After 25 years as a global supply chain analyst, Tonda Benge traded in her corporate badge for a new career, combining her business know-how with her love for dogs. Her business, Professional Dog Mom, is more than just a dog walking service. Benge and her staff of “dog nannies” provide 30 to 60-minute walks, in-home overnight stays and daycare, socialization, transportation, dog park visits and basic obedience to busy dog owners in the Reno, Nev. metropolitan area.
Benge relocated to Reno in 2016 to launch her business after doing extensive research. In her first year, she hired four “dog nannies” as independent contractors. She’s since made them permanent employees and has hired five more
“We provide peace of mind for pets and people while acting as a surrogate parent, reinforcing positive behaviors, executing consistent training, and providing overall well-being care,” says Benge. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Nevada Humane Society.
An early customer referred Benge to SCORE just as she was launching, and Benge has been attending workshops and meeting with mentors ever since.
Initially, Benge sought mentoring to help with the transition from working with independent contractors to full-fledged employees. She says, “SCORE helped me do that by discussing the legal requirements, protocols, and sharing some guidance in how to transition.”
Benge advises other potential small business owners: “Don’t wait, just do it.”
Benge is a 2018 American Small Business Championship finalist. In 2018, she was also featured in Professional Pet Sitter, a publication by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.