Wendy Ashworth, founder of Walkies Blackpool, tells us about the development of her dog-walking and home boarding business.
Q. When did you become self-employed and how did you get there?
I started on the path to my own business at 14 with work experience at school. After this I volunteered with the RSPCA and had a job at the age of 16 in a local kennels, where I worked towards gaining my small animal care certificate. I then worked as a veterinary nurse, which was only supposed to be a stop-gap but I ended up staying there for 10 years! In 2005 I started my own dog-walking business and here I am.
I started with a van, myself and a dog, and I expanded the number of areas that I operate in as I grew the business. Initially I began with just walking, but now I also board a small number of dogs as a licensed home boarder. We have just completed building an arena in the new premises and I am working on gaining my level 4 qualification in animal behaviour.
We work with some dogs who have challenging behaviour and help them become happier.
Q. What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
Being able to set my own goals and targets rather than asking permission. I’d wanted to do the animal behaviour certificate when I was employed but could not, and now I’m free to choose the skills I want to improve and how to improve them. I also like the freedom of managing my own time.
Q. What’s the worst?
Not having time to myself! As I home-board as well as having the centre, my job really is 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
Q. Have you used your FSB membership?
Yes, I used the legal hub several times for advice from the solicitors regarding disputes with a neighbour, and it was really easy to use. I’ve also used the debt collection service to recover outstanding payments. I have the business banking, which I plan to
start using in the near future.
I’m planning to use the online health and safety training courses on the legal hub to train my staff in-house.