Around 40% of households in the UK own a pet and the average Brit spends almost £100 a month on their animal friends. With such a huge market, it’s no surprise that the pet industry has boomed in recent years, creating great opportunities for those who want to pursue a dream career with animals.
However, what many may not consider, is the huge responsibility that comes with a job in pet care. You are, after all, responsible for the welfare of another living thing. As such, it’s imperative that you know what you’re doing and are always striving to provide the highest standards of care possible.
So, if you’re looking to launch a new business in the pet care industry that goes above and beyond what’s expected, follow our five top tips to be as prepared and informed as possible.
Tip 1: Know your industry inside out
With the rise of Instagram accounts for pets and our obsession with celebrity pooches, opportunities in the pet industry are ever expanding, from dog accessory businesses to dog walking services and pet insurance. So, whilst it’s fundamental to have a passion for animals as a pet business owner, you also need to do your research to ensure your startup has a place in this diverse industry. Putting together a business plan and asking yourself the following questions will help you achieve this.
How will your product or service stand out in the market? Can you offer higher standards than your competitors by providing safer products or better qualifications?
How will you maintain good relationships with your customers? Could you offer a deal at the beginning of your startup to gain interest and earn trust?
What licenses do you need to ensure you are running a successful and legal pet business?
When it comes to budgeting, you need to be as prepared as possible. The journey of running a startup will undoubtedly see you face some curveballs, and the better researched and financially ready you are, the more smoothly you’ll be able to deal with these obstacles.
Tip 2: Know what standards are expected of you
Whether it’s grooming, dog walking or manufacturing treats and toys, your business will be impacting the lives of pets and their owners. Therefore, it’s essential that you’re aware of what standards of care are expected of you, not just legally but morally too.
It’s vital to know what laws and legislations there are surrounding pet care, but always try to go above and beyond that. There are loads of qualifications out there and the pet industry is filled with people looking to improve standards, so do everything you can to constantly increase your knowledge and what you’re offering. Don’t feel like you need to restrict your qualifications to just pet care either, be sure to explore other areas that could improve your business as a whole, such as health and safety or general hygiene training.
It’s also worth looking for respected organisations that can accredit your business. If you were looking to open a veterinary practice for example, you could go above and beyond what’s expected by gaining accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Practice Standards Scheme.
Tip 3: Know what your competitors are up to
Globally, the pet industry is considered one of the fastest growing markets out there. But with a growing market comes increased competition and a greater need for your business to stand out.
Getting a feel for what’s out there and spending that extra bit of time researching may be what gives you an edge over your competitors. For example, if you’re offering better services or have more qualified staff it shows customers that you really care about their pets, inevitably getting more feet (and paws) through the door. Not only that, other businesses may pick up on what you’re doing and mirror it in their own activities, contributing to improving the industry as a whole.
Don’t forget to look at the sector on a global scale too, as Asia has seen the fastest growing developments in the pet industry, with the likes of India, China and Thailand also leading the way. This might be the perfect place to start your own business, not only to keep ahead of the competition, but also contribute to higher standards of care that newer markets may lack.
Tip 4: Be creative with your efforts
Standing out in a crowded market is tough, especially when your big competitors have huge advertising and marketing budgets. Although, there are loads of examples of good PR and marketing done with little or no money. Take a look at what other businesses your size are doing, and try to be proactive. Consider reaching out to other businesses that could compliment what you’re offering, maybe they’d be willing to collaborate on a marketing campaign or you could offer discounts to each others’ customers.
It’s also important to think about what social impact your pet care business should have, for example, working with animal charities is a great way of showing that your company truly cares about animal welfare as a whole. Reach out to some local rehoming centres and see if you can offer any of your services for free, not only will it feel good, it will cement your business within your local community whilst helping animals that need it most.
If you’re not too savvy online make sure you seek advice when setting up websites and social media accounts, whether you enrol on a course or ask family and friends. It’s vital to have a presence online in today’s market. In fact, one of the first things you should do when you’ve settled on a company name is check what domain names and Twitter handles are available. The last thing you want is to invest money on logos and branding only to find there’s no suitable website domain.
Tip 5: Don’t give up
Nobody said starting your own business was easy. In fact it’s really difficult, as the UK sees 50% of startups fail. To make sure you’re not one of them, the key is to not lost steam after the first 12 months, and remain dedicated, driven and determined. From analysing the success of your products or services, improving internal processes, or thinking of innovative ways to get your brand out there, there’s always more you can do.
Starting a business in the pet industry is an exciting prospect. The competitiveness of the market, combined with the need to constantly upkeep care standards, will require you to be at the top of your game and sector. However, all that hard work will certainly be rewarding as you’ll not only be working with much loved pets, you’ll also be improving pet care standards as a whole.