049: Won Australiasian business plan in high school, 2 years later in 2008, aged 19 launched a dog daycare, grooming & sitting business. 1 to 29 FTE. Out for 6 months due to burnout/brain infection made her let go – business boomed (Rhiannon Beach)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

October 28, 2020

In this episode, I interview Rhiannon Beach, the Founder of Pups4Fun, Canberra’s leading dog daycare and dog adventure center specializing in behavior-based service. Pups4Fun offers daycare, playgroups, and out and about excursions, activities usually associated with children. Rhiannon was ahead of the curve when she started Pups4Fun, tapping into the sentiment that animals in a household were not just pets, but members of the family.

Her journey into small business ownership started in 2005 when was completing her high school. A great teacher pushed her to enter a business plan competition and she went on to win the Australasian award. Aged 19 in 2008, she started a law degree part-time and launched the dog daycare, walking, and sitting business. There were only two other dog daycare businesses in Australia at the time. They currently walk up to 50 dogs at a time and take them to unusual locations like the war memorial. Rhiannon clearly has a passion for dog wellness. The business has grown every year, on average at 180%, from herself alone to now 29 full-time employees. When she launched the business, the industry was worth $3.8 Billion per annum in Australia and is now at $12 Billion. 

In 2017, she bought another salon 30 kilometers away and two years later, she closed it and brought 98% of the customers to headquarters. At the end of 2008, she got a $10,000 loan for a few months from her father to replace her 1982 small car. That is the only financing she has ever had. In late 2013, she had burnout which led to an infection in her brain and it took 6 months for her to recover, but it was the best thing to ever happen to her. She had to let go, trust her team, and let them run the business. She felt she succeeded when she achieved work-life balance and started getting great feedback from clients. 

She believes the hardest thing about growing a small business is, “Sacrifices you make and letting go” She shares that the one thing she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “Set systems and procedures up to where you want to be, not where you are now” Sit back, relax and enjoy as Rhiannon shares her awesome small business ownership story.

This Cast Covers:

  • Caring for 500 dogs a week in a way that encourages the dogs to be good social citizens.
  • Starting one of the first dog daycare centers in Australia while also studying law.
  • Valuing and standing strong on the pricing strategy for their high-end prestige service.
  • Achieving an average growth rate of 180% every year for the last 13 years.
  • Aiming at creating credibility for other people in the pet industry so other people can understand that it’s a serious business.
  • Buying a grooming salon and how it contributed to their expansion.
  • Running things from their head office location with an offsite location where they do the dog daycare from.
  • Considering going into the statewide market and looking at franchising as a growth option.
  • Having a great team that enabled her to find work-life balance.
  • Valuing their customers and the great feedback they get from them because of their great work.
  • Constantly conducting short customer surveys to stay informed of their customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Remembering not to assume that your customers’ beliefs and values are not the same as yours as the small business owner.
  • Growing the business purely from cash flow by starting small and having financial discipline.
  • The challenges she faced from the business’ rapid growth and how she had to battle a life-threatening disease brought on by burn out.
  • Working with her staff to build the great culture they have now.
  • The value of having the flexibility to travel and do what she wants to do.
  • The importance of trusting your employees to run the business without you, trusting your gut, and having advisors.
  • Basing their recruiting process on their values to ensure they hire the most fitting employees.
  • Acknowledging that the risk, sacrifice, and time you’ve put into building your business entitles you to have a life.
  • Investing in heaps of both formal and informal professional development and learning from other small business owners.
  • The impact of winning at the 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
  • Advocating for good accounting software and systems and processes for every small business.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“When you get to a place of having a high level of customer satisfaction, your staff are happy, you’ve got life balance, and you can pay your bills, what more can you want?” – Rhiannon Beach

“Know who you’re selling to and adjust your strategy accordingly” – Rhiannon Beach

“It’s great to have advertising bringing customers in, but if you’re not retaining them, you’re just wasting your money” – Rhiannon Beach

“Let it go, step back, trust in your employees and get advisors to help you” – Rhiannon Beach

“The moment you stop trying to control everything is the moment you grow” – Rhiannon Beach

“Don’t be desperate when hiring” – Rhiannon Beach

“Set your systems and procedures up for where you wanna go and the size you wanna be, not where you are now”

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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