Have you ever thought it would be fun and exciting to own your own pet shop business? If so, you’re not alone. With the explosion of pet ownership in the US and abroad, more and more pet shop businesses are springing up around the country.
And many of these are speciality shops such as all-natural stores that only sell organic pet supplies, as more pet owners look to provide natural products to their beloved animals.
According to recent surveys, almost 40% of US households have at least one dog in residence, and almost 35% own at least one cat. This is a huge market, and many pet owners would prefer to buy from a smaller, local pet shop rather than one of the big mega big-box pet stores like Petsmart.
Some advantages to owning a pet shop business
You’ll get to spend your work days providing for the health and welfare of dogs, cats, and other small animals. What could be more rewarding? You’ll get the freedom and satisfaction of being your own boss.
If you’ve staffed your pet shop properly, you’ll have the ability to set your own work schedule, and even spend much of your work day at home if you want, giving you more time for your family or other commitments.
You’ll be part of the ever-expanding US pet industry, which is only expected to grow over the coming years. And more and more pet owners are willing to spend extra on luxury items and healthy alternative foods and treats for their beloved pets.
You could expand your business by adding a pet bakery, or pet sitting or doggie daycare services. The only limits are your local market and your imagination.
Some of the challenges with this type of business
A pet shop typically incurs more start-up costs than other types of pet-related businesses. You’ll have to stock the shelves with pet food, treats, toys, cat litter, leashes and collars, and other items. This initial outlay could set you back $100,000 or more, so bear this in mind when considering a pet store as a small business opportunity.
With a pet store, you’ll typically need at least one or two employees in the beginning. Which involves hiring and managing people, and perhaps even letting someone go at some point, so be prepared to be a manager as well as a business owner.
You’ll also be responsible for your own marketing and advertising. At least initially, you’ll have to get the word out in your community about your new business and the services you provide. Then eventually word of mouth should take over as people tell their friends and family, and return to buy more pet products in the future.
Some considerations when opening a pet store
If you’re serious about opening your own pet store, a good idea would be to work in one for a few months to learn the ins and outs of the business. This could either be a paid position, or you could volunteer your time a couple of days per week.
This will also give you a view of the business from the perspective of an employee, which will be valuable experience when it comes time to hire and train employees of your own.
Another first step should be putting together a business plan. There are books available online or at the library that detail the steps involved in preparing a business plan that you can take to the bank or credit union when applying for a small business loan.
You’ll also want to plan ahead financially, and make sure you have enough in savings to pay your living expenses for the first year, as the business is getting off the ground. You’ll also need to find out what type of licensing and permits are required in your area.
In addition to the standard business license and other permits required of all small business, you’ll also have to follow any additional regulations regarding the sale of animals. Animal welfare laws in the US are designed to protect animals, and make sure they’re treated humanely.
Then you’ll have to start looking for a retail location where you can set up your pet shop business. Location, location, location as the old saying goes, and it might be the most important factor in the success (or failure) of your pet store.
You’ll want a visible location that has easy access and parking, is convenient for your potential customers, and has room to expand as your business grows. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the animals that you plan to sell.
This may seem obvious, but owning a dog or cat of your own isn’t the same thing as selling a variety of animals and breeds from a retail location.
The mistake some new pet shop owners make is jumping into the business without first considering how much time will be spent actually tending to the animals in their care. Cages will need to be cleaned out, dogs will have to be exercised, and many times the shop owner will have to do much of this work himself.
So keep these things in mind, have a good plan, work hard, and before you know it you’ll have a successful pet shop business of your own!