Erica C. Boling, PhD
Northeast K9 Conditioning
Being a canine professional and business owner can be a lonely and isolating endeavor. If you are lucky, you have a team of professionals supporting you and helping you with your business. For many, however, being a canine professional often brings with it the challenging demands that come with being a “solopreneur.” A canine professional who owns his or her own business is often the one creating and implementing new programs while also being in charge of marketing and sales. In addition to this, they are frequently responsible for customer service and directly dealing with client problems when they arise. It can be quite overwhelming, but luckily there are online tools and resources that can help make life easier while also supporting you in growing your business.
Challenges Business Owners Face
When people think about online tools that support business owners, some of the first things that come to mind are programs that allow you to manage client data, schedule appointments and communicate with your clients. These online management and communication tools are frequently important and necessary for a business to excel in today’s Digital Age society. Many of these digital tools, however, still leave business owners stuck in day-to-day survival mode. They are left on their own figuring out strategies for growing and expanding their businesses. If you want to have a business that flourishes and continues to grow, one of the quickest ways to get there is by forming partnerships with others and using different forms of digital technologies to expand your reach.
Forming Collaborative Online Partnerships
The most powerful partnerships occur when the relationship is mutually beneficial, supporting all parties involved. Powerful partnerships also occur when both parties complement (rather than compete with) one another. Below are just a few examples of what such partnerships might look like and how digital technologies can be used to enhance collaborative relationships.
- Dog Trainers & Animal Shelters: A local animal shelter has a Facebook group that highlights and celebrates families who have adopted dogs. Families share photos, videos and stories of their newly adopted dogs, and a local dog trainer is invited to give biweekly or monthly Facebook Live shows in the Facebook group to answer questions and give general training tips. This gives more visibility to the dog trainer and provides opportunities to attract new clients while also providing a much-needed service to the local animal shelter and dog owners.
- Dog Trainers & Community Groups: A local YMCA and school group partner with a dog trainer to help educate families about various topics, such as bite prevention and how to read a dog’s body language. The dog trainer creates brochures, handouts, digital eBooks and video tutorials on these topics to help educate the audience. Local community groups can share these resources through such places as their websites, digital newsletters and social media sites. In return, families benefit by learning from these resources and are introduced to a local trainer who can assist them if and when they need them.
- Dog Trainers & Canine Health Care Professionals: A dog trainer is very concerned about so many clients who have obese dogs but is also aware that there are some health conditions and medications that can make it difficult for dogs to lose weight. Clients don’t always follow through with visits to their veterinarian, and the dog trainer is also concerned that many dog owners aren’t following through with their weekly exercise and training programs. The dog trainer has clients use the BabelBark fitness monitor to track daily activity with their dogs and can use a phone app to follow client activities. Clients are also invited to keep a weekly online journal documenting what they’ve been up to for the week. Both the dog trainer, veterinarian and other health care professionals can then use BabelBark’s online program to access information, keep updated on client activities, send reminders for appointments, and communicate with one another if any behavioral or health issues arise. In this way, they can tackle any problems or concerns as a team and form a truly holistic approach to helping dogs and their owners!
Many canine professionals are aware of the ways that digital technologies can help them with the day-to-day activities that come with running a business. Many canine professionals, however, are not thinking outside the box and taking advantage of the powerful ways online collaborations could help them gain more visibility, better serve their communities and grow their businesses. What about you? Have you thought about the various ways that collaborative online partnerships could help promote and support your business? Exploring creative uses of social media sites like Facebook and innovative online programs and tools like BabelBark’s xxx and canine health monitor could be one way to get started!