Wednesday, July 25, 2007

*Go Green for Pets*

These days being ecologically friendly is a way of life, even for our furry family members. You can extend the going green concept into a pet business as well. Earth friendly pet toys and pet beds are great ways to be friendly to the earth and give to your pet as well.

Some companies are taking cues from the going green movement and launching their earth-friendly products now. A couple of companies such as Cat Genie and Worldwise are contributing by creating earth-friendly toys, beds and litter boxes.

Try thinking about ways your new pet business can be earth-friendly and help out pet parents in the process. Look throughout your community and see if any other pet businesses are working in this arena. If not you can carve out your very own niche, and if they are look for ways you can branch off of what they're doing or go in a totally new direction.

There are many ways to recycle used materials, maybe you can come up with a way to reuse something no one has thought of yet...and you're on your 'Go Green' way!

Friday, July 20, 2007

**Getting Official::Licensing, Certifications**

For some start-up businesses it's essential that you 'seem' official before you even get started, but in other cases you can wait to get certain certifications until later on in your business cycle. Once you've decided on your business and what direction you're going to take it, you'll want to investigate what certifications are available to you and which ones are the best fit for you and your business.

In a world where competition can be thick you don't want to stand out in an unprofessional way by not being certified when your competition is. Customers will automatically brush you aside as a newbie and not want to trust you with their pets. But just by getting any certifications that apply to your business, can give you credibility that you didn't have just yesterday.

For pet sitters there is Pet Sitters International an organization dedicated to the promotion and professionalism of pet sitters everywhere. Membership is affordable and you can proudly display their logo on marketing items and on your website.

There's also the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and their goal is to give support and foster success to all pet sitters. Both organizations are a good start to launching and continuing on the right path for your pet sitting business.

Also if in your community you need a business license to operate a good place to start is at your city treasurer office. They can either point you in the right direction or see to it that you get the right business license for your operation.

You need to remember that in addition to launching your pet business and all the 'fun' stuff, there is also administrative needs that have to be looked at in order to keep your business professional and profitable.

Look around your community and if you have competition find out all you can about them. What certifications do they possess, how long they've been in business and look for loopholes in what they provide and see if there is room where you can do it better, more efficiently and/or smarter.

Starting your business is exciting but just remember that it is a business and should be treated as such. ~Best of Luck

Sunday, July 15, 2007

*Cater to New Puppy Parents*

If you've ever been around a new mother (or have been one) days or weeks after bringing home a new baby you can understand and appreciate the idea of not needing to do a lot except care for the new addition.

Now if you've ever brought home a new puppy you should be able to appreciate the convenience that having puppy supplies, knowledge and a good understanding about that new little life is too. A great niche idea for you if you have or are willing to acquire the skills and information needed to 'consult' new puppy parents on their newest edition. For some new parents a puppy is completely foreign ground and they don't really have a clue as to where to begin. In comes you the puppy expert. You could provide new puppy arrival baskets chock full of information geared specifically to new puppies, and their parents.

For a flat fee or a revolving service as needed you could go to their homes, and puppy proof their living spaces, suggest tips and tricks on potty training, and give insight on great puppy food, toys and snacks. You could choose to include disciplinary assistance as well, because an untrained puppy turns into an untrained dog, that in some cases winds up in the pounds or animal shelters.

Another spin on this concept could be that you puppy proof for the new parents, personal shop for their toys, treats, food and new sleeping quarters and let them concentrate on bonding and getting to know their new family member.

Puppies need so much care and attention that it can seem overwhelming to some inexperienced parents, but you can step in and give them peace of mind with your knowledge and gentle approach to safety, caring and understanding a puppies needs.

Hmmm....this is really a great idea, I've got ideas like these all day long. If you love puppies this concept could be just what you're looking for!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

*Picking The Pet Business For You*

Maybe you already know what pet business you'd like to start, or maybe you just know that you and animals are great together and you just want to do something in the pet industry. Deciding what business works best for you and which route will be the best fit is something you should really work through.

You've probably heard about doing something you love, and this is true for most people. But in some cases doing what you love can backfire and now what you used to love is something that has become a chore or just plain not fun anymore. Maybe you should consider something that you know would be a great service to others, or something that is desperately needed where you are. I've found that success breeds interest, and when you become successful or fill a great niche or need you sometimes find something that you didn't realize you loved. How great would that be? In my personal journey I've found that when I started doing something because I loved it so, after a bit it became something that I wanted to do less and less, why? Because now instead of doing for the love of it my motivation switched to the money of it. Not always a recipe for success, it works wonderfully for some but not for all.

You need to asses what you're good at overall, are you great at organizing, or solving difficult problems, or maybe you enjoy helping others find their passions. Because the pet industry is so vast in many cases your love of what you can do best and naturally can be turned into an enjoyable and profitable pet industry business or pet service. Let me list some associations of skills that you could match with services or businesses.

You're a Natural At:::::::::::::::::::::::::: Try This:

*Designing::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Pet Home Architect (doesn't the name sound fun?)

*Creating Deserts:::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Gourmet Pet Smoothies, Gourmet Pet Ice Cream

*Party Planning:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Organize Pet Pawties

*Web Design::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Create pet websites for pet parents or other

pet petpreneurs.

*Safe Driving:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Pet Taxi service

A good start is to jot down things you see that look interesting, or things you see you could do better than what is being done. Keep paper and pen handy and keep your petpreneur spirit alert, you never know when a spark could flame and you're on your way to a great pet business or service for your community.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

*Getting Your Pet Business Off The Ground*

If you've ever started any kind of business in the past you understand the need for people to know and be able to find your business. Whether they're looking for you online, or by other means you can have the best ideas and services in the world but if no one can find you, your business will plummet and fail. In the past this caveat has stopped me dead in my tracks. I've been plagued with perpetual ideas and creative thoughts but I didn't have a tried and true way to get the word out.

And it seems I'm not alone. So in this post I'll give you the tips that I've found have finally worked for me, and ones that I'm in the process of trying myself. Fortunately, because of being in a niche pet business this tedious task can become a little more interesting and fun. Let's get started!

1.~Shelters & Rescue Centers~ Because most shelters and rescue missions are in dyer need of volunteers and help, you as a pet business start-up can use this to your best advantage. While assisting the organization you can also assist your business too. For instance if you offer dog walking as your pet business, why not go to your local shelter and offer your services to the shelter dogs, in exchange for leaving your advertising materials, or business postcards.

These dogs especially need human interaction and in most cases love the attention that you walking them will bring. Or if you're a pet photographer why not donate a few photo sessions with some of the dogs or cats. Some lively pictures taken by a pet photographer could boost their chances of being adopted, and bring you in some clients to boot. Instead of their usually drab and depressing photos you'll bring some life to their photos.

2.~Dog Parks and Events~ If you haven't already you should map out and frequent dog parks and events that cater to pets and animals. These events are a great place to meet and familiarize yourself with your local pet and animal community. You'll in most cases find that the pet parent community is one that is easy going, and very approachable. This aspect is one of my favorites when it comes to working with pets and their parents. Take some business cards with you stapled to some gourmet pet treats and hand them out to parents at the park. Everyone loves free stuff and with you business card attached or some other type of promotional item, you'll be remembered easily and fondly.

Try to offer some part of your services free at first. I know just starting out it may seem counter-productive but it actually can work in your favor in the long run. When you're just starting out working for free can allow you to grab a good chunk of customers/clients and that later on will benefit you in ways that trying to be paid first can't. And personally I find it easier to offer things for free and people seem accept what you have to offer if you offer it for free (at least in the beginning :)

Pet friendly events can also be a great way to connect with your community and pet parents. In addition to participate as a vendor for these events are usually less expensive than traditional events. This is sometimes the case if the event is primarily for animals and pets. For instance here in the Hampton Roads, VA area we have an event called The Pet Palooza and to be a vendor is FREE! So you'll want to research this type of advertising as being in the center of an event like this can truly catapult your pet business, and your client base as well.

3.~Big Box Pet Stores~ Unless you're a direct competitor to those big box pet chains you could look into setting up a table and a chair outside the store and hand-out your pet business cards or postcards showcasing your pet service or products. The traffic at these locations especially after 4pm and on the weekends can be tremendous. Depending on what you're offering this avenue could prove to be very lucrative for you. Such pet businesses like waste removal, pet sitting, walking, grooming, photography, therapy, training can all be a great business to advertise outside of these stores. That is of course if they don't offer them there, obviously you'll need to check the details on this one.

4.~Small Pet Boutiques and Bakeries~ Most of these type of stores typically have specific product lines and services they offer. If you offer something that maybe they've thought of adding or looking into, you can step in and offer your services per appointment or on a couple of days of the week basis. For instance, if you provide artisan work like pet artist you can ask to set up your drawing table in the store or bakery and provide services to the customers in the store. They'll love the added convenience and the owner will love it to because it adds value to their establishment. In some cases the owner may ask for a percentage of your profits or if you're a creative negotiator you can find a way to work this angle without money. If you approach this type of co-op'ing a good idea is to have materials to leave in advance that states that you and your services or products will be available on these days from these times. Just showing up can sometimes backfire when it comes to the stores customers, but in other cases it could be just what you need. You'll need to asses your situation for this.

Ok, so there you have it 4 good ways to get your pet business launched or going. Do you have some great ways to launch a pet business? We'd love to hear you!!! Leave a comment for other budding petrepreneurs and 'pay it forward'.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Pet Business Website

You've heard all the talk, and you've browsed the internet some but still not sure about creating a website? Well if you're considering starting a pet business, a website is a must. Now don't let that line scare you, creating and publishing a website is easier than ever and is completely affordable no matter what your goals are.
We'll briefly cover the basics, but understand you'll need to research the best options for you and your pet business. Because you're entering a niche market with a pet related business there are companies who cater directly to you in assisting you in your pet website creation endeavors.

In your first steps you'll want to decide on what your pet website will do. Will it just provide a page to tell visitors about your services/products, will your site share pet related information, or will you sell straight from your site? Or maybe a combination of the three? You'll need to think of a great website name as well. For this step brainstorm several ideas, and try to include what you'll do in your name. But be careful you don't want a super long name, this will be difficult to remember and hard to fit onto materials later on.

GOOD EXAMPLES: Pet Passion Walkers, Doggie Duty Waste Clean-up, NOT SO GOOD EXAMPLE: Sarah's Pet Walking, Sitting and Boarding Services.

Start looking at similar sites and get a feel for what you like and take notes on design cues. This DOES NOT MEAN COPY, please ensure you're not copying an exact copy of another pet related website, this is illegal not to mention distasteful. For instance if you find a site with a great organizational structure make a note of that. Or great navigation order? Make a note.

Keep track of what type of information you want to include on your website. Keeping your content specific to your pet services or products will allow more customers to find you easier and keep the search engines happy. What does that mean? People can find you faster or better through search engine sites like Google, Yahoo, and others.

If you decide to go with a website builder company not in the pet business niche look for clues of professionalism, longevity and support. Look for 'live' customer sites, a complete list of features for their packages, technical support that is free and readily available. Also at this point you should have an idea of what you want out of your website so that you can match this up with what is available from the providers. Most reputable hosting and web building companies will offer a great site builder, at least 3 email accounts(so you can have info[at] etc), technical support, great server uptime usually 99% or better, plenty of disk space usually 500 mega bytes or more, and enough bandwidth that if you get a surge in traffic your pet business website can handle it.
And Trust Me... DO NOT use those FREE WEBSITE, DOMAIN companies. Where you don't pay in hosting or for your domain you pay in technical support (or lack thereof), and user-friendly ease. These companies usually 'get you' in other ways that are not ethical or industry standards. So please do your research and if you've got questions...We've Got Answers, just ask.

For more information on building Your Pet Business Website Go Here!

**3 Pet Businesses You Can Start Today**

Need some pet business idea boosters? We list some great idea starters to get your start-up started!

1* Pooper Scooper- It's hard to believe but you can make a good living picking up 'doody' for pet parents who either don't have the time to do it themselves, or would rather spend their time doing otherwise. This business is appealing due to the low start-up costs, no special skills needed, and no special equipment to purchase. In a nutshell if you can navigate a shovel, plastic bags and can tolerate the less than appealing aroma, you're in business! Or if you prefer you can hire hands to do the 'doody work' and you can handle the admin side of the business. Taking care of spreading the word, handling mobile payments, scheduling appointments and managing the team.

You'll want to get the word out by talking with local vets, visiting dog parks where pet parents hang-out with their pets, and posting on community listings boards. Don't forget your weekly community newspapers as well, their advertising rates are generally cheaper than the city papers. Research other scooper's rates to get an idea of what your service should charge. But be not just charge a lower fee, instead look for ways to enhance your services to add value to your services. Maybe include a pet-friendly grass and yard treatment, or maintenance. Use your imagination and think about what you'd like to see offered as a busy pet parent.

Don't forget you'll need reliable transportation, a great sense of direction or a GPS, cell phone, garbage buckets, plastic bags, shovels or grabbers, and an industrial pair of rubber gloves and boots.

Keep your image professional with business cards, letterheads, and mailing labels. Be sure to keep your look consistent, this starts your 'branding' look. You'll also want to consider a logo that will be on all your materials as well.

Get started today and you're on your way to a successful Pooper Scooper business.

2*Pet Photographer- Got shutterbug skills? Then maybe a business capturing animals on film is for you. What better way to capture the furry family members than with photos or video. You can specialize in a particular animal or do all animals the flexibility is entirely up to you. Start out part-time to get your feet wet and to build up your business clientele. You can choose to be mobile, operate from a local boutique or store, from a home studio or all of the above.

Keep your business fun and entertaining for the pets and their parents with funny costumes, playful backdrops, great music and themes. Add value to your services by including customized products with their photos on them like mugs, t-shirts, collages, bags, calendars, hats and whatever you can come up with.

Taking professional photos requires a great digital camera. This doesn't mean you have to spend tons of your budget on a camera, but you'll want to spend a good deal on your camera. Do some research and pick a camera that has enough pixels, and the Macro function for great close-ups.

You'll want to have experience with a variety of animals so that you can persuade them to cooperate...and keep them at ease. This will make your job easier and keep your pet parents happy not to mention keep those referrals coming.

To spread the word about your business consider taking pictures for rescue and animal shelters in exchange for your business being displayed with flyers or business cards. Donating your services is a great way to get your name out there for your pet photography business, and you'll get great experience to boot.

So got you camera handy? Then get out there and shoot!

3*Pet Fashion and Accessories- Are you a fashion maven? Love staying ahead of fashion trends? A business in the pet fashion industry could be right up your runway! Pet parents are spending $30 billion on their furry family members, and you can carve a niche out with unique, durable pet fashions and accessories. Create your own fashions or become a wholesale distributor for a company you like.

This industry is branching off into pet 'pawties' too. Hosting home shows for pets and their parents is becoming a fast-growing trend as well. You can become a distributor for national companies that provide all the products and you can host the parties or make appointments to take the show on the road to other pet parents homes.

Again low start-up costs, but you'll want business cards or postcards to keep a professional image. Spread the word to your friends and families that own pets and go from there. You can even offer incentives to host a party for you.

Ready? Now work that catwalk!

Now there are tons more pet-related businesses out there you can start right now. We've covered just a few, but if none of these fit you keep searching or contact us we'd be happy to assist you in figuring out the best fit for you!