The entrepreneur offering dog assisted workplace wellbeing

The entrepreneur offering dog assisted workplace wellbeing
Kate Bolland
Kate BollandMoment to Paws

Posted: Fri 22nd Jan 2021

Kate Bolland has turned a life-long love for dogs into a business that uses the animals to help employees and their managers improve wellbeing and personal growth.

Kate shares the inspiring story behind Moment to Paws and how the Amazon Small Business Accelerator has boosted her entrepreneurial skills.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

How did you come up with your business idea and turn that idea into a business?

Dogs have always played a huge part in my life. My mum and grandparents competed in sheepdog trials when I was a child and I was lucky enough to get my own dog at the age of 12. I remember rushing home from school to head out with my dog; I was never happier than when I was with her!

But as is so often the case, life got busy. I headed off to university and entered the world of work which unfortunately didn't lend itself to looking after a dog although I was lucky that I was always able to head back to my parents for a dog fix when I needed it!

The idea behind Moment to Paws came about when I was working in a senior position in a marketing agency. We occasionally had dogs in the office and I noticed how they boosted morale and engagement.

I began to research the impact that dogs have on people and I was overwhelmed by the science; from supporting mental health and reducing stress to aiding team cohesion, inspiring creativity and even boosting cognitive development. That's when I knew I had to explore how I could connect more workplaces with the positive influence that dogs have on mental health, interpersonal relationships and personal development.

Right now, we offer two distinct services; canine assisted employee wellbeing events and management training. Our wellbeing events allow people to completely switch off from day-to-day stressors, allowing them to recharge as well as form connections which otherwise may not happen. I'm currently talking to a lot of companies who are looking for unique ways to relieve anxiety and boost morale once people return to the workplace.

Our management programme is designed for managers with up to three years' experience. It is a 12-month long partnership combining coaching, training and mentorship to provide new managers with learning sustained over a longer period of time than many traditional courses.

Every session begins with a 20 dog walk where we reflect on learnings from the previous month. The fresh air, movement and presence of a dog really helps people to switch off from external distractions and focus on themselves for 90 minutes. I am really passionate about this programme. On average managers don't receive any formal training until they have been in their role for 12 years and when they do, it tends to be a day long course which is shown to only provide a temporary boost in performance. From experience, I know how difficult the shift from individual contributor to manager can be and the impact this can have on people's wellbeing; not to mention the effect on the team of an inexperienced manager.

I am excited to provide organisations with an alternative solution to management training which appeals to today's managers and provides sustainable performance improvements for the individual, their team and the business.

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

I left my full-time job to start Moment to Paws in March 2020, just weeks before the nation went into lockdown. At the time, my primary services - events and workshops - were reliant on people being in the workplace so overnight, my original plans were scuppered.

I spent the first couple of months in lockdown developing my skills and finessing my proposition. My aim was to be in a position where, as soon as lockdown ended, I had something great to go to market with. But of course, even when the first national lockdown ended, many businesses continued to work from home and those that did go back to the office did so on a restricted basis.

So realising that COVID-19 was going to be around for a lot longer than I think many of us anticipated (or wanted to comprehend!), I began to think about ways in which I could operate my business in line with social distancing requirements.

While I was in leadership roles, I had a business coach but, in all honesty, I found the experience uncomfortable; not a feeling that is very conducive to personal growth! I thought about how I needed to 'feel' in order to get the most from the experience; relaxed, happy, uninhibited and free of judgement. These are the exact qualities that our canine friends have been proven to deliver and so I began to invest heavily in my personal development to allow me to enter the coaching space.

I discovered a real passion for neuro linguistic programming and went on to study at Master Practitioner level while also studying traditional coaching practices, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy.

I knew I needed to hone down my practice to focus on a niche in the coaching space. And that's when I began to develop my programme for new managers. Management requires a complete shift in mindset but so often, people are left to figure it out themselves, leaving them open to feelings of vulnerability and stress. This is something I have first-hand experience with so I wanted to combine this with my continued professional development to develop a programme that truly gets to the heart of what new managers need during their transition. I couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Kate Bolland, Moment to Paws

What tips have you picked up from the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme?

The e-learning content has given me lots of new ideas and really helped me to focus on specific areas of my business.

The content from Paul Durrant on productising your knowledge through becoming an expert really makes you think about new ways to tell your story and the brand building content from Rachel Whittaker serves as a great reminder to always go back to your customer needs when developing your brand.

What are your top tips for business success?

Work on your mindset. Starting your own business is such a huge learning curve. Some days you can feel like everything is moving in the right direction, the next you feel like you've taken 10 huge steps backwards.

In tough times, it can be so easy to allow yourself to start questioning whether you're doing the right thing, if your idea will ever take off or if you're even capable of doing it. Keep going, work through it, be aware, acknowledge your dips, and embrace the highs. I find it useful to always have my mission in mind; that way, if you ever feel yourself entering a negative space, it serves as a brilliant reminder of why you are doing what you are doing.

I would also suggest surrounding yourself with a really strong support network; whether it's friends, family, the Enterprise Nation community or networking groups in your area. Starting your own business can be a lonely experience and it can be easy to think that any barriers you're facing are individual to you. The truth is, everyone goes through the same things when they're starting out; sharing with others is a sure-fire way to get the boost you need.

Finally, I would say try not to compare your progress with others. It's good to be aware of your competitors but if you get tied up with what they are doing, it will take you away from your purpose, only serving to dilute your brand. Stick to your reason for being; it's the only way that you will bring your own personality to your brand which goes such a long way with regards to authenticity.

Which other entrepreneurs inspire you and why?

I recently watched an interview with Anne Boden, the founder of Starling Bank, and I found her story incredibly inspiring. Her path to success is littered with challenges and setbacks; many of which would seem impossible to overcome for most people but not for Anne. Her resilience, vision and purpose shine through and I really admire her tenacity.

Also, Holly Tucker, founder of Her business was founded off the back of adversity with a clear mission and purpose. Despite working countless hours, she still always makes her family a priority and it's clear how her values transpire across the company.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

Kate Bolland
Kate BollandMoment to Paws
I established Moment to Paws with a simple mission in mind; to connect individuals and workplaces with the positive influence dogs have on our health, wellbeing and propensity to learn.  Having grown up with dogs, I knew the positive impact they had on my own outlook, but it was while working in a senior leadership position at a marketing agency that I began to explore their broader impact. I invested a significant amount in better understanding the links between mental health, holistic wellbeing, communication, neuro linguistic programming, personal growth and animal assisted therapy.  Very quickly, I knew I had to explore how I could make these benefits accessible to more people, both in and out of the workplace.  Today, all of our services draw on the positive influence of dogs to amplify the impact brought to individuals and workplaces. So if you’re a business looking to reduce stress and improve productivity, a new manager looking for support in your transition or an individual with a desire to change something in your life, I am proud to say that we can help.

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