Starting a Pet Business: What You Need to Know
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True animal lovers aren’t starting a pet business to get rich, but some enterprises can be very profitable, especially considering that Americans are expected to spend $72.13 billion on their pets this year – a trend likely to increase in the future.
For people considering starting their own pet business, whether it be a pet supplies store or pet care facility, here is some advice to consider before taking the leap into pet services. The start of the new year is a great opportunity to set your business goals to determine where you want to go from here.
You’ll be in a better position to sell your wares or services if you have experience or education in the pet industry. Volunteering your time at a local shelter or pet store would be great exposure to determine if you’re ready for entrepreneurship.
Undertaking a broad overview of proper dog walking, training, grooming, facility maintenance, and animal behavior would be wise if you plan to open your own boarding kennel, for example. It’s one thing to love animals, but if you can’t handle picking up dog poop, then you probably aren’t ready to open a kennel.
It’s important when starting a pet business to consider the safety of your customers. Dog bites can cause severe injuries, so make sure the pets you’re taking care of or selling at your business are well trained and not aggressive toward other people.
Another way to gain practical experience is to join Rover, which is a network of pet sitters and dog walkers who take care of someone’s pet either at their home or the owner’s home. Dog owners don’t always want to put their dog in a kennel environment, so Rover is a good alternative for a cozier experience. For Rover sitters, it’s a great way to make a little extra cash while taking care of someone’s dog and treating them like they would treat their own.
Find Your Niche
If you have specific knowledge or expertise in an area, you could eventually become a trusted source among pet parents who are increasingly becoming savvier when it comes to purchasing products and services.
Many pet owners are paying greater attention to what they are feeding their pets, for example. They want to know if the ingredients are healthy. If you’re known for making super tasty vegan dog treats, you could probably sell your product at a smaller pet boutique that specializes in holistic products. Dog owners who are concerned about their pet’s health are more than willing to pay for locally sourced products and quality ingredients.
Secure a Location
As they say: location, location, location. If you plan to have a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll have to choose wisely.
Big-box pet stores are usually easy to get to as they’re located in commercial areas next to other popular retail businesses. A small boutique location would need to see some heavy foot traffic in order for it to be profitable, preferably near other specialized shops.
Similarly, if you plan to open a kennel, the location should be convenient and accessible for customers, such as near an airport or even on your land if you are zoned for this type of business. For businesses that require you to take care of dogs, you’ll need to have the right dog kennel that’s both comfortable and secure for your pups.
The Legal Stuff
Before you jump into selling your products or services, don’t skip the legal aspects of starting a business. If you plan to secure funding through a bank, you’ll need a detailed business plan to determine if you’ll be able to pay back your loan and if the business is sustainable.
You’ll need to decide how you want to set up your business, such as a limited liability company (LLC), a sole proprietorship, or other entity. It would be wise to consult an attorney about the pros and cons of each. You’ll also need to get the correct kind of liability insurance to protect your location, property, finances, and yourself from any number of issues that could happen.
It’s also important to go to your local planning and zoning department to see what permits and licenses you may need, read up on zoning regulations where you want to start your business, and simply talk to a city or county employee who may be able to point you in the right direction.
Don’t forget to have a written contract between you and your clients if you plan to do dog walking or boarding. It will specify each of your responsibilities and the terms of your agreement – everything from authorization to obtain emergency vet care to the owner’s responsibility if their pet causes damage.
With so many pet-related business ideas out there today, you have the potential to fulfill your dreams of helping animals and their owners. Put your best foot (or paw) forward and you’ll do great.
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.