It's dirty work, but someone's got to doo it, and if that someone is you, there's the potential to really clean up--both literally and figuratively.

Pet-waste removal is one of the hottest homebased pet businesses around today. The investment is minimal--just the cost of a vehicle, a few cleanup tools (usually a rake and a dustpan), a closed-waste disposal system (for carting away in your vehicle), some advertising and really good vision--but the returns can be great. Scooper services commonly charge as little as $25 a month to clean up after one to three dogs and up to $125 a month for twice-weekly services. Biweekly plans are also quite common in the industry and may cost $40 to $50 per month. Thus, an entrepreneur who has 100 biweekly customers at $50 each would gross $5,000 a month or $60,000 annually.

Spring and fall are the busiest months for pet-waste removal. In northern states, the optimal time to do business is April through November, when the ground isn't frozen or covered with snow that can impact your ability to locate waste. Although it's possible to soldier on during those months, many service suspend operation, then charge a spring cleanup fee (perhaps $85 to $100) to get the grounds back in shape for regular waste-removal services. A first cleanup for new customers will also fall into this price range.

For more information on starting your own pet-sitting/dog-walking business, plus four other pet businesses, check out our guide on SmallBizBooks.com.