German Shepherd Looks at Computer
Photo Credit @ Tamandra Michaels of Heart Dog Studios.

The world has gone digital.

If we are being totally honest, most of us spend way too much time glued to our phones, our laptops, our tablets or computers.

In fact, not too long ago, I downloaded an app that tracked my phone screen time so I could become present to exactly how much time I spent on my phone each day.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t too worried. I mean, I am always on the go. I work hard, and if I’m not working, I’m exercising or training my dogs. So how bad could it really be?

The answer? … BAD. So very bad.

Day # 1 I spent a whopping FOUR hours on my phone. And that wasn’t making and receiving calls. Most of that time was spent on Google, Amazon, doing research and on Facebook (the ultimate time suck). That was 1/6 of my entire day spent staring at my phone.

I vowed right then and there to limit unnecessary screen time, and then I promptly deleted the app.

Ignorance is bliss after all.

The fact of the matter is, I’m not alone. In fact, a vast majority of people are online … and they are online way more than they realize. They use social media to connect, search engines to get help, they use the Internet for entertainment, to stream movies and play games, and they even buy their groceries online.

As a dog trainer or pet care professional, I promise, your clients are spending a good chunk of time online daily. So if you want to be competitive, you need to be online too. And if you are online, there are a few things you should be doing right now in order to grow your business.

  1. Get a website … and optimize it – Creating a website is a cost effective way to carve out your corner of the web and share who you are and what you do with your potential customers. And the beauty of it is, designing and building a website is easier than ever. No longer do you need to know html and coding to build a functional and visually appealing website. In fact, most of the newer platforms are designed to be easy to use, even for novices. But you can’t just build a website and expect it to perform. You should also spend time optimizing your site so that you can boost visibility and get your business seen. (You can check out my article on optimizing your site for search engines here.)
  2. Get an Email List – There are thousands of ways to advertise your business online. You can throw up a Facebook Biz page and launch Facebook ads. You can pay for Google Adwords so you show up in the Search Engines. But putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy … especially if that basket is owned by someone else. If you only lean on Facebook or Google to get new clients, you’re playing by their rules … and they can change the rules at any time. But you alone hold and control your email list. And believe it or not, your email list is the most effective way for you to build and nurture relationships with your prospective clients without spending a single ad dollar. (And don’t worry, you can build and use an email list without getting all spammy and annoying.)
  3. Get a Network – When I was in business school, I learned the importance of networking in business. Truth is, you should constantly be working to build your network both on and offline. Surround yourself with like-minded people, and network with other business owners in your industry. Not only will you have people to bounce ideas off of, but you’ll also have a support system to give you guidance when you need it. Networking can also build a strong referral base from which you can grow your business. Just remember, relationships are a two-way street. You’ve got to be valuable to get value. Don’t go into networking with the goal of making sales. Instead, network to build meaningful relationships that can help support you and build you up as you are working to bring your dream business to life. (Check out our free business networking group on Facebook).

If you are in business, and especially if you are in the pet care or training industry, you’ve got to go digital. I know it can seem daunting, but believe it or not, going digital is now easier than ever. If you need help, align yourself with an expert or mentor or tap into the network that you’ve been working hard to build. Because unless you have no desire to grow your business whatsoever, there’s no excuse for not taking your business on the web.

Check out our library of upcoming live online workshops if you need help building or growing your dog training or pet care business online.

(And if you can’t make it on the scheduled date and time, don’t sweat it. You’ll get a recording and all of the class materials when you register!)

Meagan Karnes
Meagan Karnes

Meagan has been training dogs professionally since 2002, most recently working with private security, military and law enforcement to provide K9s for high level applications. She owns both The Collared Scholar, an online dog training academy, and 690 Security Services, a company that trains and deploys Executive Security and Protection K9s to private customers. She recently partnered with both Average Frog and SM Leaders, who repurpose the proven performance principles of the Navy SEALs for individuals and organizations.

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