Do you love animals? Have you considered a career in pet care? As Americans spend more money on their pets than ever, this could be the perfect time to launch your own pet-care business.
According to Fortune, pet-related spending has risen more than 25 percent since 2010, despite the number of pet owners growing only 3 percent.
As people increasingly view pets as part of the family, they’re more willing to drop cash on everything from premium pet food to doggie spa days.
That creates an opportunity for a wide range of pet-care businesses. If you’re looking for an “in” into the pet-care industry, you could be a dog walker, groomer, sitter, trainer, clothing designer, treat maker, or even a pet portrait artist.
Thinking you might want to become a veterinarian? Consider starting as a volunteer veterinarian. Volunteering lets you gain valuable experience. It also provides a risk-free, no-cost way to determine if working with animals is the right choice for you.
Need more ideas? Small Business Trends offers 50 suggestions for pet-related businesses.
Choose the right pet-care business
The right niche for you depends on two things: your skills and your market.
If you don’t have experience with training dogs, marketing yourself as a trainer probably isn’t a good call. But if you have a background in nutrition, selling homemade dog food and treats could be an excellent fit.
Likewise, if your neighborhood is already flush with dog walkers, you’ll face stiff competition entering the market as a new walker.
Instead of trying to carve space into a saturated market, look for unmet needs, and come up with ideas to fulfill them. For example, if most pet sitters in your town only offer sitting in the client’s home, boarding pets in your own home could attract customers who want their pets pampered while they’re away.
So you can focus on your business, consider using dog walking software that takes care of your administrative tasks.
Understand pet-care business start-up costs
Before you set your heart on a specific pet-care business, understand the start-up costs.
Some businesses require little more than savvy marketing, while others involve overhead expenses and equipment purchases. If you’re limited on capital, it may be wise to start with a low-cost business and expand your services over time.
Regardless of whether you’re walking dogs or opening a brick-and-mortar grooming salon, you need to have a firm grasp on your business finances.
Finances play a central role in the success or failure of any business. Have a plan for how you’ll fund startup expenses, whether through savings, a bank loan, or a credit card, as well as a system for tracking income and expenses.
Even if you don’t use credit to start your business, you’ll eventually need a business credit card. Business credit cards help you keep business transactions separate from personal transactions, among other benefits. However, there are a lot of options on the market for these types of cards. Rather than jumping on the first offer you receive, do your research and understand the pros and cons of each business credit card before making a final decision.
Create a marketing plan for your pet-care business
The next thing to do is create a marketing plan. Marketing is how you get clients in the door so you can start making money, and it’s how you grow a fledgling business into a profitable enterprise. To market successfully, you need to know who you’re targeting. If your target customers are pet owners in your own neighborhood, flyers and other forms of hyper-local marketing are your best bet. But if you’re selling pet goods online, you’ll need a multi-pronged approach that lets you reach customers in your neighborhood and across the country. You can learn more about effective small business marketing at Forbes.
Once you have a handle on start-up expenses, funding solutions, and marketing, it’s time to put it all together into a business plan. A business plan doesn’t need to be complex, but it should lay out a general roadmap for your pet care business. Even the best business ideas can fail without a clear plan for covering costs, attracting clients and running day-to-day operations.
Pet care is a great field for getting your entrepreneurial feet wet. There are a number of pet businesses you can start without incurring tons of debt or even quitting your day job. But before you dive into the world of pet-focused businesses, make sure you have the personality for the job. If anything matters to pet owners, it’s finding professionals who love their pets just like they do.
– By Jessica Brody