Do you want to start a dog sitting business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a dog sitting business with NO money and no experience. If you love dogs and have been looking for a business to start up that wouldn’t be too stressful or take a lot of capital, but would be quite lucrative, then you need to start a dog sitting business. There are several reasons why people require the services of a dog sitter but it is mostly because they would be away from home for a certain period of time either due to work or vacation.
The first thing you need to do before setting up this business is to write a comprehensive business plan. The next thing you should consider getting for your business is a license that will give you recognizable authority to run this business. You will also need a report card that will state all that occurred throughout the dog’s duration with you. The report card will also help you track medications for the dog and know when you might need to administer any.
Next is to determine how much you intend to charge your clients for sitting their dogs. The charges might vary depending on the kind of breed, how long you are expected to dog sit as well as how many dogs you would be sitting. If you need more convincing regarding the dog sitting business you intend to start up, this article is sure to help you with that.
17 Steps to Starting a Dog Sitting Business from Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
According to the forecast released by the Pet Sitting Industry for the 2017 and 2018 period, ownership of pets still remains high in the united states of America, which therefore caused an increase in pet spending. According to the recent report from American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet services such as sitting, grooming, walking, boarding, training, exercise and yard services more than tripled in the time under review.
Spending for pets saw a 12 percent increase between the periods of 2014 and 2015, as pet owners spent almost $5.41 billion on services that were related to pets. As the market for pets, its products and services grow, the industry is expected to generate more than $91 billion in revenue by the year 2019. In order to maximize the opportunities in this industry, most pet companies are using the current trends as well as the emerging trends in order to make forecast for future markets.
One of the reasons why Americans seem to be spending more on their pets is due to the fact that most of their pets are getting old and as a result are suffering from age-related conditions such as immune system issues, coronary, diabetes, joint, cognitive and cancer. A report in January 2015, found that 39 percent of those who owned dogs were dogs from age 7 and above.
As at 2013, the total money spent on pets in the United States of America amounted to nearly $66 billion, this has been increasing at a very rapid rate. Breakdown for the money spend in 2013 for pets in ascending order include; pet services: grooming and boarding $4.41 billion, live animal purchases $2.23 billion, veterinary care $14.37 billion, supplies $13.14 billion, and food $21.57 billion.
The reason why spending has increased is because pet ownership increased in the United States of America between the period of 2009 and 2013, which means that there was a 3 percent increase between these time periods.
Even though pets can be found in more than 67 million homes, households that owned dogs have steadily been on the increase which is not so for other pets such as cats, fish, horses etc. According to a 2013 survey that tried to find out why owners were spending more on their dogs, it found that more than 52 percent of dogs were overweight.
This invariably affects the health of the dog and makes the owner spend more in taking care of the dog. Thirdly, humans are beginning to bond more with their dogs, which is another cause for the increase in spending. The above trends show why there have been an increased spending for pets by the owners.
Pet sitters that are regarded as professionals have started to make use of technology in order to meet with their business needs. The use of technology is particularly important especially in an area where there is intense competition, and also to cater to clients that prefer to check online directories in order to find professional dog sitters. The use of technology involves using smart devices, pet sitter software, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to reach current and potential dog owners.
The households that are a major demographic for spending on pets and its related products are those that are in the high income bracket. According to Packaged Facts, the high income households are identified as a dominant force in the industry with a quarter of the pet market spending coming from this group.
This group is also expected to be the dominant force behind seeking high premium products for their pets. Most of these premium products fall into categories of food, toys, organic and natural treats, luxury services, prescription medications as well as high-tech medical therapies.
Some of the basic annual expenses for dogs include surgical vet visits, kennel boarding, food, grooming aids, vitamins, food treats and toys. It was found that more people spend more in taking their dogs to the vets for surgical visits.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic condition of those who require the services of a dog sitter are generally households where both couple has to work, single adults, business executives who might need to go on business and vacation trips as well as the aged and those that have a terrible medical condition.
Those who are likely to seek the services of a dog sitting professional are those who have disposable income to spend on discretionary services, those who have a special bond with their dogs and those who are on the high income bracket and so are able to afford premium care for their dogs.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Niche ideas are services offered by entrepreneurs to make their business stand out or be distinguished from that of their competitors in the same industry. There are several niches within the dog sitting service industry that are intended to distinguish one professional dog sitter from another.
However, while large scale dog sitting businesses can run more niches due to their economies of scale, smaller dog sitting businesses in order to get a loyal and steady customer base, may need to concentrate on few niches and ensure that personalized services are offered with these niches.
Therefore the niche ideas that you may decide to focus on as a professional dog sitter if you intend starting your dog sitting business are;
- Dog sitting
- Dog walking
- Pooper Scooper
- Dog boarding services
- Dog training services
- Dog grooming services
- Medical and taxi services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The fact that a dog sitting business is not a difficult business to start up and that one can operate from home does not mean that there is no intense competition in the market.
While one can run this kind of business from home, it should be noted that the only customers the business can get will be those residing within the vicinity of where the business is located. Therefore the competition that you are likely to face will be from those within the same area as you.
It is important that you conduct a survey on which area will generate more revenue for your business. This means that the area where you operate from, either home or via a leased or rented facility, should be one that has a lot of dog owners who don’t have the time to dog sit.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Below are some of the leading dogs sitting services in the United States of America and globally as well;
- Trusted House Sitters
- All Paws Pet Sitting
- Alone at Home Pet Care
- Happy Paws
- Walkies Pet Sitting
- Camp Bow Wow
Before starting your dog sitting business, you need to conduct thorough feasibility studies as this will help you determine if this business is something you should consider investing your time and money in. Dog sitting is a service oriented business that requires first of all, a love for dogs. If you do not love dogs, you would not be able to start this business.
An important factor to consider when going into this kind of business is how your business would cope should there be a downturn of the economy. This is because a bad economy would lead to more people not having disposable income to spend on discretionary services. If you however decide to locate or target those that are high income earners, you can be rest assured that no matter how bad the economy becomes, you will always have those who would seek your services.
Once you have decided to go into this business, you should be aware of industry trends that you will need in order to stand out from your competitors. Technology for instance is playing a huge role in this industry as entrepreneurs through smart devices and the right software are able to increase awareness for their business and also keep in touch with their existing customers.
Technology has made it possible for entrepreneurs to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram to keep in touch with their target market and through this means get a huge share of the market.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Starting your dog sitting business from scratch or buying a franchise depends totally on what your corporate goals and objectives are. You should be aware that each option has its pros and cons and you would need to therefore weigh each option carefully to determine what would be best for your business in the short and long run. Starting from the scratch for a dog sitting business may not be difficult especially as you do not require much capital or equipment to start this business with.
However, you will need to attract clients to your business and create a relationship with them so as to increase customer retention for your dog sitting business. The good thing about starting from the scratch is that you can effect strategies that you believe will have positive impact on your business and you can be in control of your business.
If you intend buying a franchise, you should conduct a thorough investigation that will allow you know about the company you intend buying from so as not to waste your money buying a franchise that will not pay you in the long run. The franchises in this business are those that offer more services than just a dog sitting business, so you might need to offer more services as well.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business faces threats and challenges during startup and whilst in operation and the dog sitting business is no different. As an entrepreneur, there are challenges and threats that you are expected to face when dog sitting for your client and they include, having to replace destroyed property, medical challenges that may arise for the dog and having to deal with difficult clients.
Asides these challenges, you could be threatened by your competitors who may be offering same services as you in the same location. Another threat is the downturn of the economy which will cause a decrease in the spending habits of customers. There is only so much you can do as an entrepreneur and therefore, you need to be proactive in dealing with your threats and challenges.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
choosing a legal entity for your dog sitting business is one of the most important decisions that you would need to take. This is because the legal entity you choose for your dog sitting business will go a long way in affecting how your business will grow in future.
If you are confused on the kind of legal entity to choose for your dog sitting business, you might seek the services of an attorney or an accountant who has the required experience in this field to help you choose a suitable legal entity for your business.
There are several factors that follow a legal entity that you might need to take into serious consideration and these factors are; the ease of set-up, taxation, liability as well as several other factors. In the United States of America, there are four legal entities that you can choose from when starting your dog sitting business and they are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
The sole proprietorship kind of legal entity is very easy to start up and there is usually one owner who is in charge of the business and is responsible for all the profits and losses made by the business. The partnership kind of legal structure usually involves more than one person who come together to agree to run a business. The partners all make equal decisions and any action taken is believed to have been endorsed by all the partners.
The corporation kind of legal entity is that in which the owners are regarded as separate entities from the business. This means that the law recognizes the business as different and deals with the business as a person by holding it liable for any profits or losses. The corporation legal entity is however difficult to set up and would require the help of attorney.
The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is one that is a hybrid of the partnership kind of legal entity and the corporation kind of legal entity. The LLC is regarded by law as an entity that is different from the owners just like a corporation; however, it enjoys the tax benefits that those in a partnership legal structure do. The LLC is also very okay for entrepreneurs that intend to run their business on a medium to large scale and employ as many people as possible.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Choosing a suitable business name for your dog sitting business is very important as the name you choose will determine how customers will perceive your business. The name that you should choose for your dog sitting business should be one that is unique, creative and very distinct so that it is easy for customers to remember them.
Below therefore are some suitable names that you should consider choosing for your dog sitting business;
- Paw Sitters Inc
- Paul Dog Sitting Agency
- Woof and Tumble Dog Services
- Pampered Paws Agency
- Wags Agency
- Sheila’s Professional Dog Sitters
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Having insurance for your dog sitting business is very important as it is compulsory that businesses in the United States of America get insurance policies. Your insurance policies will cover whatever incident that occurs during the course of dog sitting. Also, most clients only prefer to work with dog sitters who have their insurance policies in place.
Below is the list of insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you intend to start your dog sitting business in the United States of America;
- General Insurance
- Pet Sitting Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- Public Liability
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
An intellectual property protection is usually for those who have invented a product that would be of benefit to others and therefore seek to protect the invention by patenting it to make money from it. The dog sitting business is however a service oriented business that requires little or no equipment and would therefore have no need to apply for an intellectual property protection.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The dog sitting business is a service oriented business that requires no specific technical skills and certifications in order to start or run the business. All that is required is your passion and knowledge of dogs as well as your proven track success record.
There are certain training that would be of benefit to your dog sitting business especially as anything could occur during the course of dog sitting. Professional dog sitters usually get trained in first aid for dogs so as to be able to handle any emergencies that might crop up before getting professional help.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Having legal documents before you can run a business in the United States of America is compulsory. Not to have legal documents will mean not only running afoul of the law but also risked getting banned from running the business. It is therefore important that before you start your dog sitting business in the United States of America that you go to your city hall to make inquiries so that you would know what is required of you before starting your business.
Below are legal documents that you are required to possess if you intend to run your dog sitting business in the United States of America;
- Service contract documents
- Report card
- Instruction sheets
- Business Plan
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Operating Agreement
- Insurance Policy
- Federal Employer Identification Number
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Even though the dog sitting business is one that does not require lots of equipment to run, there are still several aspects where the money required to run the business might be more than you can afford and it is in this instance that you are required to use your business plan to secure the loan you will need to run your business. Once your business plan is comprehensive enough, you will discover that you will be able to convince investors to part with the money you would need to run your business.
Therefore in getting the necessary startup capital for your dog sitting business, here are some options that you can explore;
- Raising money from personal savings
- Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
- Seeking for loan from interested investors
- Seeking for loan from a local shelter
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Choosing the right location for your dog sitting business is very important as the impact of your location can either cause your business to become a success or a failure. If you are going to be running a very small scale business where you might need to visit the homes of your clients to dog sit, then you might consider running your business from home. If however, you intend to care for as many clients as possible, then you will need to lease or rent a facility where dog owners can bring their dogs.
Another factor that you have to take into consideration before choosing a suitable location for your dog sitting business is your target market. If your neighborhood has a lot of houses with dogs, then your location will be good for your business.
The decision to run your business from home or to rent or lease a facility should be dependent on the scale of business you intend to run. If you are going to run a medium scale business, you will notice that most of your serious competitors on this scale either lease or rent a facility and you have no choice but to do the same especially if you intend to compete favorably against these kinds of competitors.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The dog sitting business is one that is service oriented and therefore no technical skills whatsoever are required. Some degree of technicality may however be required if you intend to offer other sorts of services in addition to your core service. If you intend to run your business on a medium or large scale, there are some equipment that you will need to purchase.
They are; first aid kit, leashes and collars, bio degradable poop bags, computer, phone, whistle, vehicle, portable water dish and container.
There are a number of people that you would require especially if you intend to run your dog sitting business on a large scale and they are; chief executive officer (owner), manager, supervisor, front desk officer and dog walkers. To be able to run your dog sitting business successfully and to a certain standard, you would require at least 6 key people.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
In starting this kind of business, it is required that you learn all there is to know about dogs, so that you can identify breeds and know which breeds you shouldn’t mix together.
You would need to have engaged in several dog sitting services for your family members, friends and neighbors so that you will know and understand what is required. In dog sitting for clients, you will need to sign a service contract document with them to state what your tasks will be and then ensure that you carry out the tasks to the letter.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing your business is very important as this is where you would generate the revenue that will grow and sustain your business. However, before you can successfully market your dog sitting business, you would need to have a proven record to show clients that you thoroughly understand the business.
It is imperative that you conduct a market survey before deciding what marketing strategies would be very effective for your dog sitting business. The market survey will allow you to understand your target market and know what they expect from you.
Also, conducting a market survey will allow you to penetrate the market and not only get a fair share of the market but also favorably compete against your competitors. Your market survey will allow you exploit the weaknesses in the market thereby allowing you to have an edge over others.
Below therefore are some of the marketing ideas that should be used to generate revenue for your dog sitting business;
- Ensure that you mail your business card, brochure that contains your services and rates to the mail boxes of targeted customers
- Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin to market your dog sitting service
- Ensure that your dog sitting business is listed in yellow pages as well as online directories
- Ensure that you place adverts in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Distribute your handbills and business cards and paste your fliers in strategic and conspicuous places
- Engage in direct marketing of your services
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Boosting the brand of your business is very important no matter whether you are a new business or an already established business.
It is imperative that a budget be created so that publicity measures can be effectively implemented. Using a combination of methods – offline and online – will ensure that the image of the business is effectively boosted and reaches a wide audience.
Below are platforms that you can use in boosting the awareness of your brand and creating a corporate identity for your dog sitting business;
- Spread awareness about your dog sitting business at the local shelter
- Ensure that you distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic locations
- Join a local pets association in order to network and spread the word about your business
- Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your dog sitting business
- Join online pet forums and blogs to give advice and tips about dogs and spread the word about your business
- Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread awareness about your dog sitting business.