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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys, I'm going back to college soon and I'm starting a little pet business for side cash. I'm im the process of putting together a website, and would appreciate input!

My services so far are:
1) Dog walking (15 min, 30 min, 1 hr option)

2) Play Date (one on one romp time: 15 min, 30 min, 1 hr option)

3) Lunch Date (quick stop in, roughly 20 min visit. Can be used for feeding, potty break, mediciation administration, a rub down or a quick game)

4) --It happens! (Cat litter cleaning, back yard dog poo cleaning, habitat cleaning for other pets)

5) Polished Pooch (bath and brush out only, no ears or nails. Will get a teeth cleaning dog bone)

6) Daytime pet sitting (no over night services)

7) Dog park (30 min or 1 hr option)

So, for the input! Do you like the service names? I'm open to other suggestions lol. Also, can you think of other services that may be helpful and wanted? And lastly, what do you feel is fair, reasonable, but competitive pricing?
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Input:

Starting a business is an exciting idea. But if you are the owner, remember that there are taxes, possible licenses, business insurance (don't even think of not having this, the average cost for a dog bite incident is now at $32,000, your dog could get loose and hurt, you could be falsely accused of taking something from the house where you stop in to walk the dog, etc). Don't administer medication, that can turn into a liability quickly.

Keep records, some supplies may be deductible.

Keep boundaries, no you are not going to walk her dog at 2AM, you are not going to pick up groceries or vacuum (unless you want to do so and are compensated).

I love the service names!!

As far as pricing, you absolutely need to research the going price in your area. As you can imagine, the prices in New York City are different that they are in some small midwest town. Be competitive, but don't give your services away. Good luck, I'm excited for you!
 

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I agree- you need to be sure you have the necessary licenses, are paying the necessary taxes, and you need, need, NEED business insurance.

If the primary motivation for this venture is to make extra money, I'd strongly suggest operating under a larger company like rover or dogvacay. They have insurance built in, I believe, and will make sure everything is being done legally.

It is not difficult to open a business void of insurance, without registering it, and without making sure you're following the right legal channels to open it. That puts you at a lot of risk, though. If you're still claimed as a dependent on your parent's taxes, I believe that opens them up to considerable liability as well.

People these days can sue at the drop of a hat, and bite laws heavily favor the people who have been bitten. There was one case where a well known, respected trainer was working with a dog in public, the dog bit, and the trainer was sued for something like a million dollars, lost, and had to pay that amount. When you're being sued, they are going after assets like property, cars, etc as well as the money you have in a bank. Not having liability insurance when starting a pet business is opening yourself up to losing houses, cars, and lives, IMO.

If you're operating with insurance, you're likely to be losing money before you're making money. That's why I recommend operating through a larger company if your primary goal is to be making money from this. Unless you're actually trying to put down roots as a business (like, trying to train professionally for a living), it is a good idea to go through a larger company, IMO.

Also- most places in the US require you to place a "doing business as" (DBA) add in the newspaper to be sure no one is operating under the name you want. When coming up with a name to operate under, make a list of a few different ones. Also, when buying a website name, it is a good idea to buy directly from the hosting company rather than through a third party, as sometimes I've heard of first parties registering the domain in their name instead of yours and jacking up prices later on once you've established your site on that domain. Make a few different domain name ideas before setting out for one, as well. The DBA add usually doesn't cost too much, in my area I think it ranges from 45-160 for the required 2 weeks it needs to run in the newspaper. You city governmental website likely has a list of newspapers that are OK'd for this- some will file the necessary paperwork at the city clerk's office for you, some you need to do it yourself.

As far as services...
With pet sitting, be sure you don't need a kennel license to do that under city/state law. Also be sure your lease allows this, if you're renting.

With dog parks and play dates- consider the liability aspect and whether you're comfortable with it. Personally, I would balk at the possible liability of bringing a dog to the park or play date with another dog. Dog fights happen, even with well socialized dogs, and dog parks are a roll of the dice as far as safety.

I would have a lawyer help you draw up some kind of non-liability form that clients sign. It won't actually stop them from being able to sue you, but may make them less likely to try to do so.

Make clear rules with the client when you discuss services, and enforce boundaries early on.
 

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A couple suggestions:

1) Instead of having a bunch of different service options- just do it by time. Like a 15 minute visit, 30 minute visit, an hour visit, whatever. And then have the owners give you instructions on what they want you to do. For example I used to do dog walking but some dogs were too old or too young to do an entire 30 minute walk, so the owner would pay for a 30 minute walk but instructed that after they went out to go potty I should just play with them or cuddle with them inside instead. Other dogs would want to walk the whole time. Some owners would pay for 30 minutes but had cats instead so I'd take care of the cats for 30 min/day for the same price as a 30 min visit for a dog.

2) I wouldn't do dog parks- too much of a liability- the dog could get in a fight, be attacked, or bite someone.
 

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I have a few things to say. First of all, I think this is a good idea and the names are great. Also, like others said the prices will vary greatly depending on where you live. However I don't think you should start a "business" but just have ads on things like rover or care.com. I have noticed though that on rover.com a lot of people assume you're taking the dog into your own home, which I don't think you're looking to do.

I am curious about one thing though. You said you want to do this to make money while you're at college. That leads me to believe you're a full time student who will go to classes during the weekdays. Well, weekdays between 10-5 is when most people need their dogs to be walked, as they are at work or school. If you are also busy in that time slot, I can't see you getting as much work as you want.

You must also consider how much dog experience you have and what sort of requirements you will have for the dogs you look after. Are you comfortable with a dog that may bite if you take his toys? A 100lb Mastiff? A 15 year old dog on 6 medications? How many dogs are you going to walk at once? The important thing is to only do what you're capable of and not push it, because bad things can happen.

Otherwise I think this is something you can do but just keep important things like safety in mind!
 
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