As an ancient Chinese philosopher once said ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’.
Recently there has been a boom in those interested in earning a secondary income, considering a career change or taking the plunge and starting up alone. One of the most popular start ups in recent years in the UK is those in the pet business sector offering services such as dog walking and pet sitting. These small businesses can be easy to set up with little to no initial capital needed and be truly rewarding particularly for those with a love of our four legged friends. These may seem like hobbies but the continual rise in pet ownership and trend for longer working hours meaning owners are unable to stay at home to look after them means this is becoming a lucrative business opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Pet owners are busy people often working 9-5 jobs with a commute either side and therefore there is limited time to walk their pooches. Therefore, it is essential for them to employ someone they trust to do this for them. With the average price charged by dog walkers per hour per dog at £10, and no need for start up capital and few overheads, this can quickly become a profitable venture. Here are our top tips for those considering starting their own dog walking business.
Build Your Customer Base. Start off dog walking for family, friends and neighbours – When you’ve established a name for yourself, think about producing some business cards and flyers, and placing an ad in the yellow pages. Having a website you can direct people too is also a great asset as more and more people live ‘online’. Business cards will promote your services, and can be put up in pet shops and vets – also be sure to have some cards on you at all times to hand out on your dog walks in case people ask.
Get Certified. Once dog walking is no longer a hobby but a business, official licensure or certification matters, though it is not essential. A certificate will legitimise your business, and demonstrate that you are trustworthy, reliable and serious about what you do.
Get Insured. When a dog-walking hobby becomes a professional business, you take on responsibility for more than just yourself and your own dog. Customers will entrust their beloved pet to your care, so it is important that you are protected with comprehensive dog walking insurance from unforeseen problems that may occur.
Commit to a realistic schedule.You may be trading in your job for your hobby but consider your other commitments – a family, your own pet? Don’t spread yourself too thin – your customers (both human and canine) will appreciate you being able to stick to a reliable schedule!
Joining an agency is highly recommended and websites like DogWalker.com could give you valuable exposure during the beginning stages of setting up your dog walking business. You’ll become part of the dog walking network and expand your client reach.
Business is business. Be wary that you may have left your desk job to dog walk, but as a professional dog-walker you will still have to manage the finances, accounts and paperwork inherent to any business.
Know your local area! Some parks and towns have certain rules when it comes to dogs; some cities require dog-walkers to be insured. Make life easy for yourself and know your walking routes, the dog parks, and any ‘risky’ zones.
About the Author: Protectivity Insurance is a leading niche small business insurance provider specialising in pet business including dog walking insurance.