Most of us, at one time or another, have wanted to start our own
business. For pet lovers a pet business seems to be a natural way to go,
but is it really? There are things you need to consider, research, and
plan Dog Walker (Public Domain Image)Dog Walker (Public Domain Image)before you rush headlong into your dream business. Here are some
tips to help you decide if your idea is a really the right one.

Take time for research. Look at your community and the pet businesses already in existence. If there are a number of pet stores in the area another one may struggle to stay afloat. Is there only one doggie day care facility? Then that may be a good choice. Your local chamber of commerce could be an invaluable resource.

Do a "test drive" for the business you want to start. Get a job at a pet store or kennel, walk a group of dogs, or try photographing the pets of family and friends. Make sure that this is something you want to do, but something you can handle doing on a daily basis. Taking a photographic portrait of your own cat may be simple and enjoyable, but getting someone else's pet to sit still may test your patience beyond what you expect. Shoveling animal poop at a kennel or doggie day care tends to remove any illusions of glamour you may have been harboring.

PetSmart Pet Store (Photo by Anthony92931/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)PetSmart Pet Store (Photo by Anthony92931/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)Look for the holes in your idea. If you are a cat lover with little experience with dogs, a dog walking business is probably not for you.  If you hate rodents and are terrified of snakes, then a pet store may not be your best choice. If you can't handle cleaning a litter box, you might find pet sitting something you can't take sitting down. It you are allergic then pet grooming is definitely out. If you tend to view animals as little humans who just happen to have fur, any sort of pet business is going to challenge you more than you think.

Build on your existing experience. If you have been training Canine Companions for years then you might do very well in a dog training business. Your years of taking care of the pets of your friends and neighbors may be the perfect "in" for starting a full-blown pet sitting business complete with an initial client list and set of references. All those days of figuring out just the right recipes to create the perfect homemade dog treats is a natural avenue to a doggy bakery, whether store-front or virtual.

Start part time while you still have another income.  While this won't work for all types of pet businessesDog Portrait by Petcasso (Public Domainn Image)Dog Portrait by Petcasso (Public Domainn Image), it is a great way to start small and build. Pet sitting businesses often start this way. Doing pet portraits this way is a good idea while you build your portfolio and get your name out. Bake your dog treats on the side and sell them to friends and relatives, and at fairs on the weekends. 

Determine the financial viability of your idea. Dog walking services often offer additional services, such as feeding pets, bringing in mail, and running errands to make the business pay. Be prepared to be flexible in adapting your idea to the needs of your potential market.

Talk to others who have gone there before you. Find out what the business is really like from those who have travelled your path. They can clue you in to some of the hazards along the way, and some of the rewards that don't come in the form of money.

Find a niche. Your business needs a way to stand out from the other pet businesses. Offer organic pet foods at your store or on your site. Specialize in homemade or local products.  Help your clients connect with other unique pet products and services. Create some added benefit to draw customers to you.

Ask yourself the right questions and make sure you have the answers. What are your resources? Do you have the money to start the business or will you need to find funding? Do you have the physical stamina for the business? What is your risk tolerance?

Homemade Dog Treats (Photo by 1971markus/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)Homemade Dog Treats (Photo by 1971markus/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)Do your homework. Find out what kind of permits and licenses you may need to have. If you will be running the business out of your home, know what the laws in your area are governing home businesses. If you have a homeowners association check the covenants for the same information.  Familiarize yourself with local ordinances regarding animals and pets.

Make a business plan. This is sound advice for any business, even if you won't be taking it with you to ask for a start-up loan. It will help you lay out the idea in your mind as well as on paper. Creating a business plan lets you consolidate your idea, set out how you will do it, how it will work, and what you anticipate being the outcome

Review your expectations. Why are you doing this and what want to gain? Make sure that you have sustaining motivations to help get you through the difficult times. Money alone is not a sustaining motivation. Walking dogs because you enjoy being in their company can be a strong motivation. Drawing or painting pet portraits because your art makes you feel alive will keep you going.

Sources: Entrepreneur.com, About.com, Streetdirctory.com

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