Like launching any type of business, learning how to start a dog walking business takes a lot of planning, organization and commitment. Here are the basics for you!
So lets’ get started! How to Start a Dog Walking Business: 10 Easy Steps to Get Your Business Launched and Ready to Go!
#1. Get Clear on Your Vision
- Do you want to start a pet sitting service? This would mean providing multiple visits per day for customers who need pet service while they are traveling or unable to be home with their pet.
- Do you want to start a dog walking business? This would mean providing mid-day dog walks for customers who work long hours.
- Do you want to open a dog walking business and a pet sitting business?
- Do you want to provide house sitting services?
- Do you want to offer pet boarding or open a dog day care?
- Which other dog services or cat services will you provide?
- Will you offer pet transportation?
- Will you offer pet grooming such as nail trimming or dog baths?
- Do you want to sell pet grooming products or pet grooming supplies?
- Do you want to be a small dog walking business or a large dog walking business?
- Do you want to do the actual pet sitting and dog walking or do you want to outsource those duties and focus on managing the business?
- Do you want to hire employees or use independent contractors?This is a topic for another article, but let me VERY clear, you must put a lot of thought into this decision and set your business up correctly.
- Will you invest in professional pet sitting software or will you use a manual system (something which I highly advise against.)
- Will you join the associations? Pet Sitters International and/or National Association of Professional Pet Sitters?
- Will you protect yourself with pet sitter insurance?
- Will you be a sole proprietorship, an LLC or a Corporation? Pet Nanny started as a sole proprietorship, but we later became an LLC. This is a decision that you would want to discuss with your attorney and accountant.
There are so many things to consider when deciding on how to start your own dog walking business. It’s important to be clear on the type of business you want and to set yourself up for success from the very start!
#2. Take Action!
This seems so simple, but you would be surprised how many people I have spoken with over the years who have had fabulous ideas for starting their own businesses and then did absolutely nothing. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. My business coach calls it “a full contact sport.” You must have self-discipline, the ability to take action and the persistence to see an idea through to the end. Without action, you will not see results or achieve your goals. So if you decide that you want to start a dog walking business, then sit down and map it out! Remember as Martin Luther King said…
#3. Choose a Smart Name for Your Dog Walking Business
- First make sure that there is no other dog walking business in your service area that is using your name idea.
- Do a trademark search on the name United States Patent and Trademark Website.
- Search domain names on www.godaddy.com to see if it’s available. You want a URL that’s easy for others to remember. If the URL is available buy it immediately!!!! Always go with the .com.
- Register you fictitious name or “Doing Business As” DBA Name. A fictitious name is different from your personal name. So for example, I’m Colleen Sedgwick “doing business as” Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of the Main Line.
→ Choose a name that actually conveys what you do.
→ Don’t involve a committee when making the final decision. Too may cooks in the kitchen will result in nothing but a vanilla type name. Only include key players and make sure that those people represent a variety of types.
→ Choose a name that is memorable and easy to spell.
#4. Write a Tagline:
A tagline is a short, memorable phrase that associated with your service. Try to keep it short and memorable and have it reflect your personality and promise to your customers.
Note: Don’t let my tagline confuse you, “Pet Sitters of The Main Line.” I had to choose this one because when I started my business, I made the stupid mistake of not doing #3 above. After I had realized that there were about 1 million other “Pet Nanny’s” out there, I decided to add “Pet Sitters of The Main Line” to differentiate myself from all of the others. The Main Line is my service area so this way my prospects would know where I covered.
#5. Have a Professional Logo Designed
- If starting a dog walking business is calling to you, you need to appear professional. Have a professional logo designed that will stand the test of time.
- You can find designers at fabulous rates on www.upwork.com, www.outsourcely.com, www.guru.com and www.fiverr.com. See below for some $5 logos that I’ve had designed. Pretty good, right?
#6. Have Professional Business Cards Printed
- You will need business cards for your customers as well as to give to referral partners and to promote your business.
- www.vistaprint.com is a great site where you can design and have your business cards printed.
- Remember to use a professional logo and include a call to action or an incentive on the back of your card
#7. Have a Professional Website Designed in WordPress
- I really can’t stress this one enough. Your clients are going to find you online. That’s a fact! You need a client attractive website that draws in your ideal clients and then converts them into paying customers.
- No, a Facebook page alone is not going to cut it!
- WordPress is great for search engine optimization, and it also gives you the ability to make updates to your site without having to rely on someone else.
- Again, you can find designers who will design a professional site for you on www.upwork.com or www.guru.com.
- In my opinion, a website is the best marketing dollars that you can spend on your business.
Pet Sitters International (PSI) and The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) are the two big pet sitting associations. They both provide great member benefits, but most important is that you will be listed on their Pet Sitter Finders. Many client prospects will first go to their sites and then type in their zip code to find pet sitters in their area. While you are building your website ranking, this is going to be a great way to have clients find you.
#9. Register Your Business on Google Places, Yelp, and Bing
Have you met Siri? Siri is a voice recognition app. She’ll write your emails, check the weather and update your calendar. She’ll also locate businesses and services for your potential customers. Siri will forever change the way traditional web searches happen. When someone asks Siri to “find a local pet sitter,” the answer will be based on your current location, not on whether you are at the top of Google. You need to optimize your listings on Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo.
- Google: www.google.com/placesforbusiness
- Yahoo: www.listings.local.yahoo.com
- Yelp: www.biz.yelp.com
- Bing: https://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-ur
#10. Get Pet Sitter Insurance!!!
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a liability insurance policy. The rates are extremely reasonable and it is absolutely worth the peace of mind that you will receive. You never know what could happen, and it’s best to be prepared. If you join PSI or NAPPS, they offer member discounts. Woohoo! I use Business Insurers of The Carolinas, and I have used them from the start, but there are many different companies to choose from. You can also try Pet Sitter Associates, LLC.
Advice from the Experts:
Bella Vasta, Mike Linville, and Joshua Carey are pet industry experts and were kind enough to share their words of wisdom to those getting ready to launch their own pet sitting business. These experts are smart cookies, my friends, so listen and learn from them! They know what they’re talking about.
Bella Vasta Founder &
Owner of Jump Consulting says,
“My best advice would be KNOW YOUR NUMBERS! I cap locked that for a reason. Without it, your ship will sink. Running a business has a lot of factors. None of which are floatable unless you’re generating enough revenue to fund your business & personal goals. Often times new pet sitters look around to see what others are charging and then try to DYI all their operations. This will never be a sustainable plan. It is important to dig deep to discover your own goals and then create your business pricing strategy to support that.”
My best advice for new biz owners is to KNOW YOUR #'s! #JumpConsulting Click To Tweet
Mike Linville | Founder &
Owner of Black Dog Marketing says,
“Be proactive in your business growth. Don’t sit around and wait for referrals, get out the there and ACTIVELY market your business. Create lead generation funnels and don’t be afraid to pay for traffic. If you do, this you will beat 99% of your competition that doesn’t have the courage to do so.”
My best advice for new biz owners is to be proactive and actively market your biz. #BlackDogMarketing Click To Tweet
Joshua Cary | Founder &
Owner of PetSittingOlogy says,
“”Your best calling card today is not made of paper. It’s made of digital assets. Make sure to set aside time or resources from the start to create an effective website that perfectly represents you and your business.”
My best advice for new biz owners is to create an effective website that perfectly represents you and your business. #PetSittingOlogy Click To Tweet
YOUR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Get started! These are the 10 basic steps to get you moving on starting a dog walking business. I’ll teach you the rest later. Now go! I believe in you.
Hey there, Newbie Pet Sitter! Are you feeling stuck or overwhelmed with starting your pet sitting business? Fret no longer, my friend. I’ve got ya covered!