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The Importance of Relationships in Small Business Ownership


As our one year mark slowly approaches (July 2017), I'm reflective upon the achievements and strides All Bark Boutique has made within its first year.  The idea of All Bark Boutique was originally to create an online boutique that sold everything dog-related from clothing to treats and even hand-knot dog blankets!  That would have taken me forever and my fingers probably would have fallen off!  

I instead narrowed my focus on dog treats because I not only love designing and creating the recipes, but dogs absolutely loved them.  I have always experimented with recipes by other people but decided to start from scratch just like you would any short story.  

It's been amazing to see the transformation of ideas over the past 12 months as All Bark Boutique has grown into a dog treat powerhouse!  I like to think we are starting a treat revolution because our dog treats not only use human-grade ingredients, but they can be refrigerated and stay well for a month once opened.  I have received feedback that their dogs digestive systems seem to be working better when they started having them as snacks which brings me so much joy!

The one concept I've been really proud of is that we have partnered with multiple small businesses and their owners to not only help one another out, but to focus on spreading the idea of healthy living across many platforms.  

The first partnership I joined was with Happy Paws Pet Nanny in Bristow, Virginia.

  

Partnering with them and feeling like I was a part of a community was a huge stepping stone in not only my confidence as a business owner, but in some way it began to validate that my products really could compete against large mass marketers such as Chewy.com and other dog treat carriers.  Happy Paws Pet Nanny still works within the pet industry but doesn't compete directly which allowed me to realize I need to build my "tribe."  

Next, I partnered with The Be Studio and Wellness Center out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Now, they are beginning the franchising process which is really neat to watch because they too have an alternative business style and structure from what my goals are.  This has allowed me to learn from their progress and reach a new customer base that believes in holistic health and living a wholesome life.  

I was very familiar with Virginia because I went to George Mason University some time ago, and loved the culture and constant buzz that exists.  Just after those two business partnerships, I was introduced to the lifestyle magazine, Aurora Zen.  They are also out of Northern Virginia and promote the authentic world of small businesses and their unique products.  We will be in their magazine alongside Happy Paws Pet Nanny so we can continue to spread professional and wholesome pet services in the Northern Virginia area.  Be sure to subscribe and look for the magazine on newsstands!

And finally, recently my journey with business partnerships and contacts has tied together beautifully by being picked up by another small business, Sweet Zen7

Our all natural gourmet dog treats are now offered alongside their all natural and organic pup cups!  How cool is that?  It was such an exciting and challenging period of time because I had to use my skills to create wholesale contracts and pricing to determine what keeps us functional but also is fair to the distributor.  It has been a pleasure to work with every single business partner I have met so far, and I am thrilled to meet those in our future.  

Business partnerships cannot be underestimated.  Small businesses need to work together from all different platforms to support one another and build a better community around them.  Most small business owners started their ideas in their own homes or went in deep financial debt to passionately work on their ideas because they believed in them. 

By meeting new people we can form new ideas and grow with society.  As the famous saying goes, "You know what you don't know and you don't know what you don't know."  Being able to learn from other viewpoints will keep your mind fresh and open to new possiblities.