Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mission Main Street Grant

I'm taking a break from my series on canine body language to tell you about an amazing opportunity I found out about recently. Every year, Chase Bank gives a bunch of money in the form of grants to small businesses. This year, they are giving 20 small businesses $100,000 each and I would really love for Smart Pups to be one of the lucky recipients.
The way it works is any for-profit small business that has 100 employees or less that has been in business for at least two years. There are a few more rules, feel free to check them out here. Eligible businesses submit an application, complete with five essay questions:
  1. Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape and overall performance.
  2. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
  3. How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
  4. What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
  5. What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
Those have to be answered in 200 words or less; let me tell you that was tough! Apparently I tend to use lots of words...

After submitting that, the small business isn't done- now they need to get 250 votes to get to the next stage of voting. The businesses that get 250 votes will then be reviewed by a panel selected by Chase, to find the twenty businesses most deserving of the grants. Here's a link to this year's panelists.
They choose the winners and notify them and the winners get to build their businesses and help their community. Oh yeah, they are all about how these winners will help their community. Not to brag or anything, but a dog trainer who understands dogs, people, science, behavior and communication is a perfect choice to help the community in which they live.
Before you go voting or not voting, I just wanted to share with you my dream for Smart Pups and how I would use this grant if I were to win.
Though I have faced challenges along the way in the form of difficult dogs and people, the biggest challenge I have face in the past 5 years has been finding a good, affordable facility for group classes. When Smart Pups was located in New York, I was lucky enough to build a friendship with another trainer who was generous enough to share her training facility when she wasn't using it. Here in Salisbury, I am currently renting outdoor space in an equestrian show ring, which works well. The downside is that it's outside so if it rains or it winter, I can't have class. The ring is not completely closed in and is outdoors so it's not fit for puppy class. What I plan to (someday) do it build a training facility, where there is indoor heated and cooled space as well as outdoor space for classes. With the indoor space, I won't have to watch the weather constantly and classes will have a more definite start and end date, making it easier to plan classes far in advance. With secure indoor and outdoor space, my clients will have the comfort of knowing their dog is safe and the environment is ideal for learning- no unexpected passers-by and comfort in all seasons. With a facility offering storage and more space, I could also offer more specialty classes like reactive dog class, puppy class and agility training. By offering more services, I could reach more of the dogs and their humans in my community and help them all to learn to be more polite and responsible when out and about. If more people understand their dogs, and more dogs are getting training and good socialization opportunities, the more well-behaved they are. The thing is, dog training isn't exactly the most lucrative career, unless you can get a T.V. show and work with celebrities. I don't see that in my future, so to build all this will mean saving up for a while and even then, taking out a loan to build. Not that I mind that- that's my plan and what I will do no matter what, but the opportunity to do it all so much sooner that I thought possible would be amazing.
So, if you have a minute, please go to  and type in Smart Pups in the box, then click on vote. It does make you log in with facebook, because they want to verify you are a real person, but it all seems pretty kosher to me :)

That's it for this week- I'm going to finish up the next in the canine body language series and get it up (hopefully) within the next couple days.

Thanks and please vote for Smart Pups!