There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to starting your own pet business with dogs. A lot of people think that they need a large amount of financial backing from investors or a huge sum of money in the bank to launch a dog business venture, but that's simply not true. There are many pet businesses out there that can be started with little overhead costs, and many of them are dog related.
Wondering how to start a dog related business? It actually may not be as difficult as you think. With the right research, a solid business plan, and just a little startup capital, you could be well on your way to being a pet business owner.
There are many different areas of the pet market related to dogs that you can focus on and launch your pet business venture in, including:
- Doggy daycare
- Dog walking business
- Dog grooming services
- Dog health and wellness
- Dog breeding business
- Selling dog supplies
- Dog food and treats manufacturing
- Dog training services
- Manufacturing dog products
- Dog boarding and kenneling
- Online pet businesses
…and much more. In our Business section, we're hoping to extensively cover at least one type of dog business every week, so make sure to follow Top Dog Tips and receive some clever advice on how to start a dog business from some of our experienced columnists-entrepreneurs.
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The number one thing to do before starting your own dog business is to assess your personal situation and act accordingly. You must not only choose an undertaking that is affordable based on your financial situation, but also choose a business that interests you and that you are somewhat knowledgeable about.
Just because you love dogs doesn't necessarily mean you will be successful in all areas of the pet market. For example, without training and practice, you can't be a dog groomer. Without a large amount of startup capital, you can't start a pet supplies store (online or offline). If you don't have the health and nutrition knowledge required, you won't be able to create your own dog food blends.
Think about the skills and knowledge that you already have. What area of the dog industry do your abilities fit the best? Or, there may be an area that you have a large interest in and are willing to commit to the training required. Once you've narrowed it down to something that suits you and your abilities best, you're ready to begin planning the future of your dog related business. Now let's talk about how to start one.
How to Start a Pet Business With Dogs
There is much to consider before you decide to start your own pet business with dogs. Running your own business venture is a lot of work, it's very time consuming and requires a lot of discipline. Creating an accurate business plan and following through until you reach your goals is the only way to achieve success here, or anywhere else.
Here's a good sample pet business plan for a dog related venture: PDF.
Are you ready to own a business?
Before starting a dog business operation, you must decide if you are up to the hard work and dedication that it takes to launch a successful small business. The hardest part of owning a small business is that you are everything to everyone; you are the owner, manager, worker, accountant and usually handle all of the working parts of the business. It’s a lot of work and you really need to be sure you are ready to do all the different tasks it takes to establish and maintain a profitable dog related business.
We have previously covered a few sections of how to start and run dog businesses:
- How to Start a Dog Walking Business
- How to Write a Dog Walking Business Plan
- How to Start a Dog Training Business
- How to Write a Dog Training Business Plan
One of the key aspects to launching a successful pet business is knowing that you have a strong support system. Chat with your close friends and family about your business ideas and make sure that you have their support, because you're going to need it.
What are your skills, strengths and weaknesses
As I touched on before, your skills need to match up with the job that you will be doing, and that is true for any profession. When figuring out how to start a dog related business, matching your skills to potential business opportunities is crucial. You must also take a realistic look at how you will fit into that kind of undertaking. For example, if you dislike working with the people, then being a business owner in many different areas may not be the right fit for you.
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Likewise, you would not want to do something like start a dog related business if you were afraid of dogs or have never been around one. On the other hand, if you raised dogs all your life or you helped an uncle during the summers at his kennel, then you are probably a better dog business owner material than the person who doesn't know how to behave around dogs.
You also need to match the business to your skill set. You probably do not want to breed dogs if you do not know the first thing about bloodlines, pedigrees and other facets of breeding. Look to do something else like establishing a dog walking or dog training service if this is something you believe you can be good and knowledgeable at.
Just because you're interested in something doesn't mean you can turn it into a successful business, but it's definitely a good start.
When you make a mental list of your skills and weaknesses, don't forget to include all the work that goes on behind the scenes of a pet business.
Not only will you be responsible for communicating with customers and running the day to day business operations, but you'll also need to have basic skills in:
- Accounting; including taxes and budgeting
- Advertising and marketing
- Social media and websites
- Basic administrative tasks like filing, answering phones, and responding to emails
Starting a business can get expensive, and you can save a lot of money in the beginning if you do most of the work yourself. If you're unsure of some of your skills, but you're still interested in starting a dog business, look into business classes and training opportunities that will help bring your skills up to par.
“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.” – Debbie Fields
Is there a need? Assess the competition.
Next, in order to determine what type of dog business you will start, you need to look at the situation around you. If you want to start a kennel in a town that has 3,000 people and there are ten dog kennels already, then the market may be too saturated to start another one that will be successful. If you live in a place where there are hundreds of elderly people that own dogs, then that may be a great place to start a dog walking business instead.
Proper market research is a vital part of any successful business.
You can get information about the number of registered dogs in your town from your local government. Check out dog parks, pet stores and other places that dog owners frequent. See how busy they are, and even try talking with employees and customers to see if there is a need for your particular business in the area.
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Depending on your business, some pet owners may be willing to travel a small distance for your services. Typically there are groomers, pet stores and dog walkers in most areas with high dog populations. However, if your business is more diverse, like a dog training service, people may be willing to travel 30 minutes or more to get to your establishment.
If you're considering creating, marketing, and selling some sort of dog product, you can broaden your scope from your local area to dog owners in your state, country or even globally, depending on how far you are able to ship your product. If you're going to market your dog products online, you could potentially ship it to dog owners around the world, but you still need to do the required research to make sure that your idea is original, an improved version of an older idea and that there is a need for it.
Get the required permits and training.
There may be some kind of licensing or permitting that is required for starting a dog related business in your area. This is especially true if you want to get into something such as kenneling and boarding dogs or dog breeding.
There are usually zoning laws and such that would not allow you to start a kennel in certain areas, and businesses like dog breeding may require some type of specialty certification before somebody would consider buying one of your pups. There may also be additional requirements like an educational certification if you are doing something like dog grooming.
The easiest way to find out what licenses you will need is to contact your local and state governments.
However, this information can usually be found very quickly online. Federal information can be obtained through the U.S. Small Business Administration. You can also find individual links to each state's licensing and permitting guidelines on their website as well. Each respective government office will have all the information that you require about what types of permits and licenses you will need, as well as any special zoning or business rules you may need to follow.
Look at your finances.
When figuring out how to start a dog related business, you can't forget about finances. If you are just going to start a dog walking business, then you won’t need a whole lot more than a few leashes and a vehicle to get your business off the ground, but it’s a whole different ballgame if you want to board dogs or start your own pet store. These options could take a substantial amount of funding, and you will likely need backing from investors or a bank.
It is important to pick a pets business model that is within the scope of your financing. There is nothing that will sink any type of business ship faster than being under-capitalized for the work you are doing.
You are probably not going to be able to start a dog kennel business with $100 in the bank and no access to some sort of financing. It is essential to be ambitious and have lofty dreams, but it is equally important to be honest with yourself to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.
Begin planning for your business.
If you've thought it through completely and you believe that you're capable of starting and running a successful dog business, it's time to begin working on your business plan. This is where the real research takes place. If you're curious about what the parts of a business plan are and how to begin writing one, you can check out some of TopDogTips articles on this.
A pet business plan will need to be your number one priority if you're serious about starting a dog related business. Your business plan will be complete with a clear vision of how you will get your business off the ground, where you want the business to go in the future, and how you will achieve your goals.
Your business plan will also include specific information about:
- What supplies you'll need
- If you're going to have employees
- What kind of business entity it will be
- Where it will be located
- Your competition
- Your startup costs and finances
- First year income projections
The more research you do and the more time you spend developing your business plan, the more likely it will be that investors and banks will take your business ideas seriously. Think of your business plan as your businesses first impression. You want it to be well thought out and be full of reliable information.
Like any business, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to start a small dog related undertaking, but with a solid and reasonably attainable pet business plan combined with the proper effort it can be done very successfully.
References and further reading:
- Starting a Pet Shop Business
- Sample business plan (PDF)
- The Pet Industry: Another View of Economic Well-Being
- Getting Started in the Animal Care and Services Industry
- 2012 NAICS: 453910 – Pet and pet supplies stores
- Starting a Pet Food Business