(Editor: Throughout the month of February, across our Blog and Social Media platforms, we will celebrate Geauga small businesses while highlighting GCPL resources for small businesses. We reached out to Geauga County small business owners and asked them for the story behind their businesses as well as any advice they have to offer other small business owners and those looking to start their own small businesses. The following is an interview with Carol Peter, CPDT-KA, CSAT of Cold Nose Companions, LLC Dog Training in Chardon.)
GCPL: When was Cold Nose Companions founded?
GCPL: What is the story behind your business? How did it begin? What challenges did you face in getting started & how did you overcome them? What challenges do you face in your day-to-day operations, and how do you overcome them? What is your favorite part of owning a business?
CP: My passion for dog training was ignited as a volunteer at a shelter where I was recruited to train dogs that landed at the shelter because of behavior problems. I quickly realized that rewards-based training can change behavior dramatically and help those dogs get adopted and stay in their homes. The biggest challenge I faced early on was getting the word out to the public about our services, but when clients and veterinarians began to refer people to us, we really started to grow. My biggest ongoing challenge is finding qualified trainers with a commitment to positive reinforcement training who can teach classes and work one-on-one with clients. I have a very high standard for credentials, so this can be difficult at times. I am a mentor trainer for the CATCH Academy for Canine Trainers, so that is one source for developing future talent. I’m also willing to meet with people who have an interest and encourage them to pursue this field. While being a small business owner is demanding and, at times, stressful, I love being the one who decides the direction Cold Nose Companions will go and grow. I get great personal and professional satisfaction out of seeing all that we have accomplished and the thousands of lives – both human and canine – that we have touched and the relationships we have made better.
GCPL: Why did you decide to start your business? What inspired it?
CP: I so enjoyed my volunteer training experience that I decided that I would pursue training as a “retirement career.” However, retirement came earlier than I expected with a layoff from my corporate job in December 2009. I was fortunate to receive a severance package, so I never thought about doing anything other than starting Cold Nose Companions. Dog training became my full-time profession. It was a great intersection of opportunities, as I was able to leverage my business and marketing experience with my training experience to make this dream a reality.
GCPL: What kinds of training and education did starting your business require (College, trade shows, seminars/conferences, etc.)? Have you ever used the library to help with this?
CP: I did not need any training to get the business started and put together my marketing plan and materials. I already had those skills from my corporate life and I started small. However, as I grew, I decided I wanted to open my own Training Center in 2012. I availed myself of the services of SCORE mentor Richard Coyne here in Geauga County. That business expansion was a major commitment and I wanted to be sure I had great advice to consider and plan for all the success factors. Richard was a great help.
On a continuing basis, I regularly seek out books, webinars and conferences to continue to hone my skills and expertise in training. I am required to complete continuing education units to maintain my Certified Professional Dog Trainer credentials, which I love doing. There’s always something else to learn.
GCPL: What resources did/do you find most useful in helping you to start, grow, and maintain your business (Books, software, training materials, databases, etc.)?
CP: I read a book on various forms of legal structures for businesses. I don’t remember the name of it at this point, but it was very helpful in determining that an LLC was the appropriate legal structure for my business. I also acquired a “Dog Trainer’s Business Package” CD from a reputable nationally-known trainer that gave me templates for contracts and other forms. I had a little help from my attorney to tweak those documents for my use in Ohio. The SCORE website was also helpful in 2012 to get templates for Pro Formas and other appropriate documents. I know I have used some of the databases the library has available through CLEVNET a few times over the years, as well.
GCPL: What advice do you have for people who want to start a business?
CP: Have confidence in yourself and don’t be afraid of risk. Risk can be very healthy and productive.
I honestly never thought I would want to own my own business, but when I had little other choice, I jumped in. I realized that my accumulated life and business experience prepared me better for entrepreneurship than I realized.
Also, get networking! My husband and I moved to Chardon in 1989 and I spent the next 20 years leaving Geauga County every day for work. I had to get to know my home territory, the people and businesses I would be interacting with, and how the economy of the area worked. I joined the Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce and I am a founding member of the Red Key Network. I regularly attend the business networking events that Geauga Growth Partnership offers. These are great organizations to help you establish yourself and your business. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
I’m very happy with my decision to launch Cold Nose Companions Dog Training. I love the autonomy of self-determination. I love the sense of accomplishment and achievement. I love seeing the results with my clients. I love the relationships I’ve developed with people. I love being able to provide employment to others so they can grow and hone their training skills, and add to the population of positive reinforcement dog trainers in our area.
Carol is currently watching Newsroom. She says, “We recently discovered the HBO series Newsroom, currently available on Amazon Prime TV. It is outstanding! It’s just not fair that there are only three seasons of it.”