Business Success Stories: Creatures’ Comforts
|Owner: Sharon Carter
Company Name: Creatures’ Comforts
Company Address: 2025 Columbia, Houston, TX 77008
Company Phone: 713-862-1844
Web Site URL: creaturescomforts.net
# of Locations: 1
# of Employees: 5
Tell us a little bit about your business? We are a full service pet sitting/dog walking business established in March of 1993. We make periodic visits to clients’ homes to care for their pets while they are away on business or vacation, or just working late and can’t make it home in a timely fashion. We service the Heights, Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Montrose, Upper Kirby and surrounding areas. Although dogs and cats make up the majority of our clients, we also take care of small exotics, birds, and fish.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would give someone starting a business? Be prepared to give 100 percent to your business and realize that it will monopolize your time for the first several years. All of your important decisions must be seen for the perspective of how they will affect the health and survival of your business. It will eventually mature and develop sustainability with more relaxed guardianship, but not in the beginning.
How does Greensheet Media help you with your business goals? Greensheet Media is very useful in facilitating a front and center presence for targeted areas.
Why did you start your business? I started my business because I was disenchanted with the corporate world, and wanted to do try making a living by doing something that I had done most of my life for friends, family and neighbors because they trusted me with their pets. The idea of being able to go to work in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers was very appealing, in addition to the fact that all of my clients were happy to see me, and there was no office politics!
What was the most challenging aspect of starting your business? The most challenging aspect of starting a pet sitting business is the fact that you are always on call. You work weekends and holidays — while your clients are vacationing or away on business, you are filling the void, sometimes at a moments notice.
What keeps you motivated to continue your business? I truly enjoy what I do, and I find the emotional connection that I develop with the animals to be very rewarding. The business truly gives me a sense of purpose.
How long did it take you to start seeing a return on your initial investment in your company? I was able to realize a return on my investment immediately because my only overhead was the maintenance on my car and a small print ad in the beginning.
What kind of mindset do you need to have to be a business owner? In order to be a successful business owner, you need to be able to focus. You can’t allow yourself to be pulled off center for any reason.
If you could do it all over again what would you change? If I were starting all over, I would identify my target market more accurately. Initially, I thought that my primary clientele would be upper and upper middle-class pet owners. I discovered rather quickly that most of my clients were middle-class pet owners who really cared about and wanted the best care for their animal companions. Often, people with higher incomes have full-time help that can care for their pets as part of their regular job description.
What are some typical challenges you have with your business? The biggest challenge in my business is time management. You need to learn how to juggle work schedules with personal time.
What is your greatest fear to start a business and how did you overcome it? My greatest fear when starting my business was the question of whether or not I would be able to support myself. The only way to overcome such a challenge is with a positive attitude. Never even consider the possibility of failure!
Describe a typical day for you at your business. I get up at 5am every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! After I take care of my own family of pets, I hit the streets to make my morning stops, which includes the feeding of two feral cat colonies, for which I am the designated colony manager by the City of Houston. I have personally trapped and spayed/neutered them all and released them, but will continue to feed them for the duration of their lives. I usually have several dogs to walk and feed, as well as indoor cats who need attending. When I finish my morning rounds, I return to my home office to answer phone messages and emails, and attend to paperwork. Around 11am, I venture out again to do midday walks for clients who hire us on a weekly basis to provide their dogs with a break during the day, because they usually return home late. I usually finish around 2pm and have an hour or so to eat lunch and check messages again before I start my afternoon/evening jobs. My Jeep Renegade is my most reliable business asset!
What is the best way to achieve long-term success? The best way to achieve long-term success is to develop relationships with your clients. In my business, we are caring for cherished members of their families, so they appreciate your being deeply involved in their care and well being.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else? Entrepreneurs tend to be self-starters and self-motivated. When you work for yourself, you learn to rely primarily on yourself. The only way that you will continue to get a paycheck is by delivering a quality product or service.
If you weren’t a business owner, what would you be and why? If I were not a business owner, I would most likely be a volunteer with an animal rescue group. Nothing can compare with the sense of purpose that comes from knowing that you have made a difference in the life of an innocent creature.
What is the best thing about being a business owner? The best thing about being a business owner is the realization that you are in charge of your own destiny. There is no greater challenge and no greater potential for reward. It is unbelievably exhilarating to look and your life and realize that “I created this”!