Career & Business

#TheProof: How This B-Schooler Turned His Love for Dogs into a $40k/Month Business

July 20, 2023

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#TheProof is a series that celebrates the success of our community. We can’t be what we can’t see, which is why we proudly feature our students from across the globe who’ve made their dreams a reality. 

Lucas was the kind of kid who waited on the front steps during “Prime Dog Walking Hour” to pet every dog that walked by — with permission, of course! He’s a professional pet groomer, B-Schooler, and founder of Ruff Revolution. Here, Lucas shares how he escaped a toxic workplace to launch his own mobile pet grooming company that makes $40k/month with a team that feels like family.

Pay close attention to this Q&A and you'll learn how Lucas:

  • Followed the “nudge” to start his own business
  • Ditched his corporate job to earn 50% more and have the flexibility to be a foster parent
  • Revolutionized his industry and created a tight-knit team who calls each other family
  • Scaled from zilch to $40k a month in just two years

First of all, we’re a little bit obsessed with you. Team Forleo has been drooling over dog photos on your Insta all week.

Haha, I’ve pretty much always been obsessed with animals. I have memories before kindergarten of waiting at the front door peeking out to see if someone was walking their dog. Especially at Prime Dog Walking Hour, I would just sit there and wait. As soon as I spotted one, it was like I was fishing. I'd run over to the kitchen and be like, “Mom, can I go pet their dog!?” Then I'd rush out the door before even waiting to hear what she said.

When did you know you wanted to start your own business?

Everybody told me I was going to be a veterinarian. But it just never quite made sense for me. I was the kid selling bouncy balls at the playground over lunch break and stuff like that. But really, my entrepreneurial spirit came from my grandfather. He was an entrepreneur.

He passed away in a freak accident a few days after his 31st birthday. But, he and my grammy had already built a produce company that sold to all the restaurants and markets around their town in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. His short life gave me a sense of urgency about living the adventure I felt called to. Because having more time is never a guarantee.

Would you say grooming is your “calling”?

I really like working with animals. But after grooming professionally for 5 years, I was burning out from the stress of grooming 8-12 dogs a day in a hectic salon. I knew it wasn't sustainable for me. The wear and tear on my body, lack of breaks, and neglect of mental well-being (as a person who is very sensitive to sensory overload due to PTSD, ASD & ADHD) was altogether too much.

Yikes, that sounds grueling!

We were always so understaffed. Everyone at the salon was just irritable and burned out. It takes years before you get good at grooming. But most groomers only groom for 5 to 10 years before they change industries. The idea of having an expiration date on those skills so soon after the competency date just seems absolutely ridiculous to me!

As hard of a job as it is physically, it isn't the physical component. The main reason for people changing industries that fast has more to do with being on teams that don't prioritize mental health, don't talk about time management, or self-care. Like, none of that is on the table.

What about you? Did you ever think of doing something else entirely?

I thought about other careers the whole five years of my grooming career. I thought about being a Spanish teacher. Or going into architecture. But I was crushed to feel like I had to choose between my beloved profession and my own well-being. Plus, I had this gnawing feeling that I’d never be satisfied if I didn't at least try to start my own business.

“I had this gnawing feeling that I’d never be satisfied if I didn't at least try to start my own business.”

At one point, you got a very clear wake-up call… Can you tell us what happened?

The stress from work led to me having tunnel vision. Ocular migraines. My vision started cutting out. Not entirely, but the center of where I was trying to focus… I couldn't see. I told my manager about it, who was not a supportive person in any way, so I don’t know what I expected. And I told my team members about it. But, they just looked at me and went back to what they were doing. That was a big turning point for me.

That was the moment where I was like, “Yeah, my body's not gonna let me keep doing this at this pace. In this environment, at least.”

That’s so scary! Is that when you decided to strike out on your own?

I took a month long medical leave in 2020. That gave me the perspective to take the leap. I got to truly relax and focus on me. The closer I got to the end of my leave, the more I dreaded the idea of going back to the sheer discomfort I felt in salon life.

The whole last week of leave, I researched every different niche of the grooming industry. That’s when I stumbled upon this new niche called mobile grooming. I became a ball of excitement and terror about it. But, I didn't know any concrete steps to make it happen.

That’s when I decided to do B-School.

Then what happened?

After spending months building our first unit and preparing a business plan, I launched our mobile pet grooming company the following year. Within 3 months of launch I went full-time and made my first 2 hires!

I knew that I wanted to do things differently than where I’d worked before. It turned out, mobile grooming was just what I needed!

I can focus on one pet at a time and have more control of not only my schedule, but also my sensory input. I get to be out and about all day enjoying the fresh air and natural light. I get to connect with one pet at a time and the space to focus and complete grooms that I'm proud of, which are so satisfying to sculpt.

Wow, Lucas, that’s amazing!

I’d been watching MarieTV for years, so when I filed my LLC paperwork and the next round of B-School was coming up, I thought, “This is a call from the universe.”

I took B-School to do everything I could to invest in my dream business's success. We've been steadily growing ever since — despite nearly NO paid marketing. We have raving, reliable clients. It’s two years since launch, and we're up to $40k/month in sales and the profit margin is almost more than my salary now.

“We're up to $40k/month in sales and the profit margin is almost more than my salary now.”

That’s gotta feel good.

My favorite part is the freedom and flexibility in my schedule. I'm a foster parent, so you never know when they're going to have an appointment or need to go to the doctor, or sibling visits, or court hearings…

Fostering was something I knew I wanted to do. But, I didn't actually start that until launching my business because my corporate job didn't give me the flexibility needed.

That’s so inspiring.

That was one of my top goals for B-School. To have authority over my time. And to better serve the animals that we spend our lives with.

You wrote down a few other big goals at the beginning of B-School. Can you tell us what they were?

In the first Module of B-School, Profit Clarity, I wrote down five goals. I’ve already accomplished the first four and am on track to hit #5 this year!

The first one was to be full-time self-employed. I did that three months after launching. Second, to earn 50% more than I did at my corporate job. Third, to become the employer of choice for other groomers in my area. To compensate and treat my groomers better than any other salon.

Fourth, I wanted to offer profit-sharing and a 401k match – done! And finally, five, to reach $500,000 in sales per year. We’re on track to do that this year.

We’re cheering for you right now! I hope you’re incredibly proud.

My favorite part is seeing groomers reignite their passion for their work, dropping the time stress, and connecting with animals again. Being able to help our community and the animals that serve them is so rewarding. And building a team that feels even more like family than our families of origin. We’re watching out for each other.

What do you wish more people knew about starting a business? Any advice you’d give?

Before starting my own business, I had this idea that being an entrepreneur meant I'd have to reinvent the wheel. But it's really just about having a vision and then looking for examples. You don't have to make something that's never existed before. You can just do it in a way that nobody else has done it.

I'm definitely not the first mobile grooming company. But I asked myself, “What's going to make this business worth creating? How is it going to impact people's lives?” And then reverse engineered it from there.

Thank you, Lucas, we love you!

What did you notice from Lucas’s story? Any ahas you can apply to your own life and business? Let us know in the comments below.

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