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Building a business step by step

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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. 



Q. How has the business grown since then? 

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.