Have you always dreamed of starting your own business, but were stumped for ideas? The perfect solution may be to start your own pet-based business. If pets are your passion, starting a business that involves them makes perfect sense. Plus, the U.S. pet industry is also booming right now. In fact, Pet Food Industry reports that pet-based retail sales have increased by over 31% in 2021 alone. Ready to get started? Glad Dogs Nation shares essential tips for success.
Choose a Pet-Venture
When you work on something you love, the business process tends to be more enjoyable and go more smoothly. If you need inspiration, check out the backstory of Glad Dogs Nation - a pet toy company that provides safe, hand sewn toys for customers and as donations. Since your passion is pets, here are some options to consider:
- Pet sitting: This option is incredibly fun because you get to be with pets all day. Plus, it’s a low-cost idea with very low overhead depending on whether you rent a facility or pet sit in your - or the owner’s - home. Specializing in a niche, like offering elder dog care or animal boarding, would be a great way to stand out.
- E-commerce pet products: Carving out a niche in the online retail sales space can be a great move. Just remember that there are several successful pet product companies, so find something to make yours unique. Once you find your specialization, you could consider dropshipping models to reduce operating costs and organizational efforts.
- Animal blogger: Do you have a knack for writing? If so, starting a blogging business using affiliate marketing and product endorsements can be a great way to go.
- Give back: It’s always a good idea to give back to community organizations when you start a business. Supporting a rescue or sanctuary organization will be a fantastic way to make a difference.
Marketing Your Business
No pet business is complete without a comprehensive marketing strategy. This plan is absolutely essential to establish your place in a highly competitive market, and to make the most of your financial investment. How can you go about making a successful marketing strategy? Take a look at some of our essential marketing basics below:
- Define your USP: Your Unique Selling Point (USP) will be critical to stand out and provide value in the market. This is what makes you stand out from the competition. In a sea of pet-focused businesses, what makes your business different? That’s your USP.
- Know your audience: You cannot effectively market without knowing who you’re trying to reach. Your audience will determine how you’ll be marketing, which social channels you’ll utilize, and which branding strategies will work best to convert your audience into buyers.
- Use SEO: Once you have your website established, you’ll want to work with an expert on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because, when done effectively, it will drive traffic to your website. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, effective SEO involves adding the right key terms and links from relevant sites to get people to move organically to your website. Hiring a professional might take some money, but it will be well worth it in the end.
- Utilize business cards: They may feel old school, but business cards are a great way to get your name out to people in face-to-face context. You’ll likely be networking, and it’s nice to have something tangible to hand to someone so that they both see and hear your business name, and are exposed to your logo.
Starting a legitimate business requires quite a few steps. Although it’s tempting to skip a few for the sake of time and money, don’t do it. It is best to have everything registered with the city and IRS, and covered by insurance, before you dive into your passion project. So, before you start, you will need to ensure you have the following elements established:
- Insurance: You need to be protected from damage to your client’s home or your property. There can be many incidental damages, such as pets knocking things over or packages lost in transit. Make sure you find a provider that offers favorable premiums and coverage amounts.
- Business license: You will likely need to register your business with the appropriate authorities. Check out this list by the Small Business Administration on specific state license requirements. Regardless of your state’s requirements, you will need to register with the IRS to get your EIN (Employer Identification Number). This number is required to get essentials like a bank account, and it takes time, so start right away.
- DBA: A ‘doing business as’ name will make it easier to branch out into new services if you decide to sell products under a different name down the line. It’s also helpful when you can’t find a domain name or if you want to market your services under a separate name.
- Bank account: set up a business-specific account so that these finances are separate from your personal finances. As mentioned above, you will need your EIN to establish this account, but once you have it, choose solid accounting software, too. There are plenty of free and inexpensive options online for start ups to keep your budget in line.
Pet care is a billion-dollar industry. But there’s more to it than playing with puppies - there will be several business needs and considerations to figure out. While this can be daunting, running a pet-based business (when you love pets) is also incredibly rewarding. Congratulations on your new venture!
Glad Dogs Nation and their foundation, Glad Dogs Foundation, are a great example of a pet company that found a niche based on passion. They work to provide homed and fostered pets with safe, unique toys at reasonable prices. Visit their website today to learn about their products and how you can support their efforts.