If you have ever tried to start your own business, no matter what field it is in, than you know trying to figure out where to start can be a little scary. With the right planning and direction though, it is possible to map out a successful career in pet sitting for yourself.
First things first is you have to have a passion for what you are doing. This is with any business because it will take a lot of frustrating hours of work before you see any benefits reaped. Your love for the animal(s) of your choice will, at some point, probably be the only thing keeping you from throwing in the towel. It is important, however, to remember how much you care about said pets and giving them the best life possible.
Secondly, you will have to get prepared. I would start by gathering the essentials you will need start your business. There are a couple questions you will have to ask yourself first. For example, are you going to be running this business out of your own place, or will you be providing your service at the client’s house? If you are running your own establishment, you will need to make sure your house is completely pet friendly. This will involve some research on your part, depending on which pets you plan to watch. Next you will need to start buying the supplies you will need to keep your new business up and running. This could include but is not limited to: leashes, toys, treats, waste bags, cleaning supplies, pet shampoo, extra collars, food and water dispensers, and much more. Again, more research will be necessary to be fully prepared. Do not worry too much about getting everything though, some things you will have to learn as you go.
Once you feel as if you are ready to start taking on clients, you are going to need to get the word out somehow. If you are blessed with great friends and family like me, this is where you should start. Your friends and family are likely to be the only people who will trust you with their pets in the beginning and care enough to begin spreading the word for you. Do not stop there though! Get out into the community and spread it yourself! Yes, we are currently live in a new age where social media is supreme, but nothing beats face to face contact. Make an effort to get out and go to the local pet stores. Hand out flyers yourself, or anything else you can think of to make yourself noticeable, within reason of course. As soon as you get one or two dogs to watch, take them out walking and get seen! Whatever way you can think of getting the word out, do it! People won’t know to come looking for you, you have to go reach them. And yes, blow up social media too. Not just in your own feed, but join pet groups on Facebook and share your information there. Maybe even purchase an ad on Instagram or wherever you think your core target market is at.
Once you begin to take on some clients you will soon realize how prepared you actually are. The time to make adjustments is in this early period, before your workload becomes too much. At this point, you should take into account what you are lacking as a sitter and what can you improve on. You can even ask your early clients, “Hey, I am just starting out and wondering if there is anything I can do or change to make this service better for you.” Not only will you gain some valuable feedback, but you will be sending the message to the owners that you genuinely care about being the best sitter you can be for their dogs. This will go along way in improving your rep, gaining loyalty and returning customers.
Also, in this adjustment period you can figure out the logistics of the operation you are trying to run. How many pets can I watch at once? At x number of pets I watch a week, how much money do I need to charge per pet to make a comfortable profit? These are the things you need to figure out early on in the adjustment period so that you are not sidetracked with them later when you should be focusing on improving your service. If you are doing this full time, I suggest seeking out the help of a professional. If this is just a small scale business built on a hobby you are passionate about, or just something to earn a little extra money on the side, it may not be worth your while to go out and hire a financial advisor. You will probably be okay just determining numbers on your own since you are not risking that much if it doesn’t pan out.
Circling back around, because I truly believe this is the most important key, you genuinely have to enjoy what you do. Just like humans, dogs have personalities. Some are naturally stubborn and more difficult than others. There are days when even I do not want to be bothered with walking a dog, let alone five of them at once. But just remember, if you can improve the quality of life for these dogs than it is worth it to you at the end of the day.