having expectations because we all do. It’s about managing your expectations and being realistic. – Mr Moe Love

Before taking the leap, consider if you have the skills to leave your current job and jump straight into your new job with dogs. If you want to be a dog trainer and decide to leave your current job, despite having no qualifications in dog training, you are taking an enormous risk. Although the dog training industry is currently unregulated, it's irresponsible and potentially damaging to offer training without any experience or qualifications. It's important to be realistic about your current skills and circumstances to avoid setting yourself up for failure.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to determine if you could start a canine care or dog training course that you can complete whilst staying in your current job. That way you have financial stability, whilst gaining qualifications and working towards your dream career. Remember that dog training is a journey, not a destination, so you need to be patient and avoid rushing into something you are not ready for. Building a business takes a lot of effort and so it’s important to have realistic expectations, to avoid disappointment. It also takes time and word of mouth, to get your name out there and develop a reputation. You may also have to work with dogs in a care capacity for years before becoming a dog trainer, in order to gain experience and establish yourself in the community. While its essential to have ambition, be realistic about what you can achieve and how long it will take to fulfil your goals.

Believe in Yourself

"The belief that you can have a meaningful career, is the first step to finding one." -Sean Aiken

Many shy away from pursuing the job of their dreams because they doubt themselves. If this is the case, you need to believe in yourself. Yes, it's important to consider the risks involved and be realistic about your abilities and circumstances, however; you shouldn't allow self-doubt to stop you from pursuing your dreams. If your age is stopping you, you should know that you are never too old to change careers. Staying within your comfort zone can be the enemy to progress (P.T Barnum) because it stops us from taking that leap of faith.

But are you really stepping out of your comfort zone or into your true zone? Is this what you were meant to do? If working with dogs is what you truly want to do and you are willing to put the time and work in, believe that you can do it! Believing in yourself is the first step towards having a career you love.

Achieving Success

"Success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people’s lives." - Michelle Obama

Finally, success is not necessarily dependent upon how much money you make. If your biggest ambition is to help as many dogs as possible, then that's how your success will be defined. For some, true success is just having a job that brings them joy and working with dogs does just that. Granted, you may depend on a certain amount of income, but having a job where you are truly making a difference is far more meaningful than profits.

Don’t measure your success by comparing yourself to others. Everyone has something unique to offer and we are all at different stages on our journey. If you compare yourself to others, you often convince yourself that you will never measure up, thereby stopping you from even trying. So, focus on your own goals and your own professional development, without dwelling on whether you are as successful as others in the same business.

The decision you make regarding your career can change the course of your life forever but until you actually try, you will never know if you can accomplish it. Remember the saying, "Until you spread your wings, you will never know if you can fly". Be true to yourself and take the leap of faith, with the knowledge that ambition is the first step towards success.

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