The Game Plan: Their Small Business Has Done OK in the Pandemic. Now What?

Caroline Edgar Albert trained horses for 20 years, then switched to dog training in 2009.

Her business, the Grateful Dog Training Inc., in Manchester, Vt., has remained solvent during the pandemic with the help of federal aid, a local grant and some ingenuity. Now she and her husband are thinking more long-term—about an exit plan within 15 years, and leaving some money to their two children.

When Ms. Edgar Albert started her business, training of dogs took place at clients’ houses, and she boarded dogs in her own home. In 2012, she took things up a notch by renting a storefront that now features a kennel. At its peak, the business, in addition to employing herself, her husband and their oldest daughter, had one full-time and three part-time workers.

This spring when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the couple went without wages and laid-off staff. Over the past few months, the training side of the business has benefited from the pandemic puppy craze, helping offset some of the losses elsewhere. “Overnight, dog boarding was down 55%,” Ms. Edgar Albert says, adding that she recently hired her teenage son to clean and brought back one part-time employee but feels like she is working round the clock.

She and her husband expect to earn $96,000 from the business this year before taxes. They have $80,700 in cash from the sale of a previous home and are considering using that money to purchase a storefront.

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