About your business
Founder name: Linda Ward
Company name: Boredom Busters Dog & Puppy Services
Company age: 4 years old
Company location: Brentwood
Staff numbers: 5
Date started: September 2008
Tell us what your business does:
Dog walking, puppy sitting, private training tuition and training classes for dogs of all ages.
Where did the idea for your business come from? What motivated you to start it?
My dog! I took on a very difficult dog while I was on a career break and after trying for three months realised the only option for his care was to become self-employed.
What did you do before?
I worked in new media for the BBC for five years. Before that, 10 years as a hackney carriage driver in Brentwood.
What did you have to overcome (if anything) to start it and get it off the ground?
Complete ignorance of running a business, and having the example of a dad failing badly and a previous boyfriend failing badly. Not very motivational!
What makes your business stand out from others like it?
We offer a very high level of customer care, and are Trading Standards Approved. The welfare of the dogs and protecting our community comes first. What was your first big breakthrough? Taking on my first assistant and working with him to grow the business. He started on two hours a week, a year later he was on 16. I couldn’t have grown the business without help.
Your business tips
You’re prime minister for a day. What would you change for small businesses?
I’d relieve them of employers’ tax and NI contributions for three years so they can grow their businesses and take on staff they otherwise couldn’t afford or would take on as sub-contractors, when they should be employees.
What’s your best customer service tip?
Listen! And consider complaints (or just niggles) as opportunities to improve your services.
What would you do differently? (What have you learnt?)
I would let the ‘problem’ dogs go much sooner. There are lots of great dogs out there, so I shouldn’t have struggled on with dogs causing problems.
What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Do it! And do it now! I don’t recommend keeping a second job ‘just in case’ as I feel this stunts growth of the business.