Animal Lovers: Have You Considered Starting One of These Businesses?
By Paula Fitzsimmons
Aspiring animal-loving entrepreneurs have more options than ever. Starting a business – any business – used to be more complicated and expensive. The growth of technology, service providers, and funding options have opened doors.
Yet there are some things innovation can’t replace. Business owners still need to possess a strong work ethic, patience, and tenacity. That never changes. Success is often gradual, and despite what the adverts say, doesn’t happen effortlessly or without a learning curve. I speak from experience.
If working for yourself – and including your love for animals into the mix – is your dream, several suggestions follow. With the exception of the brick-and-mortar model these businesses require relatively low startup costs.
Start a shop to adopt
The popular cat cafe trend that originated in Eastern Asia has recently gained momentum in North America. Since Cat Town Cafe & Adoption of Oakland, California opened shop in 2014 new cafes have been sprouting up in places like Denver, Portland, and San Diego, to name a few.
By merging a cafe with an adoption center – the cafe owner partners with a shelter – guests get a bight to eat, unwind, play with cats, and hopefully adopt one.
Cat cafes may be new here, but similar models already exist. For example, the Aloft Asheville Downtown partners with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue to find homes for adoptable dogs. And you may have shopped at a companion animal supply store where the owner also offers adoption services. (To be clear, I’m talking about legitimate animal adoption services; not selling animals under the guise of adoption.)
The venue doesn’t have to be a cafe, and the animals offered for adoption can vary. What’s stopping you from starting a yoga studio or bed-and-breakfast?
There are a lot of things you’ll need to learn about and consider – partnering with a reputable animal shelter, licensing, zoning restrictions, health department regulations, and start-up funding.
If this type of business speaks to you, the Denver Cat Company offers advice.
Take dogs on an adventure
Think of adventure walking as dog walking turned up a notch. For example, Canine Adventures takes their clients’ dogs on adventures that include hiking, swimming, and rock hopping. Fun!
This business works especially well if you live near a park, agility course, beach, or somewhere where you can offer you dog – and human – clients something out of the ordinary.
Good read: “Want to Start a Solo Dog Walking Business? First Ask Yourself These 9 Questions” Includes links to additional resources.
• Daycare, sitting, and boarding
• Concierge services. For instance, you can offer to check your client’s home while they’re away.
• Animal massage & grooming
• Humane animal transport – to and from vet appointments, for instance.
Be mindful of licensing requirements for any of these services. Check out Pet Sitters International to learn more about this industry and network with other professionals.
Sell your goods
The growth of ecommerce service providers and venues such as Etsy and eBay has made selling online simpler than ever.
But this accessibility has also created a lot of competition, so it’s imperative that what you’re selling is unique. Getting caught in pricing wars and race-to-the-bottom situations is not conducive to making a profit.
You’ll have a better chance for success if your products are unique, preferably something you create yourself. For instance, Salvador Kitti creates and sells their own lines of vegan, animal-themed bags and accessories
Good read: “Should You Start a Home-based Animal Gift Store?” Includes ideas on what to sell.
License your art
Are you an an animal or nature artist? Consider licensing your work to companies for use on calendars, totes, book covers, and other items.
Marjolein Bastin, Paul Brent, and Charley Harper are a few names you may recognize – but other less-known artists are also profiting from their art. For instance, Whole Foods Market partners with Etsy sellers to create the artwork for some of their reusable grocery bags.
For guidance on how to profit from your animal art, check out ArtLicensing.info.
Help find missing companion animals
When a beloved family member is lost, your world stops. Finding animals is not easy, and searches could be futile. Which is why some people turn to missing animal response technicians – aka pet detectives – for help. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, giving them the gift of being able to find things we humans can’t.
Pet detectives also have access to high-tech equipment most of us don’t, like thermal imaging and night cameras.
If you and your beloved dog are up to the task and would like to offer this important service, Missing Pet Partnership offers training.
Almost any career can be turned into a business. What’s your special skill or hobby? Do you like to write? Draw? Groom animals? Are you a veterinarian? We’re living in a gig economy, one in which an increasing number of people are taking the leap to work for themselves. Whichever business model you choose, make sure you do your due research. Join professional organizations, reach out to others, and find mentors (such as those offered by SCORE). Go slowly and be careful – but don’t be afraid of chasing your dream.
Cat with menu image credit (minus type): #109300857 from Clipart.com.