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Start-up Story: Doggy Daycare

Doggy Daycare provides a great service for dog owners, when at work, holidays and also when they need training advice. It is unique service in my area with the full backing of the local vets.

Why did I start

I had been unemployed since May 2010. I turned to The Prince’s Trust with an idea of setting up a dog walking and training service for the Ballymena area of Northern Ireland, and with The Trust’s support, I have set up Doggy Daycare.

After being made redundant from a factory job, I struggled to find work. I was claiming Jobseekers Allowance week after week and was feeling frustrated. Being unemployed was a difficult time for me. I was applying for all kinds of jobs. I had been in work since I left school and had gone from one job to the other very easily. So when the recession hit and I was made redundant, I found it a very hard time.

Having always loved dogs, and owning three of his own, I knew that dog walking & training would be a job I would enjoy. I applied to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise program and was immediately called to set up his application. I took part in the Explore Enterprise course where he learnt the basics of business.

With loan of £3,300 and a business mentor from The Trust to set up Doggy Daycare, I was able to set up my business. I bought a van, paid for flyers for my business, I even added my own brand (Doggy Daycare) Pet products . In addition, I opened my own day centre for dogs where people drop their dogs off for the day. I had left school without any qualifications, I didn’t see the importance of school.

But now I am running my own business, I have since studied and gained a Diploma in Behaviour and Psychology, which is an equivalent to an A-level. Being made redundant turned out to be the best thing that happened to me, as it meant that I could start my business. I am now doing something that I am passionate about and everything that I do is for myself rather than someone else’s company. I have since expand and opened Ballymenas first ever Pet hotel, where I provide a holiday for dogs where there owners are away on holidays.

Where do I see it going

I see my Brand being franchised UK wide in the future, as I have my own brand of products – shampoos, perfumes, disinfectants. I have the experience of setting up thee daycare centre. I also have the experience of being a dog trainer as well as the whole package to sell to a customer. I regularly get people from UK and have even been contacted from Australia to ask for advice how to set up simialr business and asks for help. I would like to develop my own brand products and market and reach more customers, and possibly of franchising the Doggy Daycare brand.

What I have learned

You always have to look for things to add on to your business to make it grow. And try to make your business stand out from other which offers similar service. I have learned to concentrate on sending the dogs home having a happy experience and my reputation grows constantly.

Tips for other businesspeople starting out

If you have vision work hard and its possible. My visions worked out as I planed. I stated from vision of walking, training dogs and then moved to Daycare center and then moved to next level of starting the pet hotel. So, I guess all along I have been identifying gaps in the market were there is a need for that service.

Written by Mark Stewart. For more information visit http://www.doggydaycareni.com/.

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