People can find fun and happiness doing weirdest things there is so long as it is something they are passionate about. Dog walking business is one of the wierdest things I would ever want to do but, interestingly, it is someone’s job and they are passionately and happily doing it. In this article, I’m going to walk you through how to start a dog walking business.
So, if you have been looking to make some extra bucks, probably walking dogs, this guide will explain how to start a dog walking business, from licensing and insurance to financing options.
Let’s get started!
How do I start a dog business?
No two entrepreneurs are alike. Kourtney started pet sitting as a side hustle but realized it could be much more and founded Petty Walk in May 2017.
Whatever your motivation for starting a dog walking business, these eight steps will help it succeed.
1. Choose a business name
Firstly: After deciding to start a dog walking business, you need a name. That name should be playful and catchy to attract potential clients.
Kourtney chose Petty Walk for many reasons. It was catchy, flexible enough to add future services, and descriptive of the business she was trying to build.
”I really wanted to make sure it was an all-inclusive space,” Kourtney says. “Our name says it all.”
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2. Set up your business
Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to set up shop. Kourtney decided to form an LLC after reading articles and consulting her accountant.
There is no right or wrong way to structure your business. If this is your first venture, take Kourtney’s advice and consult with a trusted advisor.
Choosing the right business structure can make or break your company’s growth. Learn about different small business structures and which one is best for you.
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3. Know your market
Before starting a business, research your market. Do a quick Google search to learn about your competitors, potential clients, and working areas.
Consider using Rover.com, the nation’s largest network of dog walkers, to find local dog walking services. Visit local dog parks and talk to dog owners to learn their problems and how to solve them. Consider talking to local pet groomers and pet store employees.
Use all of these methods to learn about the market you want to enter.
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4. Charge appropriately
After researching the market, you should have a good idea of your competitors’ prices. Use that data to price your services.
Kourtney’s prices reflect her business practices. Unlike most pet care companies, Petty Walk is flexible and willing to work around clients’ schedules. The pricing of her various packages reflects the differences in these approaches.
To get started, Kourtney advises determining your business model and pricing your services accordingly.
5. Sell yourself
To succeed, you must attract customers. Create a website to promote yourself, list your business in online directories, and use the social media platforms that best suit your needs.
Kourtney adores Instagram. She suggests searching hashtags (e.g., #newyorkdogs, if you live in New York), following people who have pet pages set up, and otherwise building a trusting online community.
In any case, nothing beats word-of-mouth. Kourtney strives to delight customers so they will recommend her business.
Another tip: Don’t forget about traditional advertising.
For example, you could buy a magnetic car sign with your company name and logo on it. Large magnets on both sides of your car will turn you into a moving billboard. Post flyers on community bulletin boards (e.g., at the grocery store, coffeeshop, and library).
6. Get dog walking insurance.
Walking a dog isn’t always fun. Accidents happen, and dogs can injure themselves or others.
Kourtney says you should insure yourself and your business for these reasons. While you’re at it, consider disability and life insurance for added security.
“One thing if you’re the only employee,” Kourtney says. “If you have others, make sure they are covered by a pet insurance policy. The extra charge is worth it.”
If you can’t afford insurance, apply for a Fundbox line of credit. If approved, you’ll get a revolving credit line you can use as needed.
7. Expect challenges
Any new business will face challenges sooner or later. Successful entrepreneurs know this and are able to pivot quickly.
Katie faced significant business challenges when COVID-19 hit in 2020. Demand for dog-walking services fell as more people worked from home.
“We were zero percent for three months,”Kourtney says.
Despite the odds, neither entrepreneur gave up. Katie’s love of animals and gratitude for her job got her through the tough times.
8. Payday Approaches
After figuring out the above, it’s time to figure out your invoicing strategy.
Kourtney bills her clients and collects payment every week to improve cash flow. So she knows every customer is paid and ready to go.
Kourtney says that clients occasionally fail to pay. “I’ll still go walk their dog. They owe two weeks pay next time.”
Starting a dog walking business: FAQs
Knowing what it takes to build a successful dog walking business, let’s look at some of the most common questions people ask when deciding if this is the right career path for them.
Why do dog walkers charge so much?
Starting a small business is difficult. It’s a lot of work and responsibility.
But if you want to start a dog walking business and are a dog lover, you won’t find a better option.
How much can a dog walker earn?
Depends. According to Glassdoor, the average US dog walker earns just under $28,000 per year. However, it is not unheard of for people to earn up to $150,000 annually walking dogs. It all depends on your location, clientele, work ethic, and desire to grow your business and hire employees.
What training is required to walk dogs?
Unlike other jobs, being a dog walker requires no formal education. The only real requirement for this job is that you must adore dogs.
However, if you want to start your own dog walking business, a degree in business administration or marketing won’t hurt. You should also get formal training in animal first aid so you know what to do in an emergency.
How profitable is dog walking?
IBISWorld forecasts $1.1 billion in revenue for dog walking services in the US in 2022. Simply put, a well-run dog walking business can be quite profitable.
While you may need to invest in pet walking insurance and a pet first aid course, the majority of your startup costs will be the same as any other business. For example, you’ll need to pay for a business license, a website, and an LLC.
Do dog walkers need insurance?
Depending on where you live, you may not be legally required to obtain insurance for your dog walking business, but it is prudent to do so. What if a dog got hurt while out walking? What if one of your dogs bites someone or destroys property? Without insurance, your company may fail.
Anything that can go wrong will, according to Murphy’s law. Getting dog walking insurance protects you from uncontrollable events.
Want more dog walking customers?
If you want to get more dog walking clients, ask your friends and family if they need your services. You can also create a referral program that rewards customers for referring friends (e.g., 10 percent off their bill for six months). Aside from social media, traditional marketing (e.g., flyers on a bulletin board) can also help.
Starting a dog walking business requires some planning and preparation. But when starting your own business, you need to make sure it’s legally set up and that you’re protected in case of an accident. Taking care of animals also requires consideration.
Fortunately, if you cover all of the bases when starting a dog walking business–from licensing and insurance to financing–you’ll be well on your way to making money.
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