Tag Archives: food hygiene

My Dog Wants

21 Jan

Last summer I picked up my appointment list for the day and was surprised to see that one of my customer’s business ideas was making dog biscuits.  Not the most obvious business idea I’m sure you’ll agree!  I was intrigued to meet Alison and find out more about her idea.  When we met, she was in the middle of health and safety and labelling procedures with Trading Standards.  It was a long, complicated process and she kept coming up against brick walls, but she kept at it and her determination paid off.  She has now set up as a sole trader, and her biscuits are popular with dogs and owners alike.

My Dog Wants is a small, portable, all-natural dog snack for dog owners who are on the go and need to take a snack out with them for their pets, without the hassle of having to keep opened packets of food in their pockets.

I got started after we rescued a minature yorkie to join our three year old yorkie.  We found that she needed to have some teeth taken out, alongside several other health issues.  As the weeks went on, the few teeth she had got infected and so after only having her for six weeks she had to have the rest out too.  The race was on to find something she could eat that wouldn’t do damage to her already damaged gums.  I’m a trained chef, so I started to play around with biscuit recipes as I had spent a lot of money trying many other biscuits which my dogs would refuse, or couldn’t eat as they were too hard or too big.   My dogs loved the biscuits I made, and my friends’ dogs did too.

Towards the end of 2011, I was told that I would be made redundant at the end of March 2012.  I started to look for work but couldn’t find what I wanted, and all the time I had this it the back of my mind that if at the end of five months if I didn’t have a job, I would start my own business.

The biggest hurdle to date has been dealing with Trading Standards.  I needed to make sure that I was compliant with everything – labelling, food content, evironmental health etc.  At one point it looked like I wouldn’t be able to meet the requirments on a small scale.  I was devastated and walked away from the business for two weeks.  I spoke to friends, family and Opportunity Plus South West, and they all encouraged me to stick with it and not give up.  So I emailed Trading Standards and waited for a reply, which I got one day before I was due to go on holiday.  She told me I had been given some wrong information and I could carry on.  What a relief – I had a great holiday!

After returning, I talked at length with my husband as I needed him on board.  Next thing was finishing off my logo and getting the printing sorted.  That was expensive, and along with getting my insurances sorted, all I seemed to be doing was pay, pay, pay – but you have to spend money to make money and you have to believe in yourself as well as what you are making or selling.

Now the biscuits are ready, and I have them in three local shops and they are selling quite well.  I have also put posters in my home windows so when people walk past they read them.  Over Christmas I had people phone for some and I have delivered them locally or I’ve posted them.  I have decided to go steady and not run before I can walk.  I have also signed up for some local food and drink fayres, one being our food and drink fayre here in Moretonhampstead in March 2013 and also the Chagford show.  Anywhere that I can get my product seen.

My advice to anyone considering starting their own business would be: if you have an idea run with it!  Get as much help and feedback as you possibly can.  Luckily I have found a local business lady who is also helping me as a mentor when I need it and I’ve had great support from Sue and Chloe at OPSW and they’ve put me through to other departments to help with all sorts of aspects of running my own business.

Decide what market you want to get into and get feedback from your customers.  Starting my own business has been the best thing ever, even though I’m already having some sleepless nights as I’m always planning and thinking of new ideas.  It’s not easy and I don’t expect to get any real return for at least three years, but I can be patient – good things come to those who wait.  It won’t always go right, but you have to persevere and learn from your mistakes – they will happen and you have to adapt, as I am still doing – it always go perfectly first time.  (See our story about Seashore Ceramics for a great example of a business having to adapt.)

You never know, one day you may see my two little dogs’ biscuits in your local supermarket!  Both of my beautiful yorkies are doing extremely well and enjoying the attention they get from being on the biscuit label and trying recipes and the finished product.

For more information, email Alison: mydogwants@yahoo.co.uk

Trading Standards offer free business start up advice and can help you to meet all relevant legislation for your business idea – they can check your website meets regulations, check your toys are safe, check that your labelling says everything it needs to.  Get in touch with them early on in your business start up process – it’s much easier to do things right from the start than to go back and change them later.

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?  How did it feel to overcome it?  What did you learn in the process?