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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Move Your Pet Sitting Business Forward

Are you having difficulty moving your business to the next level of success and can’t figure out why? If so, I may have the answer for you.

I recently spoke to a pet sitting business owner who has been in business for 17 years, but has never been able to break the 6-figure mark. She said, “Colleen, I am lost completely on why I can’t get ahead with my business.” I then asked her what she has tried to do differently to move her business forward. She didn’t have an answer. She has been running her business the exact same way for 17 years. 17 years! She still has the same website. She has never hired anyone. She has never implemented any marketing strategies. So I asked her, “why?” Her answer was, “I’m comfortable with the way things are managed and nobody can handle my clients as I can.”

So, as you can see, she answered her own question. She has plateaued in her business because she is stuck in her comfort zone.

You see, magical things start to happen when you get out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is not a good place to be in your business because it means you’re not moving forward. You should feel uncomfortable. You should do the things that scare you.

Magical things start to happen when you get out of your comfort zone. Click To Tweet

If you’re identifying with this, don’t be too hard on yourself. We ALL like to be in our comfort zone, but here is something that a wise person once told me. She said, “Successful entrepreneurs are those people that are willing to do what others are not.” Meaning, get out of your comfort zone and start doing what’s needed to move your business forward.

Your Homework Assignment: Identify your comfort zone. What are you NOT doing to move your business forward? Write them down.

You can do this! I believe in you!

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How to Turn Mistakes Into Success

Every mistake you make is a chance to make your pet sitting business even better and an opportunity to learn on your path to success.

Some of the most famous entrepreneurs and inventors made mistakes and failed countless times before reaching success.

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times while trying to create the light bulb. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for having “no good ideas or imagination.” Oprah Winfrey was fired from a Baltimore news station. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times before getting in. Tim Ferris, the writer of “The 4-Hour Work Week” ( a must read, btw), was turned down by 25 publishers before finally being picked up. Henry Ford had two failed automotive companies before making it big with Ford Motors.

My point in all of this is that you have to come to terms with the fact that you will most definitely make mistakes in your business. It’s going to happen. The key is that you pick yourself up, evaluate what went wrong, learn from the mistake and then create a system, so you don’t make the same mistake again.

Every mistake you make is a chance to make your pet sitting business even better. Click To Tweet

I made so many mistakes, especially in the early years of my business and there was a time that I let them almost take me out of the game. I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit. I wanted to take the easy way out. Thank goodness I didn’t! When I look at where I am today and think about how I almost gave up, it chills me to the core.

So again, here is my lesson for dealing with mistakes:

1. Acknowledge the mistake.
2. Evaluate the mistake.
3. Come up with a solution.
4. Create a system.
5. Don’t make the same mistake again.

It’s important to realize when you’ve made a mistake. Don’t turn a blind eye to a situation because the problem will only compound itself. For example,

• Hiring an inexperienced or dishonest pet sitter

• Hiring an unqualified administrative employee

• Signing on a non-ideal client

• Not keeping up with your finances

• Not paying your taxes

• Bringing on too many new clients without enough qualified sitters to absorb the work

Your Homework Assignment: Contemplate what mistakes you have continuously made in your pet sitting business and come up with a solution to the error and a system so that you don’t make that mistake again in the future.

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Take a No Excuses Approach

We are all guilty of making excuses for ourselves, so we don’t take action and start moving forward toward our goals. Some of us know we’re doing it and some of us don’t even realize it. I want you to start listening closely to what you’re telling yourself and if you do make an excuse to not take action… take action anyway!

Here’s a crash course about EGO…
Your ego likes consistency. Your ego wants you to stay in the same place. Your ego doesn’t like change. When you make an excuse for yourself to not move forward, your ego takes a “big sigh of relief.”

If you become aware of yourself making excuses to not take action in your business (and in your life,) you can start waging war against your own ego by taking action anyway.

Your Homework Assignment:

  1. Be honest with yourself and list all the excuses you tell yourself to not take action to move your business forward.
  2. The next time you tell yourself an excuse, recognize it and take action anyway.

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When To Hire Your First Pet Sitter

Deciding when to hire your first pet sitter is a tough decision. Making that transition is not easy, so don’t feel badly if you’re struggling with it.

First, you need to get crystal clear on the role you want to play in your business and where you want to take your business. If you love every moment of the pet sitting and have no interest in scaling your business, then keep on doing what you’re doing! I will say though, that for people in your situation, it’s still a good idea to have an emergency backup or someone to take some weekend visits off your plate because nobody can go full steam ahead 365 days per year or you will burn out. That I can promise you!

Next, if after you become clear on your purpose and mission and you decide to bring on help, this is how I suggest you do it:

  1. The quickest path to cash is working with clients directly, so first work on filling your schedule to capacity. At that time, you’ll want to make your first hire.
  2. Give half of your customer list to your new pet sitter.
  3. With the free time you have now created by making the new hire, work on bringing in more new business, which you will pass onto Sitter #1.
  4. BEFORE Sitter #1’s schedule is filled to capacity, hire sitter #2.
  5. Give the second half of your customer list to Sitter #2 and any new business that comes in.
  6. BEFORE Sitter #2’s schedule is filled to capacity, hire sitter #3.

As your business grows, continue following this pattern. Remember to always hire proactively and always be ready for a sitter to give their notice at anytime. If for whatever reason you get caught without the help you need, you can fill-in as the emergency backup until a suitable sitter is hired.

If you do have the goal to grow your pet sitting business, try and avoid the cycle of filling your schedule to capacity, then stopping your marketing because you don’t have time because you’re doing all the visits. Then, as your customers start to dwindle, you go into panic mode and start marketing to get new business. This is a vicious cycle that many small business owners experience. Always market and you will always have clients. Click To Tweet

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4 Ways To Avoid Pet Sitting Burnout

As a pet sitter, you are usually burning the candle at both ends. Most likely, you’re still working IN your business, doing the pet sitting visits, midday dog walks, house sitting assignments as well as answering the phones, responding to emails, running collections, paying the bills and dealing with disputes. Not only does this give you any time at all to actually work on scaling your business, it is a recipe for complete and total burnout. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been there. In 2005 I had to make the decision to grow the business or jump ship for good because I just couldn’t take the lifestyle any longer. I chose growth, which was the best decision I have ever made, but I had to change the way I was doing things or I was going to go bonkers.

So, to avoid “pet sitting burnout,” I have some suggestions for you.

#1. Set clear boundaries

Our businesses can rule our lives… if we let it! I’m here to tell you… don’t let it! You need to set clear boundaries with your clients and staff. You must draw a line in the sand and have an end to your business day. Stop answering emails and phone calls at 10 o’clock at night. When you do this, you are setting an expectation with your clients and staff that you are available all hours and they will not think twice about trying to contact you whenever they feel like it. Worse yet, some people may actually become irritated if you don’t respond to them right away, because they are trained to believe that you are at their beck and call.

  • Record a voicemail message that clearly states your office hours and explains when callers can expect a phone call back from you.
    • “Our office hours are 9am-4pm Monday through Friday. Phone calls will be returned during our regular office hours.”
  • Create an auto-responder for your email stating the same thing. This way, when someone emails you at 10pm, they know that they will not hear back from you until the following day.
    • TIP: Set a reminder to turn-off the auto-responder the every morning. Nothing is more annoying or unprofessional than auto-responder that isn’t relevant.
  • In your New Client Welcome Packet clearly state your office hours and when and how scheduling occurs. This will manage their expectations right from Jump Street.

#2. Create a business development day

If you are serious about growing your business, but you are still performing a full schedule of pet sitting visits and dog walks, then you are most likely jamming your business development work into your evenings. This is going to cause serious burnout quickly. My suggestion for you is to bring someone on to do all your visits on Mondays (or any day you prefer) and then devote that day to nothing else but business development.

#3. Understand that your inbox will never be empty

I speak from experience on this one. I think I have a touch of OCD, so when I was running Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line, I would jump on any email the second I heard the ding because I always wanted my inbox to be empty. It wasn’t until I grasped the concept that my To-Do List would never be done that I had actual FREEDOM. Let yourself off the hook and stop trying to keep that inbox empty because it is a losing battle.

#4. Make time to rejuvenate

I’ve been in business since 2001 and I still have to remind myself about this. I literally just said to my husband last night, “Billy, I need to take a break.” I have been going, going, going, non-stop for the past 6-months and I’m starting to feel it and I am also seeing it in my productivity.

Take time for yourself and love yourself, because as my Nana used to say, 

“You need to take care of you, because nobody else will.” Click To Tweet

 I just watched a great video created by Jeff Walker regarding the connection between rejuvenation and productivity. If you have the time, it’s worth the watch.

Your Homework Assignment:

  1. Re-record your business voicemail to include your office hours and explanation of when callers can expect to hear back from you.
  2. Create an email auto-responder that will alert your peeps about your office hours and when they can expect to hear back from you.
  3. In your new client welcome material, add your office hours and scheduling process.
  4. Take a vacation! I am granting you permission. 😉

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When Things Go Wrong: Payroll

I thought today I would get a little personal and pull back the curtain of my business, Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line.

I feel like the advice I learn from the most, is that which comes from real life, actual experiences of others who have been through it. Well, I’ve had quite a difficult week, so I thought I would share my experience and what I have learned from it.

The Problem: My payroll company not paying my staff…. AGAIN!

The writing was on the wall for quite some time in regards to this issue. The owner of our payroll company was a college friend and football teammate of my husband. We have had a fabulous business relationship with him for 7+ years, when out of nowhere things started to happen like, delays in payroll deposits, calls and emails not being returned and… the unemployment office calling him and telling them that they were going to audit me, for which he did not tell me about. (Yup! That actually happened.) I could go on with an endless laundry list, but I think you get the picture.

So anyhow, this past week, my staff of 35 wonderful pet sitters did not receive their deposits, yet again. It took me a full week of going back and forth with him to get them all paid. I had sitters threaten to quit. My poor assistant had to field countless inquiries about the deposits all week long, while trying to keep everyone calm and still keep on top of her regular duties.

The Aftermath:

Our relationship with him is now broken and my credibility with my staff is tainted. AWESOME! 😉

First Lesson Learned: Fire quickly!

I have written about this before in regards to our team of sitters, but it holds true with other professionals on our teams.

I knew in my gut that this relationship had gone sour over a year ago, but I chose not to listen to my intuition and so, I had to pay the price.

Second Lesson Learned: For the love… Listen to my gut!

 “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein

I whole-heartedly believe that we as humans have been given the special gift of intuition. I know that my intuitive mind screams at me in a high-pitch blare and yet, I still choose to ignore it time and time again. I think in my personal situation, it’s mostly due to fear of hurting anyone’s feelings. I struggle with this, for sure! As a business owner though, I most definitely need to stop my incessant “people-pleasing” and make the tough decisions that are necessary for the health of my business. No more Mrs. Nice Girl!

The Solution:

I hired a new payroll company and wrote a heartfelt apology letter to my staff. Though I don’t think the apology letter will mend what has been broken immediately, they at least know how sorry I am and that I have now done everything in my power, so that they don’t have to experience a delay with their hard earned pay again.

Your Homework Assignment: If you struggle with listening to your intuitive mind, here are some great articles to read…

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