When To Ask for Help In Your Dog Training Business
As a rule of thumb, think about the business-related task you want to accomplish and what needs to be done to accomplish it. If you feel comfortable with and capable of doing it yourself, great. If not, save yourself some frustration and hire an expert. Remember that if you try to do something yourself and aren’t able to get the job done, you’ll have spent valuable time, money, and effort— and you may end up hiring an expert anyway!
Here are just a few of the areas in which you’ll want to decide whether or not to get expert help:
Attorney. If you have any questions about the safety of your business, your liability, or your personal assets, consult a business attorney. If you want to do something more complex such as incorporate, buy a facility, or even rent a facility, you might also want the advice of a business or contract attorney.
If you need basic forms (such as client contracts), keep in mind that many generic legal forms are available for little or no cost (e.g., most office supply stores carry forms software and hard-copy forms, and the Internet is also a great resource). Remember, though, that every state has its own laws and conventions; a contract drawn up in California may not hold water in Louisiana.
Bookkeeper/Accountant. Depending on the volume of your business, you may be able to do your own bookkeeping in just a few hours a month. Doing your own books keeps you aware of what you’re doing financially by comparing months, times of year, etc. It also lets you know if you’re spending too much money or effort in one area for the return. With the availability of software programs such as Quicken and QuickBooks, it’s easier than ever to track your income and expenses. Regardless of the format you use, however, consider taking a course in bookkeeping (not accounting) so you have a basic understanding of the double-entry system.
Although doing your own books gives you a great feel for your business, you might want to hire a bookkeeper if your time is limited and/or you have no aptitude for or interest in numbers. A good bookkeeper will keep you aware of your financial picture and let you know how your money is being spent.
For many dog trainers, it makes sense to hire an accountant to do your taxes. Although software programs such as TurboTax are popular—and many people find them excellent—an accountant can give you individual attention and advice. Tax laws change every year, and an accountant can help you get the maximum allowable deductions for your business.
Design. The design of your business cards, flyers, and brochures projects your professional image. If you are comfortable designing your own collateral materials, that’s great; however, get expert help when you need it. For instance, consider hiring a Web design expert for your business Web site. Lots of people can put together a simple Web site, but expert help is invaluable if you want a professional-looking site that will help maximize your visibility. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, ask to see samples of the expert’s work.
Other areas in which you may need or want assistance include office support, custodial services, marketing, expansion, and retail sales. Remember that your needs will change as your business grows—and, most likely, your own time will become more valuable. Figure out what you want to accomplish, and whether or not you can do it efficiently and effectively. Taking the time to assess your needs and skills will help you determine when to hire professional help.
These are only a few of the areas to consider — marketing, expansion, retail, and so on are other. Anytime you need something new or different, think “What do I want to accomplish and can I do it myself?”
Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.