If you enjoy being outside and work with numerous four-legged coworkers, and also be your own boss you've probably considered whether or not it's feasible to start a dog walking business.
After all, being a dog walker and owning a dog walking business is pretty much the polar opposite of a typical office job; you get to spend time outside, stay active, and see dogs all day. What could be better?
You may be wondering how to start a dog walking business that can survive on its own and how to get your dog walking business up and running.
Starting a dog walking service is not entirely simple. When starting any business there are several financial and risk-related issues to consider. In this article we'll try to go through every step you'll need to take, as well as demonstrate how to start a dog walking business.
So how do you become a dog walker and potentially a business owner? you'll have to weigh the same financial concerns as you would with any other small business. The success of your dog walking business will be determined by how well you handle the additional responsibilities. You'll have to balance administrative work with your regular walking routine. Let's look at some of the things you should know before you start a dog walking service.
Any organization must have a solid strategy in place in order to succeed. It's also preferable to write a business plan now rather than after your firm has grown and you have less time to devote to the task, since it will allow you to prepare a plan with your clear thinking before all of the obligations fall on you and prevent you from thinking clearly. You may use the following steps to create a business plan as you plan to own dog walking business:
1. Market Research:
“Supply and demand,” you've most likely heard of before. It's a common concept in any industry.
In order to increase revenue, businesses that offer services in higher demand might charge their customers more. As long as there are more consumers than companies supplying the service, this is achievable. If there are an excessive number of suppliers and a limited number of clients, each supplier reduces rates in order to retain a competitive edge for the smaller group of clients.
This may seem unrelated to dog walking, but everything has to do with how you develop your business if you want it to be a success. Make sure there aren't already too many dog walkers in your target market—otherwise, you could have a hard time finding dog owner clients and differentiating yourself from the other dog walking services as you don't want to be same as most dog walkers you want to be unique in your own way.
You will need to research your competitors and find out what they offer for their dog walking services so you can plan a head what you can offer to your potential pet owners clients. You will need to reach out to other dog walkers and try to find out valuable information about their business structure, such as:
How busy are they?
You can try to schedule dog walking services so you can experience various competitors for yourself or just interview them and ask how many dogs they provide service to and what their availability looks like. This will tell you if there is a demand in the area for dog walkers. If the competitors are very busy this will be a good indicator that it will be easy for you to find pet owners clients.
What does their service include?
What is included in their service? Are they taking the dogs to a dog park or just to a random parks in the area. If most of the dog walkers offer a walk around the block maybe you can offer a different kind of dog walking service and take your dogs to a special dog park where they can meet with other dog friends.
Are additional services offered to dog owners?
Do they offer other services like pet sitting (you may as well market your business as a pet sitting business too ) or boarding services? Do they offer dog treats as part of the pet sitting? Can they offer pet first aid if needed? You may want to add completion of a pet first aid class to your credentials.
Once you gather all this information it will give you a clear idea of what dog owners in the area will expect to get from your services. It will also be an opportunity for you to explore what you can do better in terms of better service or better product than the average dog walker.
You may think that starting your successful dog walking business has minimal start-up costs because, after all, don't you only need a decent pair of walking shoes? However, you may discover that some additional money is required to get your business started or to help it grow and hire employees.
Write down all the business expenses you may have, such as:
Licenses and LLC formation fees for liability protection
Any equipment you may need from garbage bags, gloves, extra leashes, dog treats etc.
Transportation expenses: do you need transportation for yourself for the dogs or for your workers if you plan to provide services to multiple dogs or senior dogs.
Will you walk dogs to special dog parks that charge a fee
Liability insurance cost.
Employee related expenses.
Write down the revenue you plan to earn from your dog walking services so you can figure out what your your cash flow and profit will look like.
If you need a car for transportation you should look at automobile loans geared for small companies. You may need a car or vehicle to transport your dog walking company's furry clients. Certain auto loans enable tiny firms to acquire vehicles while typically providing a lower interest rate.
3. Get Legit:
Every municipality and state has its own set of rules regulating business licenses. That's true for both big businesses and individuals and solo entrepreneurs. Even if you want to operate a dog walking company comprising only yourself and your canine companions, you'll need to register with your local government body to ensure that what you're doing is legal. In most cases, a straightforward and inexpensive business license will be needed.
LLC (Limited Liability Company) :
Setting up an LLC for your dog walking business will be essential to keep you safe from being personally liable. Your personal assets will be protected from the business debt.
An LLC allows you to keep your personal finances distinct from your company's. An LLC also provides professional distance between yourself and any legal difficulties that your business might face. This is particularly advantageous for pet walking businesses since they may be held legally responsible for any problems that arise with their customers' beloved pets. If you do not have the appropriate protection granted by an LLC, your personal income and assets could be at risk.
As part of your LLC formation you will need the following:
Business bank account:
This will provide separation of your personal assets from your dog walking business assets and keep your LLC in compliance.
You will need to get a special number called EIN number (Employer Identification Number) in order to open a business bank account. This number will also be used to prepare your taxes for your business.
A registered agent is a person or firm that has been designated to receive legal deliveries (also known as service of process) on behalf of dog walking companies. Registered agents are in charge of accepting registered agent notifications from the Secretary of State, as well as other legal papers including subpoenas, tax forms, regulatory notifications, and any other correspondence. Some dog walking businesses choose to be their own agents but it is not recommended for 2main reasons:
a. You must be available during the business hours at the address you have provided so you can receive legal notifications.
B. You might be served in front of your customers, which would damage your reputation and the quality of the service. You risk being overwhelmed in front of your clients, something that may have a negative influence.
When you own dog walking business you must make sure you are operating a legit business and comply with all the LLC requirements as a small business owner.
Dog walking insurance:
A dog walking business, like any other small firm, requires some sort of insurance—whether it's for a home-based operation or a manufacturing company. In most cases, the more liable your firm is to have something break down, someone get harmed, or something go wrong on its premises, the more comprehensive dog walking insurance you'll need to cover yourself.
When you work with animals, as in a dog walking business, the need for insurance becomes even more essential. To begin with, you'll want to investigate a comprehensive general liability policy that will safeguard you if anything happens on your customer's property (or on anybody else's when walking dogs).
When you're looking for insurance for your dog, you'll also want to consider personal and commercial property insurance to protect against any losses (or damages) if a dog goes off the leash and causes damage to you or your company's property. If you wish to transport dogs in your automobile, or if you decide to offer animal boarding as a service.
Before you start your dog walking business, make sure you have all of the coverage you need. Check with an insurance professional and any local regulatory boards to verify that you have all of the coverage required.
Even after you've done all of the planning and logistics, you're only halfway finished with the job it takes to get your dog-walking firm up and running. You'll still need to promote your services in order attract more dog walking clients.
The good news is that marketing your dog walking business should not be that hard:
spread the word about your new dog walking business to your friends and family members so they can share with theirs. Word of mouth marketing can be very powerful. Many individuals would rather entrust their dog's care to someone they heard about through a friend than give it up to a complete stranger.
Social media platforms: create an account for your business on all social media sites you can share helpful tips about your furry friends.
Online marketing: post your business on local business registries like google maps.
Local marketing: You can leave a business card or a flyer at your local pet store. Many pet stores have an ad board to allow service providers to offer their services to pet owners. You can post on local papers announcing about your dog walking business. Post at dog groomers (you may offer to provide transportation services to their business win win).Post at apartment buildings.
Branding can be a very powerful vehicle to promote your dog walking business. With powerful branding, you can grow faster and even sell products with your brand on it. To build a brand you will need to:
Create a logo for your business:
Choose a name for your dog walking business and create a logo for it. You can hire a freelance logo designer; many of them are listed on fiver.com
Get a domain:
Get the domain with your business name. You can purchase the domain at sites like Godaddy.com
Building an attractive business website is a good first step to launching your dog walking brand. This should include information about yourself, your expertise, why you love dogs so much, the locations where you operate, pricing, and contact information for interested dog owners. You can post some pictures of yourself walking dogs. A business website is usually inexpensive and simple to maintain, and it can help you develop a brand for your dog walking business while also giving you the opportunity to promote your goods or services such as pet sitting business.
Some small business owners fail with this step but it is very beneficial to follow it. Make sure the name you choose for your business is available in the trademark registry; this way you can be certain that no one has the legal right to use it. The last thing you want to happen is for someone else to be using the name for the same purpose and ask you to cease using theirs.
The bottom line
You might be shocked to learn that starting a dog walking business requires some forethought and preparation. When you start your own business, you must make sure it is properly organized and compliant, as well as protected if any accidents occur in the future. Taking care of animals also has its own set of concerns.
Fortunately, as long as you fulfill all of the criteria for establishing a canine walking service–from obtaining the required permissions and insurance to locating the ideal financing–you will be well on your way to making money from walking dogs.