An interview done with Michelle Sarwas.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Bark Avenue DaycampAddress: 1540 Hecht Dr. #A, Bartlett IL 60103
Owners: Michelle Sarwas & Tim Tingler
Year business started: 2007
Web address: barkavenuedaycamp.com
A: We offer doggy day care, overnight boarding, grooming, and training for dogs of all breeds and sizes.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: While studying for my MBA, I was asked to write a business plan on the business of my choice. I chose to do the assignment based on a doggy day care because it had always seemed to be an interesting idea and my dogs were already my passion/hobby. Before I completed this project I had come to the realization that I was ready to leave my current professional world of corporate finance and decided to turn this classroom project into a reality.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: I started the business while the economy was still good. However, that quickly changed toward the end of 2007 so my most difficult obstacle has been and continues to be how to market my business and advertise with a very small budget.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: I love knowing that we provide a service that is so desperately needed by both our two-legged and four-legged clients. My staff and I are able to create such a bond with our clients that they more often seem like friends and family which makes each day very rewarding. We also do a great deal of work with various dog rescue groups to help them properly exercise and/or train dogs in their care so that they can be placed in their forever homes. For dog lovers like us this is a wonderful experience.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: No, this isn't what I pictured myself doing. From a very early age I wanted to be a veterinarian.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Because of the state of the economy, finding ways to keep the business growing and finding more ways to service our clients is what usually keeps me up at night.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Network, network, network. You can have a great business but if no one knows who you are, it doesn't matter. Word-of-mouth is still the best advertisement you can have and that's what networking does for you. It doesn't cost a great deal of money but it does require a time commitment from you -- a commitment that is well worth it.
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