\\\ Pet Business Start-Ups
\\\ updated 6 October 2021
Starting A New Pet Business
A New Pet Business At Christmas
Christmas is a great time to cash in on special pet-friendly services, by starting up a small business that could lead to a new, full-time venture. It provides an opportunity to work out whether your ideas are feasible at a peak industry time, or if you already have a business, add on a new marketing idea for your customers to enjoy and possibly develop the following year.
A selection of Christmas-themed small pet business start-up ideas
Christmas Pet Gift Shops that specialise in providing Christmas presents particularly trading between September and January each year.
Christmas Pet Personal Service is similar to concierge services that specialise in finding the right products for your customers. Aimed generally at more affluent customers, but a time-saver for those who have the cash but are time-poor which can be extended after the Christmas period.
Gift Wrap Christmas Designs are perfect for those entrepreneurs who have good web skills and can produce pet-themed stationery ranges or those who have real arts and handicrafts talent producing original hand-drawn artwork. Ranges can be extended throughout the year to include general pet themes.
Personalised Christmas-themed online services offering a range of pet products where customers send their prints for personalisation onto mugs, pens, collars, leads, picture frames, notebooks, keyrings with special Christmas adaptions to products. This business may need start-up financing more than most but can be extended to all major events during the year.
Christmas Holiday Card Design producing personalised Christmas cards with family gatherings and all the pets printed onto memorable keepsake cards. Additional ideas than just sending normal Christmas cards.
Christmas Pet Photography Huge opportunity and very busy time of year for offering professional photographic shoots in customers’ own homes with family and pets gathered together during the Christmas period. Many company’s offer special deals and discounts for this lucrative business period.
Christmas Interior Decorating Pet-Friendly Service offering a bespoke service decorating customers’ homes or places of work with only pet-friendly merchandise.
Christmas House-Sitting Services whilst everyone is busy enjoying themselves, this is also an important time for house-sitters whether sitting for free or paid and be considerably in demand.
Christmas Pet Hampers are very popular, full of pet treats for dogs, cats, rabbits, or other small pets. Often now sold in boxes to keep prices competitive and could continue through the following year offer regular treat subscription box service. For more ideas read our blog post ‘Starting A Pet Business’
Over the past year, the UK has seen a huge growth in the pet population during the pandemic. The public had time at home to spend their income on past times and hobbies which included buying pets, many being first-time pet owners.
This new influx of pet owners was good news to pet companies who rose to meet the challenge offering more products and services than ever to meet the extraordinary increase in demand.
The pet business is divided into three large multi billion-pound segments
- Professional pet services such as Pet Insurance and Veterinary Care.
- Necessary pet welfare including Pet Food Producers, Dog Microchipping Services, Dog Collar, Lead, and ID Tag Suppliers, Poop Bags and/Or Scoop, all of which are required legally.
- All other services and supplies.
Starting a pet business can be daunting, but many new small entrepreneurs start theirs unintentionally as a hobby which grows into a small part-time enterprise where some continue unwittingly developing their business into a highly sustainable multi-million concern.
New Subscription Businesses
There’s a huge new pet market trend growing in the UK where customers are turning to subscription-style businesses for their pet needs, ranging from pet foods being delivered to their home, or local drop off points, to pet treats, toy boxes, or pet routine treatment subscription boxes such as flea and worming packs arriving monthly, particularly egged on by the recent global events where more people are working and staying at home.
Subscription routine treatments box delivered to your door every month
Britain is regarded as a nation of pet lovers and will splash the cash on their beloved pets. The size of the UK’s pet business is estimated to be worth 8.5 billion, with as much as 4.3 billion spent by owners on pet boarding, 2.5 billion spent on pet food, and where surveys suggest that 2 in 5 pet owners spend as much on their pets as their friends present so there is plenty of new business opportunities.
Customers are looking online more than ever for fair deals from reputable companies and this has fuelled a massive increase in subscription company only offers on the web.
Operating as a subscription company, helps small business start-ups to expand in the knowledge of retaining customers, building brand loyalty, and enjoying steady monthly income.
Second, to monthly subscriptions has been the enormous surge in customers purchasing pet gift hampers during Autumn and Winter 2020, whilst various global lockdowns have been in place around the world.
Pet hamper companies are rising to the challenge often selling out seeing considerable export growth, particularly to the USA where there are more than 90 million dogs residing. 2021 Christmas time sees many businesses offering pet-tailored Christmas hampers packed full of toys, special food treats, and accessories.
Various retail pet online stores offer pet hampers, which are so popular as Christmas gifts, offering foods, treats, and toys, sometimes sold in a traditional wicker hamper, or more often a branded box allowing some customers to pick and choose the contents.
2020 saw more online pet stores offering one-off hampers which many have developed into monthly treat boxes for pets by subscription shopping, providing a sustainable all-year-round business.
Itch Pet subscription boxes were introduced during 2019 using personalized subscription packs to help pets lead healthy and happy life.
Seed money was obtained for the start-up with high-level marketing and branding. The ranges were developed in conjunction with veterinary experts tailoring to customers’ pet’s needs for treating routine pet treatments, for dogs and cats, mailing out every month.
Itch has developed their business further offering more services venturing into offering their thousands of existing customers lucrative pet insurance.
Several companies are offering similar services and usually with the first month free to new customers asking them only to pay minimal postage and packing.
- It’s essential to create a profitable pet business as quickly as possible if on a tight budget.
- Pet equipment and business start-up costs can be low in certain areas, such as a pet sitting business, where a shop and store isn’t required, whereas a grooming business requires capital for premises and pet equipment, unless a mobile service, which then only requires professional pet grooming portable equipment and a vehicle.
- Insurance is vital with several pet business specialised plans available.
- Vehicles need to be sympathetically and carefully adapted to carry pets and insurers informed that you are using your vehicle for business purposes.
- Low-cost businesses include dog walking and pet training services, where they can be set up from home.
- The British College of Canine Studies offers a Professional Dog Walkers certificate. A Pet first aid course is an important must and volunteering at a pet shelter to gain experience in handling multiple pets is extremely useful.
\\\ New Pet Business
Helpful Tips For The New Small Pet Business Owner
What’s The Best Business Name?
This can be sometimes the hardest part of setting up a new business with a meaningful, descriptive business name that your community is going to remember and find easily online.
5 Best TIPS Business Name Sources
- 1. Specify the type of pet your business will be selling to. Exotic pets? Rabbits? Dogs? Cats? or Pets? Make sure it is a short name.
2. Look around at your competitors but don’t copy them.
3. Look at business generator sites online such as Business Name Generator names available with the URL selling domain names companies. It is increasingly important to be found online, quickly and cheaply. They may provide more ideas.
4. Try out new business names on friends, family, and colleagues. Try asking people market research-led style questionnaires, in the park, in the street, preferably accompanying animals, how they engage with your new name. It can be a very interesting exercise! Get chatting with these people who may become your first customers.
5. Select your name and consider how you now want to create the look and feel with a logo for your business and marketing presence.
Research Other Competitors
Standing out from the crowd is so important, so undertaking research is key to success.
Look at the reasons why other pet business competitors are so successful.
6 Best TIPS
- 1. What is it they do well?
- 2. Are they competing for your target audience?
- 3. What are competitors’ charges like?
- 4. Can you undercut or offer first-time discounts?
- 5. Does your competitor offer additional services?
- 6. What can you do to achieve more business?
Advertising Your Pet Business
What should an effective advertisement for your pet business include? Below, an example of dog walking services.
12 Best TIPS
- 1. State exactly what your pet service is – Dog Walker and Pet sitter
- 2. State services can be tailored to suit individual needs where applicable
- 3. Regular or ad hoc basis offered
- 4. Area covered
- 5. Discount off first walk or other service booked
- 6. Fully insured
- 7. DBS checked
- 8. Caring and reliable bespoke pet service
- 9. Well established
- 10. 100% Trustworthy (or other star rating or referral in print if available
- 11. Contact Telephone/Mobile number
- 12. Website address
13 Best TIPS Start Marketing
- 1. Assess your target audience and reach out. Is it a national and international audience or a local business audience you need to grab a share of?
- 2. Strong digital presence including social media talking about your products is a must.
- 3. Pet owners love reading, seeing pictures and communicating about their beloved pets.
- 4. Look at cheap or free options on business pages. Advertising can expensive for a new pet business.
- 5. Visiting trade and consumer events to promote visual branding of your new products.
- 6. A well-optimised website explaining your business with lots of quality pet pictures with contact details clearly displayed as well as about the ownership of the business.
- 7. Simple but effective business cards that can be handed out.
- 8. Word-of-mouth personal referral systems are premium. Offering incentives to introduce a friend is a great pull as is offering discounts for multiple household pets.
- 9. First-time discounts to encourage customers to try your services.
- 10. Add a personal touch by sending birthday cards on the date of your pets in care.
- 11. Ask to defer supplier payments and pay over a period of time for any bills helping your cashflow.
- 12. Take advantage of any free offers or discounts offered and do ask for discounts.
- 13. Ensure you list your business in online local listings, article below provides those most effective.
\\\ Local Pet Business Adverts
One of the keys for local businesses is being seen locally whether you’re a local pet store, dog walker, pet sitting business, local kennels. If your market relies upon local custom it’s essential to get out there and be visual.
- Local Online Listings such as Google Local Business is essential to sign up, it’s free and takes just a few minutes of your time and can provide customers with a Google map location, website link, call link, email link, pictures and more of your business. As you grow you can add to the listing and you’ll find this will help your online web listing to rise in the ever important search engine Google rankings.
- Local Reviews are important, Yell.com is the big, free business local listing site in the UK. Both easy to sign up to and where customers can leave reviews about your business everyday, helping you to go grow particularly by local referrals, really helpful at the start of your business.
- You may have already have a personal Facebook account, so extend your time to engage with Local Facebook blog groups and Local Facebook Marketplace. This is for small local businesses looking for visibility, but take caution not to overspend on any advertising being offered.
Use smaller search engines such as Bing and claim your listing, and completing your profile and verifying will help additional traffic find you locally.
Remember to add the social icons onto your website.
Depending on the amount of time and energy you have to commit to your social media objectives there are more additions that you can add, such as Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest. These are national, international, and global sites that will need more regular attention and commitment to achieve local results. Consider carefully the markets you want to follow.
\\\ National Pet Events
National And Local Pet Marketing Events
Depending on whether your pet business is a local or national business, pet events can provide a perfect business and marketing opportunity to get seen. Your business can organise events and raise awareness using social media platforms and get noticed by the pet community. Making up a quarterly schedule as a new business is ideal and provides you with clear marketing objectives.
- Selection of Pet National Event Dates
- 23 February International Dog Appreciation Day
- 14 March Pet Theft Awareness day
- 14-21 March Pet Theft Awareness Week
- 1-7 April International Pooper Scooper Week; National Raw Feeding Week
- 25 April International Guide Dog Day
- 14 May International Chihuahua Appreciation Day
- 9 June World Pet Memorial Day
- 26 June Take Your Dog to Work Day
- 15-18 July Crufts International Dog Show (cancelled)
- 8 August International Cat Day
- 10-23 August RAW Rabbit Awareness Week
- 17 August International Homeless Animals Day
- 26 August International Dog Day
- 28 September World Rabies Day
- 28 September World’s Largest Pet Walk
- 4 October World Animal Day, World Pets Day
- 17/18 October Discover Dogs London consumer event
- November Gun Dog Theft Awareness Week
- Marketing Best Tips
- Set aside sometime each day for marketing your pet business.
- Be organised! This pays off to keep constant visibility of your business in the local community which at peak times may even mean you have to start operating waiting lists.
- Keep your accounts up to date, create a small office area.
- Always follow up all leads whether verbal referrals, messaging, or calls.
- Don’t skimp, get insured.
\\\ Pet Business Compliance
What legal compliance does one need to start a pet business?
Depending on the type of business start-up you wish to set up depends on the compliance requirements. The most usual being DBS checked, Dog walking licence, Dog breeding Licence, HMRC registered.
Dog Walking Licence
Dog walkers are required in some cities to obtain dog walking licences to enter local parks and Royal parks.
Dog walkers are those who take payment for care, kennelling, transport, or exercise of a dog or dogs who are taken to a park or open space applying such charges.
Public Space Protection Orders, PSPO’s operate to protect the number of dog handlers and dogs being walked in open spaces. Large numbers of dogs being walked increase the number of accidents.
Licence costs can vary ranging sometimes between £175 to £300 and where the council provides highly visible armbands to the dog walkers to be worn when in their locations.
When working with animal-related jobs, a basic Disclosure and Barring Service check, known as a basic DBS check is necessary for example, dog walkers, pet sitters, boarding kennel owners, and therapy handlers who accompany animals into hospitals and hospice visits. An application can be made online providing necessary ID records and a small fee.
Dog Breeding Licence
The Act requires breeders to breed more than three litters in twelve months and breeding dogs and selling dogs as a business must conform.
Most councils operate licences where breeders have to conform to set standards The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.
The Act requires breeders to breed more than three litters in a twelve-month period and breeding dogs and selling dogs as a business must conform to obtaining their licence for a year, two, or three after being assessed. Information is available on local council websites.
Owning a pet business will mean you need to register with HMRC when setting up a business as a self-employed person (or if a limited company if necessary). It’s important to register at the time and keep all receipts obtained in the course of setting -up and running your business matters. HMRC has handy compliance tips on its website for those registering as self-employed.
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\\\ Pet Business Insurance
Specialist Pet Business Liability Insurance
Pet businesses are thriving and to ensure all owners, pets, and customers are kept safe, Pet Business Liability is a must.
Typical insurance is needed for those running
- Therapy dogs and pets making visits made to schools, nursing and retirement homes.
- Dog Walking, home boarding and pet grooming.
- Pet events.
- Dog and Pets liability insurance in the place of work.
- Dog Grooming
- Home Boarding
- Pet Sitting
- Dog Training
- Dog Kennels
- Dog Clubs and Societies
- Pet Taxi Services
- Pet Microchipping
Who Are The Specialist Pet Business Insurers?
Policies can, of course, be taken out in one annual payment, but if starting up your business, look to spread business costs by monthly payments easing cash flow.
Being more specialised insurance, there are fewer pet insurers and not the more popular names linked to domestic policies.
Simply Business work with a number of pet business insurance providers. You’ll need to answer some questions to obtain quotes and a comparison of the best prices.
Compare The Market comparison site offers pet business insurance comparisons as does Heath Crawford, and other well-known pet insurance providers such as Bought by Many, Towergate.
Specialist Pet Business Insurance For Dog Walking Businesses
Customers will want to see evidence of your public liability insurance before despatching their beloved pets into your care if, for example, your business is dog walking.
A policy that covers not just dog walking but dog/pet sitting, home boarding, dog/pet grooming, and dog/pet taxi service is important to consider when setting up your insurance cover.
- Your policy should also cover Care, Custody, and Control should an animal get injured, lost, or killed and the essential Lost Key Cover as you would be handling several customers’ property keys.
- Insurance policies may limit the number of dogs you can handle in open space at any one time.
- Policies that include equipment cover at no further cost are useful, however, it is essential to appraise your equipment cost to replace in case of an accident and upgrade your plan accordingly.
- Your policy should also cover pet pick up and drop off
- There ideally should be no excess to pay for vet fees, death, or loss by theft or straying except when the pet is in transit.
- Professional Indemnity and Personal Accident options are also important considerations and ensuring vet bills may be covered if the injury has been caused whilst in your care.
Pet Professional Modelling Insurance
Pets would be classed as ‘working pets’ and owners would be advised to have Pet Public Liability insurance in place to cover unfortunate accidents and injury, not just to the pet or yourself as handler but if any person is injured by your pet or damage and you are held liable.
Even the pets with the most placid temperaments can become distressed and bolt, being completely out of character. It is all these types of unforeseen circumstances that have to be considered.
The different types of the breed (other than banned dogs in the UK) can be insured.
If you and your pet are suddenly asked to undertake international travel for work, then appropriate ‘bolt-on’ insurance plans can be added to your business policy, or for any other peculiarities that may suddenly arise requested by a client that your pet is asked to undertake.
Taking Pets To Work
I Want To Take My Dog To Work. Is There Anything I Need To Know?
It is very well publicised that pets in the workplace can have a therapeutic effect on the working environment. They aren’t at home bored or finding mischief when you’re not there and dogs get exercise to and from the workplace.
Your boss should check that all staff is in agreement that your pet can accompany you to work, being a fully trained and socialised dog. There may be colleagues who have allergies or are frightened of dogs and these hurdles need to be overcome beforehand.
You will likely have to show evidence of having Public Liability Insurance in place.
Not all insurance companies cover dogs in the workplace and you may have to seek an add-on to your existing policy.
Specialist insurance brokers can offer a specialist liability insurance policy for individuals taking dogs into an office during the working day. The cost can start at under £100.00.
The alternatives can be to work more from home if your business lets you –
- employ a dog walker that takes care of your pet’s needs during the day when busy.
- sign up to the new doggy daycare centres springing up over the UK, run on very similar lines to children’s nurseries, where owners drop off their charges and pick up later in the day knowing that their pet has been managed during the day, with play, rest and food, and water.
\\\ Keeping Business Records
Small Business Record Keeping
Small businesses need to keep records. With so many apps available today for banking, invoicing, and record-keeping it may be difficult to decide which one to use. Look for those that will store your records safely for up to 7 years.
Records must be kept for HMRC tax liabilities, preparing tax returns and future audits so they must be properly stored.
Tax and employment tax records need to be retained for six years. Most companies keep records for 7 years.
Financial records include bank statements, credit card statements, paid invoices, cash receipts, and cancelled cheques. Accountants recommend that these are kept for 7 years. Physical paper receipts can pile up and a dedicated safe space is needed.
Insurance Providers can ask business customers to retain documents for up to 40 years. Check carefully.
Communication records most companies are actually legally obliged to keep their communication records, especially in the industries dealing with sensitive information such as the healthcare industry, the financial industry, and the education sector. Smaller pet businesses should seek legal advice as to their specific obligations if any.
HR Records include tax records, current, and former employees as well as non-hired applicants, job applicants, resumes, job descriptions, performance reviews, and other files. These should be retained for 7 years. Matters concerning industrial accidents should be retained longer and if compensation paid, ten years after. Discrimination filings should also be retained. Take professional advice on time to retain these.
General Records the 7-year rule is general. However, there are times when this simply doesn’t apply such as your business facing litigation claims when it’s best to retain all records and not dispose of them.
Today there are various tools available to help store records digitally and completely remove unnecessary data after the set retention period.
Events planned during 2020-2021 have led to numerous new innovative ways by management teams for their eventers to reach targeted audiences.
PATSHOW PATS is the UK’s No 1 TRADE pet event showcasing all that’s new in the pet industry. PATS has been forced to introduce webinars over two/ three months for trade and industry to get together. Start-ups can join online, simply register your business details. Scheduled for 2022.
The Supreme Cat Show is organized every year by the world’s oldest cat registry, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, and takes place each November at the National Exhibition Centre, in Birmingham, England. 2022 may be scheduled for May.