Starting a business is never an easy task.
Many people believe that starting a business is as easy as walking in the park, but in reality, it works completely differently – unless the business actually involves walking in a park.
With so many dog owners across the States, it was just a matter of time when almost everything dog-related was about to become profitable in a way.
From dog food to dog grooming products – there is a price on almost anything.
This is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that a dog walking business is now a real thing.
Are you a huge dog lover who thinks about starting an entrepreneurial business, or just shifting careers?
If so, you probably already have some thoughts on how would it be to run a dog walking business, right?
This is something that keeps your mind busy for a long time, but you are not sure where to start?
Keep on reading, because we have got you covered.
Below you will find information on how to start a dog walking business and how to overcome major challenges.
Information that we have gathered should help you get the most important ins and outs of the industry and help you kick off your business in the best way possible.
Start A Dog Walking Business
There are several reasons for wanting to become a dog walker.
It can be a passion for dogs, a strong need to be fit, a desire to be physically challenged, or just an opportunity to earn some good money.
Working some time as a dog walker is also a great opportunity to strengthen your organizational skills, as well as your time management.
Now, you have experience as a dog owner, or as a dog walker, and dealing with dogs on a daily level is something that you see yourself doing in the long run?
If so, you should know that you are in for a treat, but do not expect running a dog business to be a walk in the park.
Before you choose the perfect name for your business and invest in marketing, there are certain things that you need to consider first.
But First… Get The Best Business Name Possible
Every business needs a good name.
When starting a dog walking business you should think about the business name, but you shouldn’t put all of your energy into that. This means that you shouldn’t overthink it.
Not sure where to start? Popular dog names are always a good start.
Do you think that you need more ideas? If that is the case, check this list of our Disney dog names – who knows, maybe your magical name is hidden in these lines.
Coming up with a name should be fun.
Make it short, easily relatable to you and your business, and let it be catchy so that people can easily connect with it.
Plus, when a name is catchy people are more eager to come and see what is behind the closed doors.
Think About Business Structure
Have you ever heard of that saying – Fail to plan, plan to fail? This is what happens to the majority of businesses that miss planning.
Running a business isn’t only about doing what you love… It is also a lot about planning, making hard decisions, overcoming obstacles, thinking about marketing, building partnerships, entering the dog-walking market the best way possible, choosing the best insurance for your business, and having the right equipment, and so on…
This is why having structure can also help.
For your business to kick off and become a strong small business you need a proper structure.
Do you know how to set up a business?
Talk with experienced dog walkers who run their businesses already.
Consult an accountant to see what you need paper-wise, and if possible, got yourself a business advisor to walk you through every step.
Don’t forget to use online materials such as courses, business talks, and even podcasts to see what you can benefit from the most.
There are also many grants and other finance-wise sources such as seed money, that can help you have a stronger start.
Develop A Business Plan
The best thing that you can do for your business is to plan. Now you may think -why plan when unplanned things may happen anyhow?
Well, the truth is that without the plan, you won’t have clear guidance, and your business vision most likely won’t get true.
While planning you are actually creating a space where you can actually afford unplanned moments. This is why a business plan is important.
Having a business plan may sound like a lot of work (it is!), but it will serve as a strict business direction.
Here is what you need to consider when creating your business plan:
- Have a clear idea of where you want your business to be
- Learn about your competition
- Plan a business structure
- Know what services you offer
- Think about marketing and promotion plans
- Plan your finances
Do You Know Your Market?
Before you start your dog walking business you need to get to know your market first.
This may be easier said than done, but if you have been already working as a dog walker, then you have a wider picture of how needed your services actually are…
It cannot harm to conduct extensive research and to get some numbers. How can you benefit it from?
If you want to offer your service in a specific neighborhood, and you get data that among 50 houses there is only one house with a dog, it should be obvious that this area shouldn’t be your focus at the moment…
It also means that you should focus on a higher number of dog owners and put your resources in their direction.
Be prepared to Google a lot… Check who your competition is and where they work.
Learn as much as possible about their clients and see how they build customer relationships.
Do you have a dog already (if not, ask your friends and family for a quick favor…)?
If yes, hire a dog walker from your competition, and check the prices, how they work, what are their strengths, are if there any weak spots…
This way you will taste first-handed what is offered at the market, and you will be better prepared to offer what is missing.
You will have to pay for these walks of course, but do not look at them as an expense, but rather an investment.
Another way to test the market is to talk with people.
Does this mean that you should knock on people’s doors and ask them several questions?
No. Instead, you should head to the dog park after the business hours (during weekends may be the best, or after working hours when people are more chill and open for a small chat) and ask them what their pain points are when it comes to using dog walker services.
You will be surprised to hear what dog owners do notice, but dog walkers tend to miss.
Extra tip: Talk with dog groomers and employees at local pet stores – they might have some tips for you as well. After all, they do communicate with dog owners directly in most cases.
Form Your Prices
Running a business is a serious decision.
You may love dogs the most in the world, but you still have to make a living. This is why you should have a strong plan, so you can develop your processes and operations so you can make a significant revenue later on.
Once you create your business name and do a throughout market research you should have enough information to start thinking about your price.
If you are not sure where or how to start when it comes to price forming, you can turn to your competition.
Check their prices and see if they fit your investment and lifestyle. You never want to create too low or too high prices compared to those on the market, but instead, you want to find a medium value.
Price can be determined by several different factors, and you should feel free to include those factors in your pricing.
For example, if you don’t want strict working hours, and you want to work around the client’s schedule then you have the full right to charge more.
This is something that should be a guiding start when it comes to starting your business: find your value (what separates you from the others) and charge for that.
Invest In Promotion
No business can survive without marketing.
Promotion is what really matters when it comes to spreading the word around.
Not using digital space to promote your business nowadays is like not thinking about your business in the best way possible.
For even an average budget you can significantly promote your business to a wide audience. Still, don’t focus on digital presence only.
A well-designed flyer can take you a long way when it comes to reaching the right public.
Set flyers around the neighbors, and visit veterinarian clinics, groomers, and pet salons.
Don’t forget to place a flyer in front of the dog park. When it comes to digital marketing at the moment nothing beats Instagram and TikTok and you should harvest the power of these platforms to your advantage.
If you are not sure how to use online platforms take an online course or hire (when finances allow it) a marketing manager to manage your digital accounts.
Still, no matter how much effort you put into marketing, nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing.
Focus on happy customers and building trust so they choose to come back to you over and over again.
Customer satisfaction is something that can give your business the best value. Use it wisely.
Should Your Get Dog Walking Insurance
This question is something that many business owners keep on asking.
Is it possible to run a business without insurance? Of course, it is.
Is it a good decision? This depends on the industry, your area of expertise, and how sensitive your business is.
For example, when working with living beings you have much more responsibility, so insuring yourself and your business cannot be a wrong decision.
Walking dogs isn’t always easy or safe, and accidents do happen. This is why maybe you should think about disability and life insurance.
Is it necessary? It’s not, but it can bring you extra peace of mind.
If you have someone working with you, you should be a responsible entrepreneur and make sure that they are covered under a pet care policy.
This additional fee will be worth it.
Plus, it sends a message that you are serious about your business and safety is something that you value highly.
Don’t Forget The Necessary Business Licenses
People love security. This is why between a dog walker with the right license and the one without, they will choose to give their puppy to the one with a certificate.
Running a dog walking business isn’t easy, but is definitely something that every state keeps regulated.
To operate lawfully you will need the right kind of license.
Make sure that you register with your local governing body to make sure that your business is legal.
Getting a business license is usually a fast and straightforward process. Not sure what to collect paper-wise or if you should set a sole proprietorship or not?
If so, it may not be a bad idea to consult a small business attorney who can help you get all the information that you need fast.
This may be pricey, but having the right start will save you numerous problems later on.
The Bottom Line
Starting any small business is hard.
It requires a certain level of dedication, time, and above-average planning skills.
It also requires stepping in when it’s hard and dealing with countless challenges along the way. However, if you’re a dog lover who loves dog walking and knows how much it helps dog owners organize their time and life you should keep it ongoing.
Just make sure that have the best start possible. That being said, get the right qualifications, calculate your expenses and form the best price possible, and make sure that you’re well insured.
Once you start, don’t forget to have fun.