10 Startups for Pet-Lovers
Can't get enough of our furry and feathered friends? Turn your animal passion into a biz with these options.
The array of product and service businesses for pet owners isonly limited by your imagination. Many people treat their pets liketheir children and, following that logic, most products that peoplewant for themselves, they'll want for their pets. Just look atrecent trends in the industry--organic foods, homeopathic products,luxury accessories--and you'll easily find they mirrorcounterparts for human folk.
But there are still traditional services and products for petsand their owners that will never go out of style. Here, we present10 evergreen pet businesses, excerpted from James Stephenson'sbooks 202Things You Can Make and Sell for Big Profits, 202Services You Can Sell for Big Profits, and Entrepreneur'sUltimate Start-Up Directory. With ideas like these,you'll be catering to your furry, finned and feathered friendsin no time.
Believe it or not, you can make a very comfortable living bystarting and operating a dog pooper-scooper service in yourcommunity. This is an easy business to start; it requires littleinvestment, no special skills, and minimal equipment to operate.Basically, if you can handle a shovel and plastic bags, and can putup with less than aromatic smells, you're qualified to run apooper-scooper service. If not, you can still cash in on thisbooming growth business by marketing and managing the service whilehiring others to do the dirty work. Spread the word about yourpooper-scooper service by advertising in local newspapers, pinningfliers to bulletin boards, and through dog-related businesses andclubs in the community. Most services charge a flat monthly rate ofbetween $30 and $60 to stop by customers' homes or businessesweekly to clean up their yards, which takes no more than 10 minutesper visit. You'll need reliable transportation, a cell phone,garbage buckets, plastic bags, shovels, gloves and a good pair ofrubber boots.
As an animal lover, I can't imagine a business that would bemore fun and rewarding than operating a pet photography service.Unfortunately, I'm not a very good photographer, but if you areand you love pets, then what are you waiting for? Start a petphotography service! Owners of dogs, cats, reptiles, horses,champion livestock, birds, and even fish can all be potentialcustomers. Full time or part time, operate the service on a mobilebasis, from a homebased studio, or from pet shops, or combine allto cover all the bases. Making the experience fun for pets andtheir owners will go a long way toward securing repeat business anda ton of referrals, so liven things up with pet costumes, themedbackdrops, and by offering pet videotaping services, complete withmusic, titles and special effects. Likewise, to boost profitpotential also offer a wide assortment of products that customerscan have their pets' photographic images transferred onto--keytags, greeting cards, calendars, mugs, hats, T-shirts, sports bagsand bumper stickers.
Dog Clothing and Accessories
Americans spend more than $30 billion annually on their pets, andbig bucks can be earned by designing, making and selling designerduds for dogs. Sweaters and rain jackets are sure bets to becometop sellers, but dog lovers around the globe are also buyingdesigner doggie hats, goggles, shirts, booties, scarves and evenHalloween costumes for their beloved furry friends. The criteriafor getting started are minimal--design skills, sewing skills andequipment, patterns, and a bit of gumption to get out and pitchyour fabulous designer fashions for mutts and pedigrees alike topet shop retailers, especially if your ambitions are to establishwholesale accounts with chain and independent pet shop retailers.If not, there are still many ways to sell direct to dog owners.These include exhibiting and selling at pet fairs, online sales viadog-related websites, mail order sales supported by newspaper,catalog, online and magazine advertising, and establishing a doggieclothing boutique at home or in a retail storefront location. Asdog owners know, word travels fast amongst dog owners, and when agreat product for a pet is found, he or she is quick to spread theword to other dog owners.
Lots of people have pets that can't be boarded or left withfriends and family when the need arises--pets with chronic healthconditions or exotic pets that are difficult to take care of.Likewise, many people prefer to have their dogs, cats and otherpets in the safety and familiar surroundings of home, rather thanan unfamiliar boarding environment. When these pet owners want orneed to be away from their home, there is only one solutionavailable: hire a pet-sitting service to come to their homes andtake care of their beloved pets while they're away.
If you want to work on a small scale, you can be the pet sitter.But if your intention is to operate full time with an eye ongrowth, you'll need to hire or contract additional pet sitters.Good candidates for the job include pet-loving retirees andstudents. Market your pet-sitting services through pet-relatedbusinesses in your community such as veterinarians, pet supplyretailers, dog trainers, dog walkers and pet-grooming services.Remember, many people also hire pet sitters for short periods oftimes--a weekend away, a night out, or time off for family events.Therefore, you'll need to develop fee schedules for long- andshort-term jobs.
Dog Day Care
Day-care facilities for dogs are becoming increasingly popular,especially as more and more caring dog owners are realizing thebenefits of leaving their beloved dogs at day care with other dogsinstead of at home alone while they are at work. Dogs, like people,are social creatures and need contact with people and other dogs tobecome well-behaved and confident. However, a dog day care shouldnot be confused with a kennel, which boards animals for short- andlong-term time spans. A doggie day care is strictly a drop off inthe morning and pick up in the evening or anytime during the daytype of operation. If space allows and your neighbors don'tmind the barking, you can open at home. A better alternative is torent commercial warehouse space and covert it into a dog day carespa, complete with water features, fenced outdoor space, and indoorcouches to ensure your clients have all the creature comfortsthey're used to at home. One innovative day care center in mycommunity recently installed web cams throughout their facility sopeople at work could log onto their website and see live footage oftheir dogs playing with other dogs. Current rates are in the rangeof $15 to $25 per day, with discounts for weekly service.
Dog Obedience Training
Dog obedience training is a multimillion-dollar industry, andcontinues to grow by double digits as more and more dog ownersrealize the benefits of professional obedience training. Trainingclasses can be held at your home in a one-on-one or group format,or if your home isn't suitable you can travel to yourcustomers' homes and train one-on-one. Likewise, you can alsostrike deals with schools and community center to hold dogobedience classes on weekends and nights. Many trainers arecurrently not certified by a recognized association, although thattrend is changing. If you're serious about making dog obediencetraining your career, I strongly suggest you receive professionaltraining to become an instructor and obtain the requiredcertifications. Not only can certification be used as a powerfulmarketing tool when persuading people that you're the righttrainer for their dog, but having the proper credentials will alsomean that you can charge a premium for your services. Current ratesfor in-home training are in the range of $30 to $50 per hour andmany trainers create dog-training packages for their customers,which include a set amount of training classes and course materialsin print and video formats.
Dog Walking Service
A dog walking service is perfectly suited fro the person who hasthe time, patience and a love for dogs. Best of all, this businesscan be started for less than $100. There are various styles ofmulti-lead dog walking collars and leashes available that willallow three or more dogs to be walked at the same time withoutbecoming tangled in the leash. Acquiring this equipment will beimportant to your new business, as it will reduce frustration andenable you to walk multiple dogs at the same time, thus increasingrevenues and profits. To secure clients for the service, simplydesign a promotional flier that explains your dog walking serviceand qualifications. Distribute the fliers to businesses that arefrequented by dog owners, such as groomers, kennels, pet stores,community animal shelters, and veterinarians. Once word is outabout your dog walking service, it shouldn't take long toestablish a base of 20 or 30 regular clients.
Tropical Fish and Aquarium Rentals
Gigantic profits can be earned by starting a tropical fish andaquarium rental business, and best of all, this very uniqueenterprise can be set in motion for less than $5,000 and managedright from your home office. At this point, I'm sure you'rewondering exactly who would rent tropical fish and an aquarium? Thelist is very long, and if you think about waiting rooms, the listof potential clients can include doctors, lawyers, restaurants andbusiness offices. Once a regular client base has been establishedfor this business, the annual profits could well exceed $50,000 ormore.
Designing, manufacturing and wholesaling pet toys could put you onthe path to financial freedom, and this opportunity can be startedpart time from home on a minimal initial investment. There areliterally thousands of different pet toys on the market and this isdefinitely a situation where it's not important that you buildit first, only better. The toys can be sold on a wholesale basis topet retailers, or even directly to consumers via the internet andmail order. The key to success in this type of business is to havea high-quality toy and the ability to get the pet toy in front ofas many potential customers as possible. Remember, pets are likechildren to most people and generally people will spare no expensewhen it comes to the happiness of their pets.
If your motivation for starting a pet breeding business is purelyfor profit, then buzz off. The last thing the world needs are morepuppy mills. However, if your motivation for starting a petbreeding business is because you have a keen interest in aparticular breed of animal and you also have a keen interest inensuring that the animal is sold to a caring family, then this ithe business for you. Chances are you're going to have a veryrewarding business future both personally and financially.Additional considerations for starting a pet breeding businessinclude qualifications, business location, registration,association memberships, and marketing skills and abilities. Onceestablished, a professional breeder might not need to advertise, asword-of-mouth and referrals spread fast in this industry.
Gourmet Pet Treats
The fastest growing segment of the pet foods industry is gourmetdog treats. There's a lot of money to be made in this businessbecause the profit margin is very high and people are willing topay for the best dog treats money can buy. As people become morehealth conscious of their own diets, they begin to scrutinize theirpet's diets as well, and many are turning to naturally madefood and biscuits for their dogs, even though all-natural handmadebiscuits cost as much as ten times more than commercially producedbiscuits.
Making dog biscuits at home is easy; all you need to get startedare dog biscuit recipes, healthy ingredients, biscuit molds (thoseshaped like bones and cats are favorites), a catchy name, andpackaging materials. Baking and selling specialty dog treats is afantastic opportunity for pet-loving entrepreneurs who want to workfrom home and have lot of fun. Selling options are plentiful. Sellto independent and chain pet retailers on a wholesale basis or toconsumers via online pet products marketplaces, at pet fairs, andfrom your home supported by word-of-mouth advertising. Theadvertising is very easy to get, providing dogs love yourtreats.
James Stephenson invests his fifteen years of small business,marketing and sales experience into his books. He has started andoperated numerous successful homebased businesses, and is author ofthe highly acclaimed books UltimateStart-Up Directoryand UltimateSmall Business Marketing Guideas well as the 202 Series. James operates Stephenson & Stephenson, aconsulting firm providing small business owners with creative,results-based marketing solutions.