We’re back with another Entrepreneurship Spotlight, this time featuring Mike Rowland of Animal Training and Development. Mike has been training dogs in Fort Wayne for over 25 years, and it’s been so fun getting some insight into being an entrepreneur from someone who’s been doing it for years! He definitely has some great perspective for all you future Fort Wayne business owners. His business has evolved from focusing on puppy classes and simple behavior issues, to training service dogs for veterans with PTSD (although he still does puppy classes and potty training). He also now holds seminars and trains future dog trainers. Mike helped my golden retriever and I accomplish our goal of being a therapy team — my dog passed his therapy certification with flying colors! Animal Training and Development is a wonderful asset in our community, check it out!
What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?
I recognized the need for professional dog trainers in the Fort Wayne area. There were only a few options back in 1986 and many people were turning their dogs into Animal Care & Control due to relatively common and simple behavior issues like housetraining, jumping, barking, digging and chewing. I took part in a “Animal Hotline” offered through Animal Care & Control once a week and fielded over twenty calls each day from people that were desperate for help. It was very rewarding for me as an entrepreneur to take those calls and meet the needs of the callers. Even though I was doing it for free, I knew the word would spread that people were getting help and that if it worked for them, more people would call. Within a few weeks, there were more calls to the hotline than I could manage and my business phone began to ring. It’s been ringing ever since.
What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community?
Animal Care & Control, Allen County SPCA, local dog rescue groups and local Veterinarians. All of these safe havens for animals were great places for me to grow as a professional and give back to those that give so much.
What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business?
It takes time and effort to be successful and even more so if you have no money for marketing. I started with zero investment capital and only passion and dogged determination kept me going through the lean years. Looking back, those were some of the best days. Living simply and enjoying what I was doing, knowing I could help people train and enjoy their dogs; it didn’t seem like work at all. The sense of accomplishment and freedom to do things the way I wanted were reward enough to keep me going.
What person has helped you the most in your journey?
Every client that found help and told one or two friends. To this day “word of mouth” proves to be good advertising.
What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs?
First, determine what it is you are passionate about, then figure out how to make a living doing it. If you can make a living doing what you are passionate about, you will never have to work a day in your life!
What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion?
Shop local. Find people that are from Fort Wayne to do business with. Look for that person locally with a passion for what you need. This allows entrepreneurs to succeed and for these passionate people to grow in their craft and abilities. As a community we can facilitate an environment that allows people to succeed and become the best in their chosen field. Imagine what that can do for local entrepreneurs and our city!
For more information about Animal Training and Development, or to sign up for classes, visit their website.