My initial plan is to start this as a local service. My though was to help those that can not get their pets to appointments, groomers, etc. (Perhaps expanding into the neighboring states). My thought was to have it be a pet taxi service. I've researched other companies. Most of them are pet sitting companies that have transportation as an add on. There are not many however that offer this service. I'm not sure where to start. I would need funding for a well equipped vehicle. I have visualized what I would need, but just need some guidance on where to start. I hope this makes a little sense. :)
I have zero business experience - but am a Veterinarian. I would say there is a need - however the need arises most with those that have trouble affording their own transportation and often trouble affording veterinary care. There are many veterinary programs that operate programs specifically to help low income, disabled etc. you may be able to work with them if they have grant money that can incorporate your fees in order to better serve those that would not be able to use the service otherwise.
A population that may have transportation trouble without financial trouble is our elderly/retired pet owners. Not sure how to make in roads to that population other than direct advertising, door to door in retirement area ( I am in Florida they are nearly everywhere...), etc.
A potential option would be to work with veterinary hospitals - have them be your "client" and work with them on a production model - cases would not otherwise have come to them - and potentially bill the clinic or a smaller fees to the pet owner and a % from the paid invoice from the veterinarian - a percentage of all or part of the "production" for that visit.
Getting "bonded" or having insurance coverage for the transport has been the other big hurdle for many as I understand it. I don't have any suggestions there.
There may be potential for grant money if you are able to show your venture will help those in need in some way - https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-programs.html
Looks like a good place to start - but as other more business oriented folks have already said - I am certain you will need to have a sound business plan/model and would likely need to have some sort of entity registered or licensed in order to qualify for most grants.
I'm a little late in seeing this and responding. I run a pet business in my area, which is primarily pet sitting/dog walking, with poop scooping and pet taxi services offered, although very few of my clients utilize the taxi services.
For my business I worked with EBV (Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans) from Syracuse University to help build a business plan and work with mentors to research the market and think of things I wasn't thinking of. I'd recommend taking advantage of this program to get some excellent knowledge. An internet search will bring it up.
As for business startup, I established mine as an LLC, and registered as a veteran-owned business, which refunded the cost of establishing the LLC. That was for Texas, so make sure to check with your state offices to see if that's the same benefit where you are.
When you're registering, make sure to ask if the services you're offering are taxable, if there are special requirements... they may shed some light on something you didn't think about. For example, I do poop scoop services, and if I take the waste with me it's considered waste removal and needs to charge a tax, but if I leave it in the client's trash can, it's not taxable. Weird things like that are easily overlooked.
During the entrepreneurship program, someone asked me if I was going to transport large breed dogs. I hadn't thought of it, but to include large dogs requires a sizable vehicle with lots of cargo space.
And insurance is another thing to consider:
You can get pet business insurance through various organizations such as Pet Sitters International (PSI), Pet Sitter Associates (PSA), but pet taxi may add an extra cost to the insurance they offer, so it's good to compare different professional organizations.
Your vehicle insurance may change if the vehicle is insured as a business vehicle vs. personal use, so that's another thing to consider--will the vehicle be dual-purpose?
I've been in the business for two years, and annual earnings have increased each year. The pet industry is booming. The first year is the toughest while establishing your name and getting clients. Letting your community know you're offering your services through local Facebook city pages and NextDoor (this one is HUGE for me) is a good way to reach your neighbors without having to send a bunch of mailers out, and it's free. Yelp is free to create a listing, but their advertising people will try calling, and calling to sell Yelp ads, and they're pressure sales are terrible.
If you have more pet business questions, feel free to reach out to me. I'd be happy to help! Good luck!
Patriot Pet Services
Casey Tuohy, thank you! You gave me some great information that I wasn't aware of. I am currently enrolled in a different cohort at Syracuse University, so I'll have to look at the EBV too.
In order to raise capital you should consider starting off as a dog walker and then add to your list of services as you grow. It is a good idea but I don’t believe it should be the only service you provide. A good place to start is your local veterinarians and pet grooming shops to get more information. Their input can help you paint a picture for the demand of such a service and if they are willing to provide any clients when you begin operations. Dream big and start small. Consistency is key, remain calm, cool, calculated, controlled. Hope that helps.
I'm more inclined to suggest caution. First check into the possibility and cost of liability insurance.
In our area some people value pets more than kids. So if you were to lose or cause injury to a pet you could lose a lot of money, time, heartache, etc.
trust and transport. how does one build trust --- several ways and military service may be a start. transport -- have you considered using a recumbent trike for transport dhl is doing so in the neatherland. could have rentals for rides dog or not.
That is a great idea !
This may be unpopular advice - it is based on my personal experience. One option is to jump into it and figure it out as you go. Most of it is common sense. I don’t see why you need financing, assuming you have a car you can use. Of course you will need bookkeeping, insurance, and so forth, but everything is available easily online. (The problem is simply discerning what really is necessary, i.e., too much information.) If you need any additional assistance please feel fee to contact me. And if you are set on financing I might can provide some specific ways to go. It’s similar to a business I started and we became the largest in the country of our type.
First, thank you for your service. Next, just start it! You will do some things wrong. You will not have the vehicle that you want. You will not price is properly. But you will figure it out as you go. Yes, there are some things you need to get, the main being insurance. But don't let anything stop you if this is a passion of yours.
I have worked with a lot of small businesses and starting out, they had bumps and things they had to adjust, but they just jumped in a did it. As I stated, as long as you have insurance, you can make the other little mistakes. Build a website, which is easy these days. Print some business cards, which is cheap. Set up as a DBA to start. As you grow, you will want to change to an LLC or Corp, but to start, you can do it yourself.
You can plan and prepare, but for this type of business, get insurance and jump in. It sounds like it's a solid idea. If you ever want to bounce ideas off of someone, Google me and you'll find my contact. Start with friends and social media. Start today!!!
First off, what a great idea!
I think you are on to something…. However, as you stated many pet businesses provide a pet taxi service with their initial service. If you were to open this business, along with the pet taxi service, what would you offer their pet? The pet taxi service alone may not be enough. Good Luck!
I'm at Fort Jackson. My e-mail is Thart@dominionperformance.com. Have some ideas.
Check out SCORE. Its a free program supported by the Small Business Administration. You are paired with a mentor that helps you develop your business. https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/score. They help you develop a business plan, a budget, identify your market, and show you how to apply for a government contract if its a need that has not been met. Sounds like you have an idea but you haven't figured out how to make money from it and they help you tackle that important question.
Hi Julissa --
You might want to do some research about the demographics in your market -- are there enough people with a high enough income to be able to appreciate and pay for such a service? This goes beyond pet-sitting and walking -- so you must determine whether this niche needs to be filled. Also, many pet owners are now expecting their pet caregivers to have some training in pet care and health, so check with local vets to see if there is a class or two you can take for a certificate or something equivalent to add to your bonafides.
As a career coach I have several tools to help you with this new idea. I don't charge folks in the military. This is my way to say thank you. I started my own business and help several people to find out if their idea was doable.
my website is transitionsbyTaube.com. if you'd like my help call my and we'll talk about how we can do this.
Thank you for your service.
Taube (pronounced Tobi) Weiner
Hey there Julissa,
While I wouldn't go as far as doing an online MBA in your particular case, Curtis does raise many valid points concerning the pitfalls that can happen when you don't have a solid plan moving forward with regard to what you want to get out of this business. Are you looking to make a profit (a business that can define a Return on Investment <ROI>), or are you looking to be a non-profit (an aide to the community focusing on a specific area that needs attention)? I ask this because it seems that, given what you've written, the latter seems the way you would want to go (phrases like "help those that cannot...").
Whichever is the answer, and before you commit ANY money to equipment/space/etc.,
I would suggest taking the time to write up a business plan for yourself given what you want out of this business if you haven't done so already. The Small Business Administration has an online guide on the matter that you may find handy (https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan). The main reason you want to do this is, in my experience, three fold:
- It quickly helps you discover WHY you want to go into business; your motivations. If it's deeper than financial gain, you may find that simply forming an LLC or company may not best address your unique business needs
- It sets you up for success later when it comes to securing non-equity funding. Often times, banks and other third party interests you seek funding from may require you to have a business proposal, or this very document, handy before allowing you to open an account.
- It helps you organize the chaos that is too many good ideas. Often times, as Curtis alluded to, we get in our own headspace and start thinking of all of the end-results we "want" out of the business without heavily considering the boring, but more important, logistics to get there. Having a well thought out business plan can at the very least identify potential hurdles you may encounter as you start and later evolve your business.
Often the idea for a business has the inventor wanting to start with the end state in mind. I have started businesses in the past with this thinking and they rarely work out. You end up with so much cruft that you can't sustain it. The business that I eventually sold, I started with nothing but an idea and sold the service to a customer with a setup fee that was half now half when I completed the job. The half down approach got me enough money to purchase used equipment and a small platform to get services up and running for this one customer and then everything else was profit I could plow into the things I learned along the way that would allow me to expand my service. I would suggest starting without a lot of equipment but just some crates to carry the animals in what you have and see how eager the market is for your service. If it grows, put the money into developing an app for people to schedule service and tie it to the geo location of you matched up with the geo location of the customer. This will allow you to start building an email list that people opt in for when service is available in their area and you can start selling either a franchise or a service offering like uber or rover but with your service and control over everything.
There's things like insurance and marketing and background checks, etc... to think about. You might want to sign up for an online MBA in entrepreneurship to learn how to put all the parts together as your grow. Also, don't be afraid to cut bait and try something else if it becomes a hobby and not a business (to quote Mr Wonderful from Shark Tank)
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