At Barklife Pet Services we provide; in house dog boarding, day care pet sitting and one to one bespoke dog grooming. I’ve always had a passion for animals, my first job was working in a stables mucking out horse fields every Sunday when I was in senior school.

When I left school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I had always spoken about dog grooming but I decided to follow my Mum and Auntie and to go into health and social care. After several years of working in care and support work which I loved, I still had this desire to set up on my own and do something that I felt really passionately about.

My partner Rob, who is also a business owner gave me the encouragement that I had what it takes to set up a business, and asked me what I really wanted to do in life, which was to work with animals, particularly dogs. That’s when “Barklife” was born.

To start with I was still working a few nights a week in my support work job whilst providing day care and dog walking and boarding services whilst saving up to pay for my dog grooming course. After a couple of months, the business was picking up and I was exhausted from doing shift work and running my business, so I left my support work job to focus solely on Barklife.

The following February I was so excited to get onto a dog grooming course at Derby college, I absolutely loved it! It was short lived though as 4 weeks into the course we got put into lockdown. I carried on practicing at home on our own dogs, and when allowed on friends and families, along with completing all of the theory work from home.

I gained my level 2 City and guilds qualification in July. I don’t think that you ever really feel that you are 100 percent ready to start up on your own, its a daunting prospect. However, you’ll never know unless you try, and get out of your comfort zone. That’s how it was for me, I would rather regret things that I have done rather than regret things that I never tried.

The best thing about running my business is just working with dogs all of the time! They all have such different characters and they really do bring me joy. I get my biggest sense of achievement from seeing owners faces when they pick dogs up from a groom, or getting a photo of their dogs fast asleep after a day of day care or boarding.

The hardest moment that I have had in my business so far would probably be transforming our garage into the dedicated grooming parlour which it is now. It was a challenge to envision how I could ever call that my grooming parlour but with lots of help from friends it is now a stylish, light and professionally equipped place to work. Another definite hard time was when we went into lockdown and everything was put on hold for a time, as it was for a lot of people.

Whilst running my own business I have learnt to have faith and patience. In the beginning it may seem like you aren’t getting anywhere and it can be stressful, but persevere and put in the extra effort as it will be worth it. I feel that it is also important to have an end goal, and working out the baby steps that it will take to get there.

The next step for BarkLife is to continue building up my client base, and eventually somewhere down the line I would love to expand to larger premises. If I could give readers some advice for starting a new business it would be to find something that you really enjoy and have a business plan with achievable targets People ask “How do you switch off?” My answer is that once the final dog has left for the day and I have completed all of my paperwork, and ticked off all of my daily jobs, I like to switch off by having a nice bath and watching some TV on the sofa with our own four legged companion’s (and Rob of course).

There are many advantages to running your own business; I get a great sense of fulfilment from knowing that the business achievements come from my own hard work