Inspiring Enterprise | StartUp

Inspiring Enterprise Helps to get Tails Wagging!


Helen Baker runs a Dog Grooming and Pet Sitting service in Aldershot. Her business was started with the help of Susan Reviere, Enterprise Specialist at Inspiring Enterprise.

As Helen recalls, the road to working with animals was a long one.

“I spent more years than I care to remember working in sales office administration, aftermarket sales and jobs of that ilk. I fell into most of the jobs I had. For example, I would start as agency staff, then someone would say ‘we want you’ and I said ‘OK, I’m on board’ even if my heart wasn’t really in it. After X number of years, it was a chore just getting out of bed in the morning. Even then I kept doing it for another X number of years. A conversation with my Mum helped to focus my mind and heart – it was a decision between working with the elderly, working with animals and doing something creative (I also make jewelry and do lots of crochet). Working with animals won.”

Contacting Inspiring Enterprise

Once Helen had decided what she really wanted to do as a business she decided to go back to college to do a Level 1 dog grooming course. Her employer said it wasn’t feasible to reduce her hours and eventually agreed to change her contract from full-time to zero hours. After starting the zero-hour contract in September 2019, approximately 2 months later she was no longer employed – for health reasons – and this motivated her to seek further support.

I was referred to Juergen Halten at Vivid Housing. Initially he was helping me with my CV, job applications and confidence in interviews. Once I decided to take the self-employed rather than employed route, he referred me to Susan at Inspiring Enterprise.”

After completing the Level 1 dog grooming course, she decided to do City and Guilds Level 2.  Although the road was longer than anticipated due to COVID-19, Helen was kept busy doing online courses related to animals, such as dog grooming theory, dog walking, pet sitting and animal psychology. This helped to keep her mind active and focused and she was able to complete the Level 2 dog grooming course in July 2021.

A Growing Business

Helen now has 13 doggy clients for grooming and five of those are new to her this month. She also has 4 regular pet sitting clients who between them have 8 dogs, 2 cats, a bunny and an African pygmy hedgehog.

Praise for Inspiring Enterprise

Helen says that what has been most useful to her when setting up her business has been talking and bouncing ideas off people, speaking to friends who have their own businesses for tips, speaking to family members, networking with other groomers in Facebook groups and having her grooming tutor as a mentor. Also, Helen said that Susan’s support was vital in the setting up of her business,

“I had no idea what was involved in setting up/running a business, how to write a business plan or cash flows/forecasts. Having Susan as a guide was invaluable during those early days.”

Future Goals

Helen has many goals, both personal and business-related over the next 5 years. Personally, she would like to buy a new car, get a dog, become fitter and healthier, treat her mum who has been so supportive, go travelling and see more of friends abroad, be debt free and take on a mortgage.

To achieve all of this, Helen also has a very clear idea of what her goals are for the business and further training,

“Over the next 5 years, I would like to compete the Level 3 City & Guilds dog grooming course and further training on teeth cleaning and microchipping for pets. I also am passionate about getting up to practitioner lever on canine behaviour so want to compete an ISCP canine behaviour course,  a Tellington Ttouch Training and Animal Centred Education courses. As well as all of this, I need to renew my canine first aid and CPR training certificate by June 2024.”

Helen’s Top Tip for Future Entrepreneurs

“Once you know for sure what you want, just go for it. 

I had the ‘I want to be my own boss’ bee buzzing around in my brain for more years than I care to remember. Lots of ideas accompanied by self-doubt = no definite actions. Once I landed on ‘I want to work with animals’ the pieces started falling into place – so did the motivation and self-belief and confidence. It is still very early days – I’m loving every one of them. Work no longer feels like work. It feels like fun and I’m satisfying my creative streak every day.”

You can find out more about Helen’s Dog Grooming and Pet Sitting Services on Facebook.

Inspiring Enterprise

WSX Enterprise Ltd is a business support organisation delivering a range of start-up, business growth and digital skills projects across the UK.

Their Inspiring Enterprise project ran from 2016 until 2023 in Hampshire and Surrey. Our team of experts advised, mentored and supported over 1000 people to find a better future by moving them into self-employment, employment or training.
The project is currently not taking any new enquiries and will finish in April 2023.

It was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Union European Social Fund.

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