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GETTING GOING
3. BRANCHING OUT: BEYOND THE HOME ENVIRONMENT
Kate Bendix

KATE BENDIX

FOUNDER OF MY ITCHY DOG

It took Kate Bendix two attempts to find a business model that would take off. A BBC television producer, she “really wanted to go and run a web business,” so decided to launch an online pet shop. The business lost money, but she salvaged a new idea: to sell products for dogs which, like her own, suffer from itchy and irritable skin. My Itchy Dog was born.

Starting Out
STARTING OUT

“I started out incredibly slowly, with things like a really cheap website which I could add to when I could afford it, rather than going all the way from scratch,” Kate says. “I had a few customers from the previous business, and started by asking them what they wanted, which I still do today.”

Time to start
“I STARTED OUT INCREDIBLY SLOWLY”

For the first two years, she ran the business alongside her old job. “You need to have two jobs at the beginning,” she says. “Don’t think you won’t have to, because unless someone else is paying the bills, you do. If you put too much weight onto the business having to succeed, it probably won’t work, and the stress will get to you. It’s far easier if you are growing it small, even if it’s just a day a week.”

Getting Serious
GETTING SERIOUS

Two years in, she took the plunge, putting together a £5,000 pot to dedicate a full year to building the business. Through carefully tailoring products, and focusing above all on customer service, My Itchy Dog has built a strong and loyal following. “Customer demand will change and evolve and you have to evolve with it… I built relationships with my suppliers; I know all the people who produce my stuff, so if a customer asks me a question, I can get the information for them.”

Customer service, she says, “is paramount, more so than in a bricks and mortar shop. If you’re dealing with something emotive like pets, people want to talk and to understand.”

Customer service
“ CUSTOMER SERVICE IS PARAMOUNT ”
Moving Out
MOVING OUT

Having started as a home business, Kate eventually moved My Itchy Dog into a shared workspace: “My business has grown colossally because of co-working,” she says. “We’ve got web developers and software developers there. I’m not very technically minded, but if I ask how to do something, it can be sorted instantly.”

Working form home, she says, can mean endless distractions. “You can think of ten other things to do other than your work. So you need to be really disciplined, to find somewhere you can shut the door and just work. When you’re in there, you’re working. Then you have to come out at lunch and compartmentalise. And when you’ve finished, stop.”

Move Out Business expansion New location
“ GROWN COLOSSALLY BECAUSE OF CO-WORKING ”
Tips for Content
TOP TIPS

CONTENT

Content Ideas

As a former journalist, Kate has put her writing skills to good use in promoting her business. “I grew the business using social media, posting stuff to Facebook, which all my customers use. If you’re making content that’s useful, it drives people to your brand.”

KNOW WHEN TO STOP

Know whent to stop

“Working from home you get lonely, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s going to be isolating. Try to remember three things: eat properly, get some sleep and know when to leave it alone.”

BEYOND THE HOME ENVIRONMENT
3.1
3.3
JASON STOCKWOOD’S TIPS
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