If you love animals and would like to turn that passion into a career, starting your own pet sitting business can be a rewarding decision. Getting started in the pet sitting industry is relatively inexpensive but does require interested entrepreneurs to get the right permits and licenses for their particular city and state. The purchase of some minor pet-related equipment may also be necessary.
This article will highlight the steps you need to take to properly plan your pet sitting company and also provide best practices for running your business successfully.
Planning Your Own Pet Sitting Business
Even if you are an experienced pet sitter, you will still need to take the time to plan out your new small business with care. Take the time to map out a formal business plan that includes everything from the type of pets you will serve to liability insurance information for pet owners. Your business plan should offer details into all of your estimated startup costs, whether you will be obtaining any building spaces or vehicles from which to operate your business, and the pricing you plan to set for your services.
Determining what type of pet care you will provide is the first step. Will your startup specialize only in the traditional pet sit or will you have the facilities and expertise to offer other services? Full-service pet sitting businesses can offer:
- Dog walking
- Dog training
- Pet daycare
- Kennel services
It's important to note that a pet sitting business can typically be launched with a minimum of a high school diploma. However, professional groomers and pet sitters who plan to extend to other services that might be facility-based may have more intricate licensure requirements. For example, a dog grooming license and professional certification are required in some states but not in others. Some states may mandate that the facility where the services are rendered be licensed, while others may require that the individual groomer have licensure, both, or neither.
Be sure to stop by your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office before officially launching your new business so that you know what's expected of you in terms of certifications and licenses.
Legally Launch Your Pet Company
The launch of your new pet sitting company comes with a few governmental requirements, as well. Before you begin formally offering your pet sitting services to potential clients, make sure that you have done the right research so that your company meets local and regional legal expectations. The following section will highlight common legal considerations that come with founding a business in the pet industry.
Registering Your Pet Sitting Business
The first step to legally registering your pet sitting business is to come up with a business name. You will want to check out your secretary of state's office website to review the business name database. There, you can find the names of established businesses in your area and can ensure that your own company's name is different, compelling, and complementary to the services you plan to render.
Next, you may need to register your business name and state whether your pet sitting company will be formed as a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or corporation. The main difference between registering your business as one of those three structures and sticking with a sole proprietorship is that legal structures separate the tax liability of the individual from the business, whereas a sole proprietorship offers no such separation. If your pet sitting company will have other employees outside of yourself, obtaining an EIN will likewise be a required step to stay in alignment with IRS expectations.
Professional pet sitters also need the protection provided by proper business insurance. This is especially true if you will be transporting pets in a vehicle owned by your company. As your new business will almost certainly require you to either enter clients' homes to keep their pets or have their pets enter your facilities to be supervised, pet sitting insurance offers you protection in the event of unfavorable or unexpected occurrences in your line of work.
One such example might be if you were conducting a pet sit in someone's home and you accidentally knocked over an expensive glass vase. Having pet sitting insurance would mitigate your risk of having to pay for that damage and instead transfer that cost to the insurance company. Pet sitter insurance also protects policyholders against much more serious occurrences, such as injury or even the death of a pet under your care.
An additional benefit of this type of insurance is that it can set your pet business apart from and above those that do not have insurance. For this reason, you will want to include your bonding and insurance status on your formal business cards alongside all of your company's other contact information.
Advertising Your New Pet Sitting Company
Even the most ingenious business ideas still need to be marketed correctly to succeed. There are several paths new pet sitting entrepreneurs can take to creating a successful pet business marketing plan. Here are a few ideas:
- Social media: Your company's YouTube channel can feature how-to videos like pet first aid or getting your pet ready for a big show. One of the great things about social media marketing is that it can very often help your company make money outside of your traditional client exchanges by connecting you with influencers and larger advertisers.
- Pet stores: Don't be afraid to promote your new business at local pet shops, animal shelters, breeders, and other places where pets can be adopted. Leave a business card everywhere you go and ask local pet-centered businesses if you can leave flyers or other promotional materials on their public cork boards or at their checkout counters.
- Word of mouth: Never underestimate the power of a referral. Build word-of-mouth advertisements on your business first by setting up a Google My Business account where clients can leave reviews of your services. Remember that the more customers hear your business's name, the more they will remember it when they need pet services. Consider offering a discount or special service to existing clients who pass along referrals to their family and friends.
Your new clients will want to look up your company on the web. You will need to build a company website that reflects your best features, customer reviews, pictures, and a user-friendly list of services for your users. There are a variety of online web-building tools that allow you to do this on your own if you feel comfortable. A few include Wix, HostGator, DreamHost, and WordPress.
If you would like your new business website to be designed by a professional, you can hire a freelance website designer on any number of online gig platforms. Some of the more popular include Freelancer, Upwork, Toptal, and 99designs.
Arguably, the most crucial aspect of advertising your new pet sitting company will be social media marketing. Let's say that you have founded a deluxe dog walking business that will also provide high-end grooming services. Your career as a dog walker can be brought to vibrant and entertaining life on social media platforms like Instagram, where you can post fun pictures of pet adventures or hair-dos that you have provided.
How to Run Your Pet Sitting Business Smoothly
To love animals is only the first step to running your pet sitting business successfully. One of the most vital decisions you will need to make as a pet sitting entrepreneur is whether your new company will be your full-time employment or if it will remain a side business. This can play a hefty role in how you choose to set up invoicing for your company.
On that same note, what kind of payment methods will your company accept? Getting set up for PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and other such instant transfer applications will likely be necessary for both full- and part-time ventures. Choosing a user-friendly and customizable accounting software program, like that available through Skynova, can remove the guesswork and tedious labor from managing your pet company's bookkeeping.
Further Pet Sitting Considerations
Keep in mind that pet sitting is a business that comes with heavy responsibilities that are unique to each client. Pets are, for most, extensions of the family. This means that interacting with the pets of your customers comes with the same kinds of care and consideration you would need if you were supervising a person's child.
Some clients may ask you to do a bit of house sitting alongside your traditional pet duties. You may keep irregular hours and fulfill other personal tasks for your clients, such as bringing in the mail or watering plants. All of this requires your pet sitting company to establish a reliable, meticulous reputation from the outset. Maintaining client trust will be of paramount importance to the success of your pet sitting business.
Start Your Pet Sitting Business With Help From the Best
Animal lovers who launch their own pet sitting business can enjoy a long, fruitful career doing something that truly fulfills their interests. The pet industry offers many different opportunities for pet enthusiasts to make money and enjoy being around their furry friends.
For the parts that require complicated or time-consuming paperwork, though, there is always Skynova. Skynova's accounting software can help you run a successful pet sitting business without the headache of organizing receipts and other financial matters on your own. Check out Skynova today to see how our software products can help you get your new pet sitting company up and running.