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The College of Animal Welfare

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15 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Animal Care Business

If you’re working in animal care and looking for more flexible working opportunities, you may have considered starting your own animal care business or becoming self-employed – whether that be as a dog walker, pet sitter, dog groomer or something else.

Whether you’re just beginning to think about starting your own animal care business, or it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a long time; take a look at some of the things you may need to think about before making the leap.

1. Is it right for you?

Becoming self-employed has its benefits. You have more flexibility and control over your work, and the challenge can release a more creative and entrepreneurial side as you build your own business.

However, it’s important to understand the risks of being self-employed too. Your income isn’t guaranteed, and if you go on holiday or can’t work because you’re ill you won’t have an employer to rely on for cover.  What’s more – you will face start-up costs, and growing your new venture may be challenging, especially in the beginning.

2. A company name

You will need to choose a name, and decide what you want that name to do. It could describe what you do, what you stand for, who you are or be more abstract. It’s also worth checking that your name hasn’t already been taken if you’re planning on becoming a limited company, and that there isn’t tons of competition for your business name online.  

3. Company structure

When starting a business, you need to decide what structure works best for you: sole trader, limited company or business partnership? The structure you choose will influence responsibilities such as what paperwork you need to complete and when, the taxes you pay, how you take profit out and what happens if you make a loss.

When you go self-employed, you’re effectively setting up your own business, even if you don’t see it that way. This means that you need to decide on a business structure and tell HMRC that you’re self-employed for tax purposes.

4. Animal care business plan and research

You need make sensible conclusions about your business’ viability and make decisions about how you are going to grow your new venture. You should research your target market and ensure there is demand for the product or service you plan to offer.

Take a look at your competitor activity, and what the demand is like in your area. Understand what your USP is, and ask yourself: how bright is your idea really? This isn’t about creating doubts or being negative, it’s simply about having realistic expectations for success, risk and growth opportunities before you get started.

5. Skills gaps, experience and training

Even if you have a brilliant service or product, you need to be realistic about what skills and training you need to put yourself in the best position to make your new business a success. For example, do you have the digital skills to create an online presence or marketing skills to spread the word generally. Do you have management skills if you’re planning on recruiting members of staff?

Consumers often look for professional animal care qualifications and experience in animal care when looking for pet care services, so it may be worth studying a formal animal care qualification to reflect your skills and experience if you haven’t already done so.

You’ll never know absolutely everything needed and unexpected things will come up all the time when running a business, but it’s important to keep boosting your professional skills.

Click here to continue reading and gain more advice…

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