I filed the articles of organization for my business in June of 2019 but for the last two and a half years I've been questioning if quitting a well paying job as a data analyst to pursue my dream of owning a business and running dogs for a living was a good idea. I've had several moments of doubt, uncertainty and fear but through a series of rather fortunate (or unfortunate depending on who you ask) events, I actually feel good about it maybe working out.
Like most everybody else on the planet, the last couple of years have been rough for me. On top of the pandemic, I've gone through a marriage ending and having to sell our house (which had a fenced in backyard with a double lot where I could host clients' dogs) to going to a small 1 BR apartment which I'm paying more for than my mortgage payment because it's the only place I could find that would allow my pets. I've lost a 25-year childhood friendship over a disagreement I didn't even know we were having. I've lost contact with most of the local running community that I had worked really hard to cultivate relationships with because of another bad deal I had to disassociate myself from. I've had another tumultuous relationship begin and end after only about one year. But...I've gained a lot of great customers and awesome doggy clients, some new friendships and even some new business opportunities along the way. I've had a really good friend encouraging me to keep going with my silly idea through the hard times when I was making barely any money. And I've got my health. Stayin' alive baby!
I definitely did not invent the idea of running with your dog or even the idea of monetizing the process. There are already several well established businesses that have the same basic business model but they are in larger metropolitan areas (Denver Dog Joggers, Chicago Dog Runner, D.C. Dog Runner, etc.) and therefore have a much larger population center to market to. Little old Wooster has about 27,232 people in it according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau (2020). Currently, that means roughly 0.11% of the people that live in Wooster are my customers; however, I do have 100% market share. After all, I'm billing myself as the only professional dog running service in Wooster and who could say otherwise?
The watershed moment I decided it was time to make the move to full time dog runner was when I was running a client's dog and found a $100 bill on the ground with nobody in sight. A serendipitous moment perhaps, but it was the one I needed. Every time I am out with a dog or even on my own, there are so many dogs barking as I go by that I'd love to meet and have them become my client, but as the title of this post says, I have been coasting to the start, metaphorically clicking up that first big hill of the roller coaster and hopefully just about to reach the apex before rushing off.
To put things in perspective, the first week of 2022 has been really great and it just kind of happened while I wasn't noticing. I've grossed 63% of the revenue I earned in the entire month of January '21 and it's only been one week (insert Barenaked Ladies song here). There are several new clients inquiring about services, some new advertising ideas moving along nicely in the pipeline, an application with the Wooster Chamber of Commerce in process and hopefully some new helpers will be coming on soon to assist me with my appointments!
I've been stuck in a funk for the last couple of years both personally and professionally, but 2022 is going to be really great. It just has to. I hope you will sit in the front roller coaster seat with me, hands held high waiting to feel that first amazing drop.