Anti 9-to-5 profile: Erika Teschke, dog walker

July 10th, 2009

With everyone talking about career change these days, I thought it would fun to examine the work/life balance of those who’ve transitioned to some of the most coveted careers out there. First up, Erika Teschke, who in 2005 left her 10-year career as a legal professional to start her own dog walking and pet sitting business. I recently interviewed Erika by e-mail. Highlights follow. 

[Photo courtesy of Erika's Pet Service]

Q. What’s your typical work schedule?

A. Mondays through Fridays I do dog park runs 5 hours a day, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. I also do about 30 minutes of stopovers during the week, where I feed and visit a pet that’s home alone, either before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. On weekends, I’ll do about three hours of paperwork and stopovers. I try not to work before 9 a.m. and past 6 p.m., but I have to be flexible on this if I have a pet that needs medicine or a walk at a particular time.

Q. How has your work/life balance changed since starting your business?

A. I definitely have more personal time now. However, the anxieties are different. Whereas being in an office made me a slave to the man, now I am responsible for everything: income, business success, client development, dog safety, responsibility as a walker, giving back to the parks I use, to name a few. I also have to be available for clients. At first I made myself available at all times when I was trying to grow the business. But now, since my clients and I have well-established relationships and they trust I will get back to them in a timely manner, I feel more comfortable making the evenings my own. I still work many weekends doing vacation stopovers. It is just the nature of the business.

Q. Still, a 30-hour workweek sounds pretty great. What’s the catch?

A. I make about $25,000 less than when I worked at the law firm. [Read the rest at NWjobs.]

Entry Filed under: Anti 9-to-5 profiles,Balance,She's the boss,Working moms

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kimberly Gauthier  |  July 11th, 2009 at 11:03 am

    A friend of mine just started a dog walking/pet sitting business this year and she gets three inquiries from her website a week, which is fantastic! It’s such a nice business; I love working with animals.

  • 2. The Ripe Tomato Awards: 1&hellip  |  July 13th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    [...] Michelle Goodman brings levity and experience to the world of freelancing—whether you walk dogs for a living or teach pole-dancing classes.  Since I wear many freelance hats, Goodman’s wit is [...]

  • 3. Chantielle  |  October 29th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    As strange as it is, I’ve always wanted to be a dog walker or pet sitter! Maybe someday I’ll be as brave as you and start my own business. Can you suggest any online resources?

  • 4. Michelle Goodman  |  October 30th, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Hi Chantielle, you’re looking at one. This is what my books cover. :) I interviewed Erika for my first book and I know that her main form of research was talking to other pet business owners. I don’t think she found many “pet business owernship” resources online. But any small business resource will do: http://www.biznik.com, http://www.score.org, etc.

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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