After years in the busy corporate world Tracey was visiting the doctor more often than she wanted, with symptoms explained below. Her doctor told her it was her work environment and the hectic pressures of her job that were causing the problems, time off sick was recommended, but the stress would still be there when she returned and she didn’t want to let down her employers.
We know she’s not the only one ever to be in that position. Your job is making you poorly, but you can’t just give it up, you need to work to earn money, to avoid isolation.
What happened then Tracey?
I was working in Corporate Communications when I started passing out without any warning more and more frequently. It went on for about 18 months and sometimes it would happen as often as every other day. I couldn’t work afterwards as I’d have a terrible headache and feel exhausted. I had to stop driving, running and lost quite a lot of confidence in just getting out and about and doing things as I kept injuring myself falling over. I had numerous tests and everything was negative so I eventually decided to refer myself for some counselling to see if that would tease out the problem. I found myself talking about work a lot….I didn’t know I was stressed, but now believe that was probably the problem. I eventually decided to resign to get my health back on track and I’ve been well since I left.
How did your journey to business owner start?
I started doing some work as a freelance minute taker and audio typist for an agency, and started some dog walking alongside this. I really enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, and I’ve always loved dogs.
How long were you dog walking before you looked at running your own franchise?
5 or 6 months. I knew I loved the job, I’m fairly organised (or at least I was before baby brain!) and I had managed people in the past so was keen to find out about running a franchise.
Did you have a financial buffer before you took the leap?
No, we struggled for a little while but Rob (my husband) kindly held the fort and we had to just stop doing lots of the things we used to. It didn’t last long. I also carried on doing a bit of freelance minute taking until I had too many dog walking customers to carry on and we were financially self sufficient.
Can you remember any really difficult times running your business?
I struggled to know when to take on staff as you feel like you’re doing everything yourself to start with and you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. But if you don’t take them on soon enough you can’t grow and you will burn out.
When did you first recruit and what difference did it make?
6 months down the line. It made the world of difference – sharing the walking load, feeling like part of a team and being able to take on new customers was a great feeling!
What’s the best differences between corporate world and being your own boss?
I don’t get stressed anymore! You are completely in control of things which is a nice feeling for me. Recruiting your own team has a lot to do with it too – often in the corporate world you can’t choose who you work with and there is pressure from all angles. It’s great to have day to day flexibility to work when it suits you best…the 9-5 tie must be very difficult for new mums. Fresh air….it’s good for the soul! So is working in your pyjamas!
Would it all have been harder without the backing of the We Love Pets franchise model?
Definitely. The website and ‘business in a box’ model is really appealing – I would never have started my own dog walking business. I think I’d have put it in a ‘too risky, too hard, too much work’ box and buried it! But the support, training, practical guides, marketing support etc just made it so much easier. And the people are pretty awesome too.