If you’re stepping into another phase of your business, it’s normal to experience mixed emotions – excitement, fear, overwhelm, determination. Whether you’re on the cusp of launching your dog training career or adding a new service to your work, it can also feel a little lonely. Many dog trainers work alone, and if you’re used to having the support and guidance of colleagues, it can be a tough adjustment. Not to mention figuring out how to navigate the complexities of the dog world and all the viewpoints within it.
Connecting with other dog professionals has a whole host of benefits, and it’s worth it right from the start. Here are some ways a professional network can help you and your business.
Everyone needs a sounding board
Running a business can feel all-consuming, especially during the early stages. If you find yourself pondering ideas, processes, and challenges late into the night – talk it out. Seeking insight and perspective from colleagues brings these things ‘into the open,’ allowing you to workshop and troubleshoot knotty problems. If you know a trainer who has been in the business for a long time, or specializes in an area you find challenging, reach out. While it may feel daunting, many trainers are happy to share their learning with others. And if not? There’s no harm in trying, and you’ll be a few steps closer to finding your fellow ‘dog people.’
A pathway to referrals
Connecting with colleagues in your network can result in referrals and new business opportunities. The dog training industry is growing, and many trainers are at capacity. Getting on their radar may mean they refer clients to you if they’re unable to fit them in. Focusing on collaboration with other dog trainers can also lead to joint projects and partnerships, such as running classes together or creating online content. There’s no reason trainers in the same area can’t work together – in fact, if one of you becomes unwell or wants to go on an extended vacation, you may be extra grateful for this connection!
Mutual cheer squads
After a long day of dealing with tricky cases, wrangling your social media output, and figuring out your tax return – it’s easy to feel despondent. You may have some exciting projects and ideas simmering in the back of your mind, but getting to them can be tough. When you run your own business, accountability and motivation become tricky foes. The good news (again!) is that you don’t have to go it alone. Your dog training colleagues can be a great source of external accountability. Set up regular check-ins and ask for feedback on things you’re working on. A lot of trainers will be equally grateful for this opportunity. Eyeing up that workshop but also dreading the information overload that goes with it? Attending professional development events with colleagues, or meeting afterwards for a debrief, is an awesome way to cement learning.
Sense of belonging
When you run a business of one, your sense of belonging has to exist in other spaces. A lot of people end up in dog training because they are driven by passion and a desire to make the world better for dogs. It can be an emotive space, and trying to seek community connection via social media may leave you feeling even more isolated. The real value of colleagues and networks comes from a sense of shared purpose and camaraderie. So consider which spaces make you feel you really belong. It might be a group with shared values around dog training methods, or aligned business practices. It could be a specialty area or topic. Or maybe it’s that trainer down the road you love having a coffee with, who nerds out as much as you do after listening to a podcast. Seeking people and groups that give you energy (rather than take it) will help protect you against those tougher days.
We love helping people turn their dog training dreams into reality, and have seen how much easier this is with the right support. We’d love to hear what connecting with colleagues means to you, and the impact it’s had on your business.