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19 year-old entrepreneur grows small business quickly with $15,000 loan.

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Frank Arbens

Her website says that "Squeeky Clean Paws started a simple idea by a young girl with a dream — a dream to own her own business and work with pets and their owners." And at 19, Calgary's Danna MacMillan has come a remarkably long way in establishing a successful business. With help from the Centre for Small Business Financing and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), she has been able to grow her business quickly; by the beginning of December, she'll celebrate the grand re-opening of a large new location complete with new facilities and a number of programs never before offered in Calgary.

MacMillan got her first dog, Suzy, four years ago, when she was 15 — a grade 10 high school student. She'd always loved animals, and now that she had her own dog, she thought she'd learn more about the caring for dogs. She began by volunteering with a dog groomer in her Calgary neighbourhood, but she quit after her first day. "I was really quite horrified with how the dogs were being treated, so I couldn't take 'my baby' there." Dogs were being left in kennels, wet, for a number of hours, and she had problems with the way staff corrected dogs as they groomed them.

"So I just started grooming her myself," says MacMillan. Then she had an opportunity to watch a groomer with a different style. Her aunt had a problem dog and took her pet to a groomer in North Calgary. "She told me I could come with her some time and watch the grooming. I was much happier with the way she did things." She learned a lot of skills through observation, and before long, she began grooming her aunt's dog as well. Then friends and teachers hired her to do their pets.

Even at a young age, MacMillan knew she wanted to be her own boss and earn income from a business venture. She'd grown up with health problems that meant she probably wouldn't be able to...Read More
Posted in: Success Stories
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