When I started my Pet Sitting and Dog Walking business in 1999, I had no prior business training. I had worked for years for other businesses; I showed up for work and collected a paycheck, so being a business owner was all new to me. I would not say I am expert on being a business owner, but here are a few things I have learned along the way

  1. Pet Sitting/Dog walking is a real business. When I started out, I was not thinking of myself as a business owner; I was just doing something to make money. That quickly changed when I got my first large check. If you are charging a competitive rate and treating this like a legitimate business, you can make a living running a pet sitting/dog walking service, no matter the size of your business. To help along the way I have learned to read and educate myself on running a small business; I have found SCORE and the Small Business Administration to be a helpful resources along the way.
  1. It’s OK to say no to a client. You do not have to service everyone that contacts you. I have learned over the years to follow my intuition on this one. Not all clients and their pets will be a good fit for your business, so don’t be afraid to ask the new clients the tough questions about the dogs/cat’s history or behavior. Some people will skirt around the subject or not tell you the whole truth about their pet’s aggressive behavior and this is one of those lessons I wish I could say I never had to deal with.  It’s OK to say no, after meeting the pet, the pet’s environment or the client’s attitude towards you or your team. It is not your responsibility to care for everyone’s pets.
  1. This business is about caring for pets, but it’s also about getting paid. Some clients do not make this easy, and collecting from clients can be frustrating. LeashTime makes the billing process super easy, but I still have to chase a few people to get them to pay.  I found that accepting credit cards has streamlined my billing process and even though I pay a little extra for the convenience, I am OK with that.
  1. Client expectations drive this business, and client expectations are always changing. As new technologies emerge, clients come to expect more from every business they deal with, including ours.  Since I started out in 1999, the Internet, and then cell phones have led clients to expect so much more from us.  What I have learned is that you must be flexible and be willing to change with technology.  How we walk a dog or scoop a litter box has not changed in the last 17 years, but how we communicate with our clients and how we find our clients is different now. Technology continues to change our everyday lives so much, we must be prepared to change the way we do business to keep up with the times.  LeashTime has helped me immensely with this and with each change in the software, I feel that I am meeting my client’s needs and expectations.
  1. Remember why you got into this business in the first place and enjoy it. I started my business because I truly loved to be around pets. My mother used to tell the story of how I wanted to grow up and have puppies, so she was not surprised when I started my business. I know they say you should work on your business and not in your business, but sometimes a little unconditional love and fresh air does the body good. Nothing makes me happier than a few walks with some happy dogs.

Never forget that this business is something you built yourself and you should be proud of being an entrepreneur.

 

Blog Written by:

Jody Smith

Lake Minnetonka Pet Sitters – Owner

LeashTime, LLC – Sales & Support