Blog

Celebrating Success: Deborah Bradshaw

  • June 20, 2017
  • Written by Community Futures Manitoba

As Deborah Bradshaw’s seasonal job was winding down at the end of fall, she was facing another winter of unemployment. She was tired of not having control over her career and believed that an idea she stumbled upon—starting a company specializing in grooming and training dogs and cats—could be a steadier, long-term profession. There was just one problem: most people told her to give up on her dream. That all changed when she found Community Futures Winnipeg River! 

“Other people told me that I was crazy to start a kennel in the middle of nowhere alongside the Trans-Canada Highway,” Deborah remembers. “Not Community Futures. Michelle, Lindsey, and Florence all put their faith in me from the start and kept me going every day.”

The Community Futures team also provided much more than moral support. They guided Deborah through creating a business plan that positioned her for success, researching her ideal customer and market, and becoming familiar with effective marketing strategies. Armed with that knowledge and the Community Futures support system, Deborah went out of her comfort zone to make her dream come true.

“There were many times where I was frustrated and wanted to throw away that business plan, but instead I pushed to keep going and find a solution. Everyone had said that I couldn’t build a successful company in such a rural area, but while researching I found out that the town of Kenora had a population of about 15,000 people and a dog in every three households. Yet, they only had one kennel that could house 20 dogs. I realized that locating my company right by Highway 1 would reach many of those underserved families.”

With this realization, Deborah continued to persevere toward her entrepreneurial vision in the face of doubt and challenges, a tendency which she attributes to years of Taekwondo martial arts training. “I started Taekwondo when I was 50 years old as a means of exercise, but it quickly became so much more than a way to stay fit,” she explains. “It took me 7 years to acquire my first black belt, and I only achieved that milestone because I didn’t quit even when it got really tough. In entrepreneurship, like Taekwondo, it’s incredibly important to pause during hard times, find a solution to your problem, and follow through with it.”

In fact, that kind of grit is what she admires most in her role model, Cesar Millan. A dog behaviorist known for his television show “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” he built his brand and television show from nothing, never letting setbacks stop him from achieving massive success. Deborah urged herself to follow in the footsteps of her mentor and opened the doors to Dog Creek Spa & Kennel, located in East Braintree. Whereas before Deborah was worrying about having a job through the winter, now she caters to a slew of dog clientele all year round.

“There’s nothing quite like walking for 3 miles with 8 leashed dogs every day. It’s incredibly relaxing to be able to enjoy the present moment without worrying about my job in the future, and I always appreciate the feeling of the dogs happily strolling alongside me. Those daily walks are my favorite part of owning Dog Creek Spa & Kennel.”

Deborah’s newfound career has been so successful that she was able to train twice with her role model, Millan, and plans to attend another weeklong training with him in November—a dream come true. And as for her experience with Community Futures during that initial idea-to-plan-to-reality phase of her business, Deborah puts it simply: “Without Community Futures, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

We’re so happy to help, Deborah, and couldn’t be happier for you. Congratulations on your small business success!