Hi everyone. Welcome to the HobbyistCue.com. We’re going to be learning everything you need to know about starting your dog walking business. I’m going from the perspective of you are someone who has a passion for dogs. Do you want to start a business walking dogs? But you don’t know where to go business-wise. You don’t know how to go about marketing what you need do you need to do any sort of legal formation of your company. How do you get paid?
What are the best methods and all those other considerations it takes when starting a business? Don’t worry. Thousands of people just like you are in the same boat. We’re going to go through all those steps. Don’t worry, none of it is as difficult as you’re probably thinking. By the end of this post you’ll be charged up you will be informed and empowered with information. Be ready to start your dog walking business.
Starting Your Dog Walking Business
Why do you want to start your business?
The very first step in starting a business is before you start it you need to ask yourself why do you want to do this. You’d be surprised so many people have lots of different reasons for why they want to start a business. Now, obviously why you want to start it.
Now I’m assuming you’re passionate about dogs and animals. As well as looking for a way to make money. You have idle time. You have time when you can be walking dogs. You have a way to get to people’s places so you can go get their dogs, walk them bring them back et cetera.
But still, you have to ask yourself why are you looking to start your own business. Many people look to start their own business because they think it’s an easy road to getting rich or making a lot of money easily. And I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. There is no such thing as easy money especially in starting your own business.
Starting your own business takes a lot of effort and a lot of work. And essentially what has to happen is your passion for the business overcomes all the hard work. You don’t mind working hard because it’s fun and exciting for you. You’ll love going. You love what walking with the dogs and playing with them and you’re OK with the fact that you’re going to have to go drive and get them and maybe one day you have eight appointments the next day you only have two or you have none. Or maybe you have to drive an extra five miles to get to the next appointment because they’re a little bit further.
Whatever the case might be your passion for the business surmounts the or any inconveniences that you feel. The other thing you have to consider is you are going to have to do some things besides just walking dogs are going to have to handle the business side of the business.
Things like marketing getting out there promoting the business doing a little bit of accounting depending on how big your operation is. It might not be a big deal but if you’re doing a high volume of dog walking, it’s essentially a business that you need to keep track of your records, etc. daily.
As well your expenses are going to have expenses like travel expenses, your auto, your gas tracking your mileage. There’s the whole business side to having any business. And as goes the same for dog walking business.
I encourage you if you’re only in this for the money and you think it’s going to be easy to Think again. That’s not the case. If you’re in this because you’re passionate about animals you love what you do you want to walk dogs. Then you came to the right place. Your head’s in the right place. And I’m excited for you. That said as long as you’re honest with yourself and you’re in it for the right reasons.
What name will you choose?
The next step and starting your business are thinking up a name. This is part of the fun part of starting a business. You want to put a lot of thought into it for a couple of reasons. You want something catchy. You want to stand out from your competition.
I would encourage you to look at your competition, see what kind of names they’re using and it might be something simple, I mean maybe it’s just Jane’s dog walking business or maybe it’s something, far more elaborate, something funny or they catch on a twist on words, whatever it might be. I’m not here to tell you what to name your business, just that you should put some thought into it. Because once you name it they’re going to use that to brand your business.
All of your marketing is going to be revolving around it. We want to make sure it’s something that you’re proud of you to feel comfortable talking to people about, no weird connotations anything like that. Put some thought into your business name. And again, it might be as simple as just you walked out like if you’re only doing this maybe on a part-time basis your student, you’re in high school right now. and you just want to walk dogs in your neighborhood.
you probably don’t have to go through all the steps of setting up a company and do accounting etc. But on the flip side, there’s plenty of people these days, who do dog walking on a full-time basis and they do take it seriously in the sense that they set up a company. the bank accounts the accounting etc. And part of that as well would be coming up with a company name so I encourage you to think it through.
a lot of times people seem to fall into two categories. They either have one idea for a name and they’re just they’re ready to go. They’ve already got the name and that’s great. if you like it and it’s appropriate and perfect. Then there’s the other group for people who can’t decide they either have too many ideas or no ideas. They just can’t come up with a catchy name. They maybe have a few ideas, maybe their friends are pitching ideas for names and nothing’s seeming to stick.
I would encourage you to just give it a bit more time. even if it’s just two-three more days think it through. Put yourself in a different situation. Now if you feel stagnant like you’re just at home or you say you’re at another job or you’re at school and you just can’t come up with a great name. Try something different, go somewhere else. Go to a park go to the dog park and think about what kind of names.
What I would ask or ask different people or ask strangers even you might run into somebody creative. There are lots of ways to come up with a name beside you just sitting there trying to come up with one off the top of your head. Put some thought into it. You want to be something you’re proud of, you are excited about and that’s going to be your brand as well.
Do you need to start a formal company?
The next part of this lecture we talk about do you need to start a formal company. Just so and I’m assuming you may or may not know much about companies. They typically have to decide on a name. which we talked about at the top. Then you have to decide what sort of company you are going to be. Now there are several types of company structures. Some probably wouldn’t apply so much to dog walking business.
The very first one is just called a sole proprietorship and that’s where it’s just you. You run the business and the benefit to that is you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to find the paperwork. You just decide you go by a name or whatever it is x y z dog walkers. That’s your business. You’re not setting up a formal company.
The downside to this is you’re not going to be able to open up bank accounts in your company’s name or anything else. You’re just operating as yourself. And then any money that you were in you just would deposit in your account and you’ll have to keep records for that. The downside to that though is there’s no sort of legal protection if you will for your business.
Let’s say, Now, again we’re talking about a dog walking business we’re not talking about a multimillion-dollar corporation. You have to weigh the pros and cons. Being a sole proprietor has no legal protection. If somebody decided to sue you, they’re not using the business they’re suing you personally and they could go after all of your assets. If you own a car, you own a home, you own anything.
your savings et cetera they could go for that. Now I can’t think of too many situations where you’re in a dog walking business and you get into a multimillionaire thousands of dollars type of lawsuit. There’s not much you could do. But some things would happen if and these are horrible things to think about what would happen if some of these dogs broke free and you lost their dog and they wanted to see you. Now they’re suing you personally.
That’s one downside to being a sole proprietorship. It’s cheap because it’s free to set up. After all, there is no setup. The downside is there’s no sort of legal protection.
limited liability corporation
The next step up from that would be something like a limited liability corporation. Now there are a few different twists on it. You can inter partnership if you have a partner that you are buying and assume it’s just you working for yourself.
A limited liability corporation would probably be my recommendation. Now I’m not a lawyer so I can legally advise you, but personally if I was to start a business like I have a consulting business. Most sort of single person type of businesses would set up a limited liability company or corporation.
Now, why do you do that? Fear first the few pros. One there is legal protection now. So, now you have a business though x y z dog walkers is an actual entity it’s a company. If somebody was to sue you. They’re technically not suing you. They’re suing the business. And they can only sue for the business’s assets.
Money that the business has in the bag. If you have vehicles under the business name which you probably might not etc. They can only go after the business. That’s a pro. You are protected.
The biggest con is it’s going to cost even in money. It’s going to cost a couple of hundred dollars to get it set up. There are lots of ways to set up a company. You can go anywhere from doing it yourself. And honestly guys it’s not that difficult. If you go on to your state’s sort of government business web site look for how to set up LLC which is a limited liability corporation. Download the paperwork. There’s a bit of it and if you’ve never done it before you might feel uncomfortable with it.
On the flip side though if you are comfortable with it and I set up my own very first LLC and ever since then any companies I’ve formed I’ve done myself I can tell you. But if you don’t feel comfortable with it there are fairly cheap services. Web sites like Legal Zoom are the only one that comes to mind. I know there are a few similar sites, where they provide a sort of legal advice and legal services are fairly cheap. One of the services they will provide is setting up an LLC.
You’re going to pay them to say roughly $100 to set up your LLC but they will prompt you. They will ask you all the questions it’s all done online. You don’t have to talk to anyone they’ll ask you things like what’s your company name what’s your address. You’re going to use your phone number. how many employees all that type of stuff.
They will then take care of filing all the appropriate paperwork with the state. And when it’s all filed and approved usually takes a week at most. You’ll get all your official documents in the mail and congratulations you have a company.
Speaking of costs even if you were to do it yourself. Every state has their fees that you would need to pay. Now it varies by state. I would say count on paying in the area of 100 to 200 dollars to set up an LLC and that’s just a guess. Then on top of that, if you pay someone like Legal Zoom to help you out, you’re going to pay about another hundred dollars.
You’re looking at somewhere possibly in the neighborhood of $300 your business. the good news is that this is pretty much the only expense you’re going to have to incur to get your business going. Next, we’ll talk about marketing. I mean you can certainly dump money into marketing but you don’t have to. And I would say most likely. Don’t need to in the early stages.
All have said guys go and google sole proprietorships Google LLC is my recommendation only for you is an LLC if you’re going to take it seriously enough we’re going to be doing it consistently and investing your time and investing your time right now reading this post. I’d encourage you to go about it the right way and set up some type of corporation. There’s just a lot of benefits for the little bit of downfall of the little bit of cost upfront.
Do you need a company bank account?
Next is a bank account, eventually, you’re going to be earning money. Congratulations. A lot of times people get confused like well do I have to set up a company bank account. Well, the answer is No. You don’t have to.
There’s no reason you have to. But let’s talk about a little bit. First of all, in our previous section, we talked about a sole proprietorship and an LLC. If you are a sole proprietor you can’t set up a bank account in a company name. To set up a bank account and a company name you need to officially legally have established a company. Being a sole proprietor and just calling yourself X Y Z dog walkers, doesn’t make you a company.
You’re still a sole proprietorship. You’re still operating as yourself. In that case, it’s fairly easy you had you would just use your bank account. Now if you want to be somewhat diligent in terms of treating it like a business what I would recommend in that case if you do become a full proprietor is to establish a second bank account.
It’ll be in your name but treat that as a company bank account. All the money that you earn would go in that account and then all of your expenses will come out of it. Let’s make it a lot easier to track if you’re being profitable or not. And it’s nice to see that money. And then when you do want to say withdraw and use that money for your personal use you would physically withdraw it or transfer it to your account.
In that regard, it’s sometimes a lot easier too if you have a bank account to buy accounts at the same bank. Your bank account says at Bank of America. Royal Bank wherever you are in the world. whatever bank it is just open a second bank account with the same bank.
Now if you did form a limited liability corporation or any other type of corporation. We didn’t get into the different types, only because they tend to get more complicated and more expensive, and I don’t see too much of a need for this type of business to have something more complex.
Say you’ve formed an LLC limited liability corporation. With those papers that you will see even in the mail which is sort of the stamped approved, your limited liability corporation is in existence. You could also have something called Articles of Incorporation and bylaws.
Don’t worry too much about what they are. It’s just more paperwork that goes with kind of the rules that your company operates by. And just formally establishes your company. You would take those to the bank or set it up online and you’ll have to mail these in and you show them and they will set up a bank account in the name XYZ the dog walkers and you would just be one of the people on the bank account.
The pro that there’s a bit of cachet to having a company bank account. Again, you could have people. write checks to the company names to say but some people pay by check they would write to exercise the dog walkers. If you have a sole proprietorship. you don’t want that that’s something I need to mention they need to be right on the money or the checks out to you personally.
We’re going to get to talking about the ways people pay you later. But first things like setting up a sort of mobile payments or something like Pay Pal or swipe or square. These are all payment services if you’re not familiar with them or we’ll talk about them more on the payment section.
But there are ways people can pay with your credit card you hook up a reader to your phone a credit card reader. Swipe their card and the money would go into your bank account. It’s a little bit more formal and sort of professional if you will if you have a corporate or corporate company bank account that you can link those to.
That’s it when it comes to bank accounts. There’s not a lot of benefits either way. I mean a bank account is a bank account. Honestly guys at the end of the day I would say if you’re a sole proprietorship, you’re kind of stuck. But I would open up just a second personal account. If you are a limited liability company, I would go ahead and open an account.
Keep in mind as well there probably be bank fees. Look so compare different options that you might have. There might be some that offer free small business checking, get a debit card so you can pay for any expenses that you have. maybe your gas going to and from all your appointments et cetera. So, things to consider. But the long story short, No, you don’t need a company bank account but there are reasons that you may want to.
What hours will you keep?
Next on our trek to set up our business, we need to think about our business hours. when we operate our business. these are little things that you may not have thought about. You decide that you want to start a dog walking business and want to learn what it takes and we’re learning that today.
There are lots of little things that come up. Like this one what hours will you keep? Now I can’t tell you obviously because everybody’s situation is unique. If you’re doing this on a part-time basis maybe you are a student. You have to work around your school schedule.
If this is your full-time job, maybe you’re looking for something that you can do has flexible hours you can kind of work for yourself. Than perfect dog, while it’s perfect but you have to set your hours. In a situation like that where you kind of have all the freedom and you get to set your hours. I would encourage you to try to maintain some type of regular schedule like 8 to 5. Or if that’s your cup of tea maybe noon to 8:00 at night. maybe five days a week.
Try to set some regimen a schedule. You’ll find you’ll get very burned. out if you just let people tell you when you should walk their dogs and you have an appointment at 7:00 a.m. you have one at 9:00 p.m. You have a bunch spread throughout the day. Your entire day is taken over now.
You don’t have time to fit anything else in between. As well as if you leave yourself open to working seven days a week. You’re going to burn out over time. And I’ve seen that this comes first hand. I have a friend who runs a different type of business. But it’s a smaller business.
I would say similar to a dog walking business but she just works. Any free moment she has she considers herself available to work. But she has no time for social life, no time to go enjoy, the money that she is making, and just burned out. Like how many times have I heard from her did in the past, how she just wishes the point would cancel Cetera.
That’s not the way you want to be with your business. You want to be excited about it. Think about setting a set schedule that you adhere to. Tailor it to what works best with your schedule. You might also have to consider what works best with your clients.
maybe a lot of your clients do want their dogs to walk during the day because that’s when they’re at work and they want you to come about noon. The dog gets a break it’s stuck in the house all day etc. Whatever the case might be, everybody’s situation is unique. But I encourage you to just really think about your schedule what you’re going to keep and kind of try to set that in stone.
Marketing & The Market
Who is your target market?
Next, you have to think about who is your target market. It’s getting pretty serious right? I don’t know. Hopefully, you’re realizing there’s a lot that goes into starting a business and thinking through these decisions. Who is your target market? It’s one thing to is say what I like watching dogs. I know that it’s popular like there are enough dogs in the neighborhood that I can make a business of it.
I have people that ask me to walk their dogs and they offer to pay me whatever the case might be. that there’s money in it. But now you need to think about it. Who’s your target market.
First of all, how far are you willing to go or are you only looking at the work in your neighborhood or are you willing to drive 15 miles to walk some of these dogs if the money is right. So, you need to think about those things. First of all, geographically how far are you willing to go.
What’s your target market there is that a five-mile radius 10 20. That’s. I don’t imagine that’s too much further because that’s you’re probably getting past the point of return. Where it’s like you’re spending more time driving there and back than you are spending walking their dogs and the money is just not worth it.
Keep that in consideration as well. In terms of who is your target market is it people who are at work all day and you want to propose Hey I could come around noon. it’s so I have access to your house or your backyard could walk your dogs for half an hour or whatever is appropriate and go from there. Or is it people who travel a lot. Maybe your market to them.
Or maybe it’s people who like going out in the evenings. they have a busy social life and you’ll say hey, come walk the dog at 8:00. Just so the dog gets out because you’re going to be out late at night.
Really just side and it doesn’t just have to be one of those that could be all three of those, it could be that those that set your pick kind of who your target market is? Now that’s also going to tie into the hours you thought about keeping right. If you’re thinking about working more daytime’s know mid-morning to late afternoon, you’re probably Turkey targeting then the professionals who want to come to walk their dogs during the day while they’re at work.
And that’s not a bad market honestly quite. That sounds quite appealing honestly. There’s going to have to be a level of trust as well you’re going to have to have access to their dogs. I’m assuming that most people want someone to walk their dogs because they’re not available to do so.
There’s probably a small part of the market who just doesn’t want to walk their dogs they’re super busy they might be home but they just don’t have the time they’re busy cooking maybe they have two kids as well. Husbands of work. Whatever the case might be they just don’t have time to walk their dogs.
But they feel bad and they want somebody to do that so you are going over there while they’re home. But then there’s that subsect who are just busy and they’re out. And I would expect that to be a fairly large portion of your market.
Start thinking those things through. Who do you want to target because that’s also going to tie into your marketing plan? Think about the typical type of client that you’re envisioning having. And then as well how far of a geographic reach you’re willing to reach out to.
Doing Market Research
Next is doing some market research. Once you think through those decisions like how far you’re willing to go? Who are you looking at a target? Do a bit of market research. Get online just spend time look at other dog walkers. Look at how they market themselves? How do like what sort of things do they say? Do they say will only go within five miles of my house 10 miles etc. that’s our only work these hours. Then it’s well just be looking for other people who are looking for a way to walk their dogs.
Say you decide you’re willing to drive up to 10 miles in circumference around from where you live and you’re willing to work 9 to 6 p.m. Just Google see if you can find anyone in your area who is physically asking, hey I need somewhere to walk my dog. Now there are lots of places you could do this you could look I would look at a lot of the free forums. Depending completely on where you live.
But look on somewhere like Craigslist people offering services and people requesting services. See how much others see what type of competition you have as well you’re going to be looking at this as part of your market research. How much are they charging? what sort of service locations do they have? What hours do they work? And then on the flip side look for people who are looking for dog walkers and what are they saying?
Are they saying only willing to pay X amount of dollars need somebody three times a day? Whatever the case might be that’ll help you structure what your business is going to look like as well. Then as well so besides sites like Craigslist, which are online sort of classifieds if you will which are free you can also look at sites like next door.
Depending on where you live next door is a social networking site for a neighborhood. You would find people in your neighborhood and that would sort of a free tip to you if you’re not familiar with next door. Check it out for sure. It’s a great way for people to market themselves in the neighborhood.
For example, I needed somebody to paint my fence last year homeowner’s association requested it needs to be done. House is 10 years old. I just looked on next door and I found people who were recommending saying hey this guy did my fence he was great. I definitely should call him. I call them and I use them as prices for that.
He’s getting business just through referrals at this point on next door. That’s definitely along the same lines as yourself where you’re probably looking to work in your geographic area. And if you can get referrals to get a few happy customers who are willing to recommend you that is going to be part of your marketing strategy.
Hop online do some market research see what other people are charging how far they’re willing to drive what their terms are. See what people are looking for. And that’ll all be part of your market research as well.
Will you spend money on Marketing?
The next consideration. A lot of considerations when it comes to starting a business is will you spend money on marketing. Now I referenced this a little bit earlier in the post. You don’t have to. If you have money to spend on marketing, you’ve saved up money to start this business. I don’t discourage you from doing that but I do encourage you to spend it wisely and well talk about that in a second.
If you don’t have money to do it or you just don’t want to spend money on marketing that’s quite OK. What I would encourage you to do in those cases is look at free marketing avenues. Things like I mentioned the top. Look on Web sites like next door promote yourself hey guys I’m starting a dog walking business. I live in the area. If anybody needs their dog walk I work these hours.
Same thing with Craigslist. Promote yourself for FREE. Social Media Marketing as well is huge. And you can harness the power of it if you do it correctly. Things like setting up a Facebook page for your dog walking business. You don’t need to have a formal company to give it a name. XYZ, dog walking company you’re still a sole proprietorship from a legal perspective the people don’t care. They don’t care if you’re a corporation or a sole proprietor.
But if they see XYZ dog walking company, you put up pictures of your dogs, pictures of you walking dogs, talked about your business. Reach out join the other dog walking groups for roach or business. That’s all free. It just takes time.
Instagram is another way and it’s growing. Honestly, guys way to promote your business. Again pictures of dogs you walking dogs talking about your business connecting with other dog walkers et cetera that will pay off over time. Now it takes a while. That doesn’t happen overnight but you need to build up the business. And then you have other avenues as well. Create a LinkedIn page have a snapshot. send an offer to send dog owners pictures of their dogs as they’re walking them.
All of these things add up. Look into free avenues. Now if you do have the money you’re going to have to consider how to pay or where to spend it. There are so many ways to spend money on marketing that don’t pay off. Things like Google ads or Facebook ads sound great you write a catchy ad it’s going to reach thousands and tens of thousands of people. The reality is those guys those ads just don’t have a huge payoff unless they’re very carefully scripted.
You want to be careful. If you’re going to do that. I would encourage you to do a test run. Just spend a little bit of money on marketing and get it out there. The other thing you could do and I would encourage this moreover spending a ton of money on Facebook and Google ads is this set up a Web site. It doesn’t cost much and honestly, there are free templates out there it’s as easy as can go to a hosting company like Go Daddy is very popular. I use them for any web site I’ve created in the last 20 years.
you pay for your domain you’re talking like maybe 10 bucks a year maybe 20 tops. And then for hosting to use one of their templates maybe another 20 bucks $50 at most, you’re spending a hundred dollars and that would be like if you also got a custom e-mail address and included a check out on your website so people can pay you through your Web site. How cool would that be?
Look into that set up your web site just adds a whole new level of professionalism to your business. Now when you’re out promoting your business you say hey check us out at XYZ dog walkers dot com. somebody is probably going to check that out. You stand out a lot more and more competition when you have your web site it just adds legitimacy to your business guys.
I encourage you to set up a Web site. Make a professional doesn’t have to be overbearing there’s to a lot on there you can just talk about who you are. Your passion for animals what hours you keep. how far you want to travel. And that’s about it. And a way for them to contact you and then links to your social media pages which are free. That’s what I consider for all of your marketing efforts.
Accounting and Money
How much will you charge?
We’re going to move into more of the money situation and things like pricing etc. The first thing we’re going to talk about is how much should you charge. Now I’m not a dog walking business expert. I’m more of a general business expert. I know how to help people start their businesses and ask them the right questions.
In terms of how much should you charge. I honestly can’t tell you. What I can tell you is we already did some market research. You should have a pretty good idea of what other people are charging. You already have a sense as well of are you walking a dog for 15 minutes or are you watching them for a half-hour. Do people add on a service charge if they have to drive?
five miles ten miles away etc. Do you have to bring your equipment like leashes et cetera whatever the case might be? You have the best of what you can charge. Now obviously for pricing, you need to be competitive with other people. There are certainly Web sites out there and I did a little look at a few of them where there are dog walking websites. Where you can join a community. Where you can be a little bit more about that in the post That’s coming up.
But you need to look at their pricing as well because there’s a sort of a bit of credibility that goes with that if you’re part of sort of a community of dog walkers versus just being completely on your own. You need to be competitively priced fair with everybody else. And then it’s up to you if you want to go a little bit cheaper to try to get business if you want to go a little bit higher premium pricing is what it’s called.
maybe you offer extra services. You’re willing to not only walk their dogs but groom them to brush them out for 15 minutes. I know personally, that’s something I would be like. OK. Let’s actually kind of nice because I don’t know that’s something I don’t want to do and I’d be willing to pay a little bit extra money to have somebody brush my dogs every day.
Things to think about and you can also think of those in terms of addons if you will. You’ll walk dogs for X amount and you’ll also clip their nails or brush them out or whatever that or play with them as well for 15 minutes after you walk them or beforehand basically make sure they’re worn out.
Whatever the case may be. Make sure your pricing is competitive and fair. And then the other question you have to ask yourself is really to think about are you going to be making enough to sustain the business.
Free accounting software?
In this section, we’re to talking about counting software. It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Like a lot of people this type of business you’re just looking to like, you’ll be able to track your income basically through your bank records. I guess what I’m kind of roundabout getting. You don’t want to overburden yourself with a lot of complicated things like setting up accounting software and tracking every penny might not be for you and that’s fine if it’s not.
But if you’re doing this on sort of a bigger level you find yourself fairly busy or working six or eight hours a day doing it. You have lots of expenses. You’re constantly getting a gap because you’re driving around the places you’re having to track your mileage. You are having to buy dog treats and bring dog treats with you.
You have spare leashes in your car in case there leash is no good. You’d rather use your leash breaks whatever. Maybe you have a portable water container that you bring with you and the dog or whatever it might be you’re going to have expenses related to your business. You could have all those marketing expenses we talked about. Setting up the Web sites that you need a way to track it. If you want to take it completely seriously to you going to have to do that through some type of accounting software.
Now you don’t have to be an accounting wizard to do this. There’s plenty of free accounting software out there. And when I say software it’s more online host companies. There’s several now I believe. Fresh books are still free. And I think one is called Xero. It’s free accounting as well.
Check those out. I have the names or I’ll just google it for free accounting software online. You’ll find different ones to use. Now certainly there are companies like Quick Books. Quick Books has a terrific reputation. They’ve been around for decades and decades. All of my clients use cookbooks and that’s not a lie.
But it’s going to cost you a little bit of money and now they have their online version which is fairly cheap. I think it’s about $20 a month. You have to decide if you’re willing to spend that money invested to keep proper accounting records.
On the flip side if you’re OK with just sort of the money you make goes into that business account or that second personal account the expenses you spend to come out of that personal account. You’re not too worried about tracking it through a formal software then that’s fine. But if you are, I would recommend those few free sites at first or if you want to sort of go to the next level look into something like Quick Books.
Forecast and Budget for your business
In this section, we’re talking about forecasting and budgeting. That we’re getting serious about the business side of it right anyway. And Chris I just wanted to walk dogs and make money and play with dogs and that’s fine.
But I would encourage you if you train this series as a business just invest a little bit of time and at least hear me out about forecasting budgeting. Now in the corporate world forecasting budgeting is a huge part. I do it a lot of times for my clients. What it is, essentially, you’re looking ahead over the next 12 months and say well what’s our income streams?
So far in your situation to be looking at like how many dogs. I think I can walk. What’s my hourly rate or my per dog walk rate? However, you charge if I have addons, what do I think I can do for that. And you would list them out. Now if you’re great in something like Microsoft Excel that’s perfect.
I would recommend you build this in excel. If you’re not, don’t worry. Just write it out on paper. Just say January to December or whatever the next 12 months are. Walking dogs I can do approximately six a day five days a week. Here’s how much I would make out of those two people do add-ons that are worth an extra $20 six days a week whatever the case might be.
I just add that up then you would list out your expenses. The ones I’m thinking of are marketing like setting up your web sites. It would be a onetime expense of maybe other things too like if you do Facebook ads or Google ads say you decide to go down that road, you’re going to have whatever expense for that. And you would budget for that.
You’d have to budget for things like gas for your vehicle. buying all those sorts of dog accessories. If you want extra leashes you want dog treats. Maybe the budget. What I don’t know $50 a month for dog treats maybe 100 I’m not quite sure that’s going to be up to you to figure out. And after you’re done you’ll have what your incoming money is? What your outgoing money is? And how much money you expect to make.
It kind of keeps you honest. It gives you a realistic idea of what the business is worth to you. how much will you be making? And then you can make decisions. Well, should I try to bring in more money or should I try to cut down some of my expenses or do I walk or dogs, do I maybe narrow down my location so I’m not spending as much on gas. Maybe there’s enough of a market closer to home or maybe business is booming.
Maybe you are maxed out and you still have people coming to you. Maybe you hire somebody. I mean that’s an aspiration to have right. Look to hire somebody. you pay them a set amount. maybe they’re in charge of their gas maybe you pay that. You’d have to figure that out and that’s obviously down the road right now we’re just talking about getting set up.
But it’s just good it’s fun to think about those things down the road and where you want to take this business how much you’re willing to invest to get both money wise and personally time-wise effort and things like this like learning about the business. Think about all that. That’s budgeting and forecasting if you have a knack for it. Great. I would highly recommend you think about doing it even if it’s just very roughly and on paper to sort of draft up where you think you’ll be.
How will your customers pay you?
Next consideration guys, there’s a lot of them. How are your customers going to pay for you? Think about that. the last thing you want to do is you get set up and you have this. I mean the best thing that could happen is you just have a lot of customers right away. Right. I guess that’s awesome. Please walk away dog. And you’re like great and they ask you questions like well how much do you charge. You go geez I don’t know I ever thought about well how can I pay you. I don’t know. You need to have the stuff that out.
Speaking of how did they pay you. Here are your options. They can pay with cash. Nice easy if you want to keep it formal and put that money in your business account or your second personal account. They could pay you a check. And I imagine a lot of people would do that although the checksumming family is far less common. Not everybody even has checks anymore especially the younger generation.
What I would recommend too though is some sort of formal way where you could charge a credit card. People would love that. I mentioned in a previous section, services like PayPal or even swipe. I believe it’s swipe or square definitely square pay or sometimes square pay. They have readers. Card readers that you would just plug in your phone to run the software you have to sign up for an account you link it to your bank account and then people give you their card. You type in the amount they swipe it. A sign that with their finger on your phone and you’re off and running.
How awesome is that money is going directly into your bank account? Now, of course, PayPal and square, they keep a little bit of a fee. But for the convenience and for you getting paid guaranteed that money’s in your county now have to wait for checks to clear. It is well worth it plus the amount of business you will get from that because people who would maybe prefer to charge it and maybe a lot of people live off credit cards.
Let’s be honest so and let a dog walking is kind of extra in people’s lives. it’s not a necessity per se so that people can pay with their credit card. They will probably very likely even if they have money they might prefer to pay with their credit cards. You have to offer that to them. Look into those services.
Again there’s typically no fee to set them up to get the reader all of that. But you’re going to pay a small percentage and it might just be like 5 percent to the companies to be able to swipe their cards physically. Aside from those versus those guys I mean what else could there be really. Look into the credit card readers recommend PayPal or Square. Square has to be a little bit more popular and go with those. I recommend them.
Other Business Considerations
Do you need business insurance?
Next consideration does you need business insurance. I would highly recommend that just especially based on the nature of your business. If you think about it from a high level, you’re in charge of taking care of someone’s pet which is a living animal for one probably greatly loved if something was to happen to their pet while in your possession and taking care of it.
You don’t want to be sued. How about that. Things happen, just even I walk my dogs. they might see where I live. We have wild rabbits that run around. Sometimes we’ll be walking along and all of a sudden, my dog will just jerk me completely the other way. And there’s been the occasion where they pull out of their leash or their harness or leash or I know they pull the leash out of my hand. It just happens.
What would somebody like that was to happen and his dog got away. It gets hit by a vehicle. Know we don’t like to think about these things just something bad happens. Another dog runs up and bites their dog or their dog. Maybe it’s a little bit aggressive and gets into a fight with another dog. Maybe you’re just playing with it. They decide to take it to the dog park to wear it out. It gets in a fight. And now somebody is saying hey I’m going to sue you sue the dog owner and the dog owner is going to sue you or however, it might be so. Do you want business assurance? I would say yes.
Now I can’t tell you specifically what to get or where to look best. I would look online when in doubt Google. There are plenty of business insurance companies out there and there are different types of business insurance. One is just a sort of general liability insurance so basically, if anything bad was to happen while you’re in the act of business it would be covered. That’s basically what you’re looking for.
What I would honestly just go google is dog walker business insurance and see what comes up. There’s probably specialized insurance that you can get. Now, this is insurance tends to be fairly cheap. That’s good news. It’s another expense for your business. I know it has cost a little bit of money to get a business up and running properly with all the bells and whistles if you will.
Insurance is just one of those things you pay for it you hope you never use it. It feels like a waste of money. But believe me, if you ever need to use it you are going to be very glad that you have it. I would recommend that you look into business insurance. Just get out there googling. Just ask other people if you’re not sure to ask other dog people that run a dog walking business and see what they do.
Joining A Dog Walking Community
Next, we’ll talk about sort of joining other dog walkers on their dog walker Web site. All of a convoluted. Say, you want to get in the business of walking dogs, but you don’t want to deal with a lot of what I’ve been talking about. You don’t want to have to worry about setting up a Web site. You don’t want to worry so much about getting the insurance. the bank accounts etc. you just really want to walk dogs.
Now there are communities out there and I think there are Web sites. The one I have I looked up was Rover.com. It’s a basic community of people who are willing to walk dogs and they match them with people who need their dog’s walk.
Now, these types of communities exist for any service under the sun. Now I haven’t used a dog walking service but, in the past, they use one that was very similar where it was people who would watch your dogs. Extended over some time. I traveled a lot and went out of town and I didn’t want to I felt bad to bring my dogs to say the pet hotel, because even though they’re nice they play with your dogs. Your dog’s still are locked up for a good part of the day.
This site was an African with the name was but it matched you with other people who were willing to walk your dog. I found the lady there who worked from home. She had one dog. She had a house in a backyard with grass. And she would babysit my dogs basically while I was traveling.
They got to go out in the backyard running around just live in her house basically for a few days or even a week when I’d be traveling. And it was great. I felt so much better about it. And honestly, it was cheaper than bringing them to a dog hotel where they’d be locked up for most of the time. It was great.
A community like that is the same thing is for a dog walker. Where you are paired up with people who are looking for someone to walk their dogs. Now it would certainly be a great way to get your foot in the door and maybe even just to continue that way. There are definitely some benefits to it.
And there’s also a few cons but the benefits being you’re not having to spend all the upfront time building a web site marking yourself all that you would just join the Web site write your profile write an attractive profile talk about passion for dogs pictures of yourself etc.
Price yourself effectively. And then once you’ve got a few customers people have your views and that’s the key to getting good reviews. People will only spur more people to use you. I mean I know too like when I went to the Web site, did I want to use the person who was maybe a bit cheaper but had no reviews or the person who had 30 great reviews and maybe cost $10 more a day.
I was willing to pay the extra $10 a day. That’s really what you want. When you start with a website like that get yourself on there, promote yourself as much as you can and ask your customers to please review like just physically ask them could you please review me. It helps me out etc..
That’s a great way to grow your business so definitely pros to that ease factor getting set up and once you get the business good rolling and you get good reviews you’re set. The cons you’ve got to share some of your money with the Web sites that you’re going to make as much probably because you can’t price yourself anymore higher.
Just because you’re on this Web site if anything you’re really going to have to be competitive now with other people and the Web site itself is probably keeping 10 20 percent to 30 percent, I’m not quite sure of the money.
I believe with the dog sitting it was about 20 percent Say you’re charged, say you’re making $300 a week or maybe you’re saying at $300 a day. I’m not sure how much you’re working but now they’re keeping 10 or 20 percent of that. Now that’s a big chunk out of your money. There’s the tradeoff of it. They helped deliver business directly to you. You’re going to pay them for it. Just keep that in mind. But consider it as an avenue to go. If you don’t want to deal with sort of the business of getting set up in the business of dog walking.
let’s talk a little bit about scheduling. we talked early on in the course about setting your availability. Now one thing to consider as well though is what is scheduling. You can’t always see back our schedule back to back appointments unless they live next door within two minutes of each other. You need to give yourself time. being a dog walker is one of those things where you could easily say you’re going to walk from his dog from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30.
You get back at 10:30. But now you have to at least the dogs maybe talk to the person a little bit. Oh, the dogs did great on their walk, etc. You certainly don’t want to schedule yourself for 10 45 dog walk 15 20 minutes away. You’re just not going to have time.
You need to allow yourself time to breathe in between. Give yourself a little break and as well make sure you have enough of a buffer for those other things. Like you say and talk to the person after or the dogs just take a little bit longer. sometimes that just happens. You walk in the dogs and one decides it’s tired it needs like a little two-minute sit before it.
Keeps walking and I’m talking from experience with my dogs. Things like that can delay you. Schedule yourself effectively. You don’t want to overrun yourself and you’d be much better off in the long run if you can set a schedule that’s maybe a bit more spaced out and you meet all your appointments versus you over-schedule yourself, you’re consistently late, etc. that’s just really bad business. Schedule yourself effectively. Be honest with yourself about how much time you need in between appointments.
Doing the work – walking dogs
Lastly, we haven’t talked much about, but walking dogs. I mean that’s what the business is all about right? Now I’ve purposely not talked much about it because this course is more about setting up the business of being a dog walker. You already know how to walk dogs. I mean I’m assuming that you want to get in this business because your passion for animals and dogs you love watching them love helping people. And you want to make a business out of it.
Walking dogs, I leave that up to you honestly. You have to decide how you run it in terms of how long are you walking them. what paths are you taking them on? When is it too hot out etc.. We’re not going to get into all those decisions because that’s all one that’s very dependent on where you live. The types of customers you have.
It would even be fair for me to even venture a guess as to how you structured the actual dog walking part of your business. I would look to the community look at other dog walkers. Any tips they might have. It’s always great to have mentors. They don’t necessarily have to be alike actual outspoken mentor where this person is my mentor. Just look for people in the community. if you join one of those sites like Rover.com.
look I’m sure they have forums and whatnot where you can talk to other dog walkers and you can ask any questions that you have like maybe in terms of scheduling or how much should I charge or how far should I walk them. what do I do if a dog gets loose the dog gets in a fight. A dog just doesn’t want to walk. all those questions that you might have to get out there, research those, and structured the actual nature of dog walking itself.
What works best for you. At the end of the day though my one bit of advice would have fun. I mean you want to have fun in business and you’re choosing to go into this business because of the passion that you have. Encourage you to not get overwhelmed with the business side of it but instead, look to that’s the bit of work you have to put in upfront. All the business stuff now you get to do what you want to do which is walk dogs and be rewarded for your efforts. I’ll leave you in charge of figuring out the actual dog walking part of the dog walking business.