If you love animals and have a desire to ditch the 9-5 for something more flexible, starting a dog walking business may seem the perfect solution. However, it’s important to research everything you need to know about the dog walking industry and relevant steps you have to take to start a dog walking business on the right foot. If you’re ready to begin your own business , then this guide should help takre you through the essential first steps to making your business goals achievable.

Is Starting a Dog Walking Business Worth It?

During the pandemic, when home working was the norm, many people invested in pets, particulartly dogs, to help make life more enjoyable. These days, some companies still provide work from home contracts as they have seen the benefit of providing employees with a better work/life balance. However, other businesses have demanded staff go back to the office, or resume a hybrid role. With this in mind, there are a lot of pet owners that may be looking to have their pets walked, so that they can handle the work/life balance more effectively.

Craft A Robust Business Plan

The first step to take when you mean to start a dog walking business is to create a plan that effectively sets out how your business will run.

Picking The Perfect Name

Choose a name that effectively sets out what you do, but don’t forget to make it unique. You could use part of your own name, and this may make it easier to buy a website domain that suits your company name. It is vital to make sure the name is not already being used, however, as this could lead to problems later down the line. Specialist companies such as Company Formations can help with forming a legal identity, and can help you get set up properly.

Set Clear Goals

Establish both short-term (6-12 months) and long-term (5 years) objectives to maintain a clear vision as to where you want your business to go. It’s important to ensure you set boundaries and targets that have some measurable indicators as to how your business is faring. Setting smaller goals throughout your business journey can help you remain motivated and celebrating each one will ensure your enthusiasm doesn’t wane.

What Are Others Doing?

Make sure to look at your competitors to see what they’re doing well, and less well. You may see a gap in the market, or you may be able to offer similar services alongside dog walking that you may not have considered before. Look at what reviews about them say, that way you will know what customers rate about their services.

Whose Dogs Do You Want To Walk?

Identifying where you set your walking boundaries will limit your target market. This is not a bad thing, but you need to make sure there are enough customers within the area to keep you going. You may be able to target the whole area, or break your target market down to busy executives, elderly pet owners or even dog boarders who don’t have time to walk their own pets.

Follow The Money

To have a profitable business, you need to keep track of your costs. It’s essential to consider the costs of petrol (if you drive to clients) as well as the smaller things, such as treats and poop bags. These small costs all add up.

Tailor Your Services And Set Your Price Tag

Consider offering various levels of service, such as group walks, one to one, and even drop in and feeding services. Make sure to consider your experience when setting your prices, and offer additional added services (at a cost) wherever you identify that there is a need for them.

Draw Attention With Advertising

There are plenty of options for free advertising on social media, but you may find a leaflet door drop a cost-effective way of making your mark on the local dog owners. Not everyone is on social media, so make sure you cover all bases.

Accounts And Taxes

Register yourself as an independent dog walker through the government self-employment portal. You will be issued with a Unique Tax Number which you will use when submitting tax returns. If you’re a sole trader, you can find information on what accounts you need to keep and how to submit tax returns on the Government’s website. Additionally, if you’re unsure on any aspect of accounts or taxes, contact a professional to help you.

Get The Necessary Equipment

Remember all those costs you identified? It’s time to buy all your equipment, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth for you to do so. Dog walkers tend to have low overheads, but you need poop bags, treats and maybe a few different leads. You may even be able to negotiate a trade discount with a local supplier.

Safeguard Your Business With Insurance

Insurance for dog walkers is essential. Not only should you ensure you have car insurance that covers business use, but you will need public liability insurance in case something goes wrong with one of the dogs you’re walking. There are specific insurance policies available for dog walkers, so make sure you look into this.

Marketing Tactics

Although not everyone is online, establish an online presence with a website detailing your qualifications, services, prices, and the areas you can work in. Showcase your dog-walking services with social media videos and share insights on your preferred products as well as the techniques you use and the walks you love. Don’t forget to feature testimonials from happy clients too, and respond to any online queries in a timely manner.

By following these steps, you can confidently start your dog walking business, but if you need further guidance and support, feel free to connect with us at Your Company Formations. We're here to assist you in taking that exciting first step and ensuring your business rests on a solid legal foundation.

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