From Injury to Award Winning Business Owner

There’s nothing we love more than getting to know FSB Members and their wonderfully varied businesses. This is part of our ‘We Protect You’ series of blogs in which we talk to you and find out more about your passions, your businesses and your histories.

We got talking to Andrew Ashworth, founder of IGO Pets Ltd. and winner of the FSB’s Start Up Business of the Year award 2018, about what it was that drove him to take on being a small business owner.

How Did You Become A Small Business Owner?

I started working for myself after a serious accident I had when working as a joiner, which left me wheelchair bound and unable to work for about 7 years. As anyone who’s been out of work a long time will know, it’s very hard to get a job when suffering from a disability and with a large gap like that on your CV.

When we had our first child, it was also important to be able to work flexibly, so I started selling pet food and supplies from market stalls, at galas and from my own mobile shop. It grew quite popular through word of mouth, and eventually I set up a formal premises after just 4 months due to high demand.

As time went on I acquired another premises and the business grew to have different arms- I did dog walking and pet sitting as well as the pet shop, and last year decided to close it all down and rebrand as one, holistic business. Ashworth Pet Services closed down and IGO Pets Ltd was officially born.

I now run IGO Pets Ltd, which is a pet shop, a pet-friendly café, pet boarding and dog walking company in Conisbrough, Doncaster. The shop is really quite unique in what it offers and is involved in a lot of local events and workshops.

Can You Tell Us More About The Local Events And Workshops You’re Involved With?

As an entrepreneur and business owner I really enjoy working on projects such a business panels and outreach workshops, engaging with the business community. My wife and I are active with the cubs and scouts, and we run lots of educational sessions and workshops with local schools. One popular session we run encourages children to come up with and present their own business ideas, and some of the ideas are really impressive and fun.

We also make our shop as accessible as possible, so we run lots of special educational needs (SEN) enterprises and workshops as well. We’re building a full sensory room which is very therapeutic for people with Autism and other special needs, and I’ve qualified recently as an enterprise coach to mentor and help special needs children.

Outside of the shop, my wife and I run a community allotment program for autistic people to get out and get involved in projects they may otherwise not have the chance to try. Running a business and having the ability to work flexibly has given me the opportunity to get more involved in my community and work on all these projects that help people in my area.

What Has Been The Highlight Of Running IGO Pets So Far?

In our first year we’ve already won a few awards, which is just amazing. We’ve won a few local small business awards and really didn’t expect to, but then we were lucky enough to travel to London for the National FSB awards where we won Small Business of the Year, which was incredible.

You can check out IGO Pets’ Facebook page to keep up to date with their projects and workshops at https://www.facebook.com/IGOPetltd/