Buying a rundown zoo was a career option for Matt Damon’s character in “We Bought a Zoo,” but for most of us the only zoo we’ll ever manage is a house full of kids. However, there is money to be made with animals and sometimes the startup costs can be next to nothing.
Here are 4 low-cost pet business ideas for animal lovers you can start with the proverbial shoestring, or dog food, budget.
1. Dog walker. I start out every morning writing at my desk which looks out our front window. By the time I’ve put 1,000 words to paper I’ve seen about a dozen men and women stroll by walking their dogs.
What do these people do when they go out-of-town or have to work odd hours? Maybe they would pay you to walk their dogs.
A good way to start up is with friends, or friends of friends, although there is at least one company in the business of franchising this deal. Fetch Pet Care will provide training and marketing to jump start your dog walking and pet sitting service. Paul Mann started the award-winning franchise when he couldn’t find anyone he felt was dependable or trustworthy enough to trust his pets with.
If you establish yourself as a dependable dog walker, there’s a huge market for a variety of pet services. You might provide transportation to the vet’s office or pet massages.
2. Pet sweater expert. Have you ever been invited to go over to your friend’s house for a jewelry party? There’s a huge market for upscale pet products. If all your friends are going crazy over their animals, maybe you can get a cut of that action. Shure Pets will get you going for an investment of $149.
If you’re handy with crafts, maybe you can design and make an item that will appeal to pet owners. There are various ways to sell your wares including Etsy.com, eBay.com, directly to people you know and wholesale to local pet stores.
3. Gourmet snacks. Dog biscuits have come a long way from the days when a pet owner’s only choice was Milk Bones on the grocery store shelves. Specialty pet treat shops are popping up in almost every medium sized city.
There are a lot of recipes on the Internet. Experiment with a few and then have all your pet owner friends bring their animals over for a blind tasting. Okay, it doesn’t have to be “blind,” but you get the idea.
Again, you can sell your creations to your friends but many local pet stores will be glad to feature your creations. An inexpensive website with a shopping cart plugin is another way to grow the business. Check out local legal issues before you start selling.
4. All of the above. If animals are your passion, any of these three ideas could eventually lead to your own boutique pet store. At that point you would be farming out production of your pet accessories, dog biscuits and acting as a scheduler for walkers and pet sitters, and taking a percentage off the top, of course.
As a footnote to this article, I should mention that several of these business plans involve selling directly to your customers. Here’s some great information that will help you understand what it takes to sell successfully.
If you’re an animal lover, what service or product do you think you could use that would make a good home startup?