11 steps to starting your own pet care business – Care. com


Pet care is a billion-dollar industry, but tapping into it is easier said than done.

Making the transition from pet lover to pet care pro means figuring out the licences, certifications, start-up costs, and payroll considerations. A little soul searching is also required.

Turning your love of animals from a hobby into a business involves a lot of work and can be very physically demanding. But you’re not alone.

Starting your own pet care business can be daunting, but it can also be very rewarding. Follow these 11 steps and you’ll be on your way to a new career.

1 . Decide what you want to be

When it comes to spatial needs and certifications, there’s a big difference between being a dog walker and running a multi-animal boarding business. Once you’ve settled on the what, you can start thinking about the where, why, and how.

2 . Develop a business plan

What will you call the business? How big do you want to be? Do you plan on hiring employees? What about marketing the business? As you develop your business plan, think about who can be your mentors and what resources are available to you. Be sure to look  at the local and provincial requirements for running your own pet treatment business. Start with resources like the Canada Small Business Financing Program and your provincial employment service, such as WorkBC or Employment Ontario .

3. Find a location

Whether you’re planning to board, groom, or train animals, you’ll need to find a space that fits your needs. Tour similar businesses to get an idea about your spatial requirements. Then, once you find a space you think will work, be sure to check with city hall about zoning regulations and any relevant permitting or use restrictions.

4. Get a  lay of the land

In addition to making sure the location meets your physical needs, scout the location from a tactical perspective. Gather information about demographics, where your competition operates, and where you’re going to draw your customers through. Make sure you have a customer base big enough to sustain your business. For example , if you’re starting a dog walking or grooming business, make sure it’s located near plenty of pet-friendly housing. Identifying the customer base and competition around your location will help inform your business and marketing plans.

5. Take a step back 

Ask yourself: What does starting this business mean for me and my family? Will this be a full-time or a part-time business? Remember, owning plus operating a business can be like a job on top of a job, so make sure to discuss your programs with your loved ones.

6. Figure out financing

Do you need to negotiate a lease and build out a vacant space? What about insurance plus licensing costs? As you calculate how much start-up capital you’ll need, begin to figure out how you will raise it. Determine how much of the cost you can put up, and then look at other financing options, such as small business loans. If you already have a good relationship with your current bank, it makes sense to start there.

7. Square away your certifications

Not all pet care businesses require certifications, but most have some level of education or training.   Consult your provincial employment service, such as WorkBC or Employment Ontario , to learn about required certifications or permits, and how to obtain them. Beyond sharpening your skills, obtaining and playing up relevant certifications can be a great marketing tool.

8. Outline your own policies

Think about your hours and your workflow. Make sure your pricing is competitive, but sustainable. Decide how you’ll handle client payments, and spell out liability and requirements in contracts. Plan how to notify clients about your time off and how to handle replacement care.

One important aspect that many first-time business owners might overlook is making emergency plus contingency plans. It’s a good idea to obtain veterinarian contact info, a vet release form, and pet guardianship paperwork from clients.

9. Get your business licence and inspections

Requirements, fees, and inspections will vary depending on your city, town or province. In Calgary , for example , there’s a $277 fee to obtain an one-year licence for a kennel service or pet dealer business. And the city’s agencies may perform onsite inspections.    

10. Don’t forget about taxes 

Use the Canada Revenue Agency’s free tax help service with regard to small business owners to sort out your tax obligations as a self-employed individual or small business owner and your responsibilities in terms of payroll deductions and remittances plus provincial and federal needs.

11. Start “selling” yourself

Establish your own web presence before you’re open for business. Start with a website spelling out your business offerings, location, hours, rates, and your bio. Use social media and community marketplaces, such as Care. com , to promote your services plus engage clients. Think about what you can offer that other nearby companies can’t. It’s important to figure out what differentiates you from your competitors.

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