Today we’re talking to Alex about her experience of running a dog walking business.
Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
I’m Alex Taylor, wife to Chris and mummy to Lilia, 6, and Amber, 4.
What’s your business called?
My business is called Fetch Dog Walking and Home Boarding.
Can you describe it in one sentence?
It pretty much does what it says on the tin. A Dog walking business and a lovely holiday home for your doggies whilst you’re away.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I got made redundant from a large corporate insurance company last year which gave me the push I needed to start my own business. I never thought I could do it. Never thought I’d earn enough money, always thought I needed the security of an employer. How little I knew!!
How did you fund your start up?
I was really lucky (although some may call it hard work and perseverance rather than luck!) and put the word out through friends and family, and used the power that is social media to begin to advertise my services. So I didn’t really need much to fund things. I did however sell our family car and buy a van! A risk that has paid off!
How do you manage working around your children?
I manage my own diary, booking appointments for when the children are at school, and my dog walks are during school hours too. I arrange my diary and sort out all the admin bits once the girls are in bed. It’s full on but totally worth it.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I get woken up by my children around 6. I sort them out, at the same time as checking my diary for what’s in store for my day ahead. I answer any emails or texts I have whilst shouting to ‘brush your teeth!’ and ‘get your shoes on’! Some dogs are dropped off for daycare around 7.30 so they add to the fun while doing various Disney Princess hairstyles that have been requested for the day at school.
I take the girls to school then go straight out and collect the dogs for their walks. I average between 2 – 3 hour long walks per day, and in between pick up/drop home/wash down the muddy pups!
I work it out so that I’m home by 1ish, in time to grab some lunch, do some more admin, play with the dogs that are at my house on daycare, then it’s out to the school run again.
Evenings consist of sorting the kids out, playing with dogs (which the girls (and the dogs!) love), talking to clients and bedtime routines.
Once the girls are in bed, I begin to sort the follows days diary so I know who I’m walking and when.
What challenges have you faced in running a dog walking business and how have you overcome them?
Having always had a steady income, the thought of being self employed scared me to death. My biggest challenge has been learning to say no. The more I say yes, the more money I earn. But the more burnt out I get! So having a balance of days off to spend purely with my family is really important. I’m learning this slowly. (I need to improve!)
What’s the best thing about running a dog walking business?
Not having to answer to anyone but myself! Managing my own time, being treated like an adult. I’ve spent too many years dealing with corporate nonsense so working for myself is a breath of fresh air (quite literally with all the fresh air I’m getting!!).
What are the plans for your future?
I’d love to expand in the future, potentially have an employee or two, and really go from strength to strength. It’s still early days for me as I’ve been going less than a year. But it’s honestly been the best year I could have hoped for.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Don’t wait for the right time. There is no right time. I waited years and years and now completely regret not doing it sooner! I wasted years in a miserable environment, wishing I could be anywhere else. When I finally took the plunge, yes it was scary (so scary!!!), but it was so worth it.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
So many employers out there tell us that they ‘support working parents’ and that they offer ‘flexible working’, but from what I can see, that’s unfortunately so far from the truth. They say the right words but do they really do what they promise?
I was promised flexible working and it was taken away from me. Working for a large organisation who ‘supported flexible working’ made me feel like I owed them something. Yes, I worked part time but I was made to feel like I wasn’t good enough, that my hours were never enough. I struggled so much to work around my two small children. I ran myself into the ground trying to juggle school drop offs, nursery runs, and working as much as I could, logging on from home because I didn’t feel I was giving enough. Calling in numerous favours for childcare when I was ‘asked’ to swap my non working day to attend a ‘mandatory’ conference…and we all know if I didn’t go what they’d think of me and how I’d be treated afterwards. Life was a constant battle, one of which I wasn’t winning.
But now I can finally say, I did it. I escaped that life and have built up my own little mini empire. Doing something I absolutely love and being able to work it 100% around my family. Making that jump is the hardest thing you’ll ever do but it may just be the best thing you ever do too.
If this reading about running a dog walking business has inspired you, check out some animal based franchise opportunities.