Owning a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences that someone can have in life. For some, merely owning a pet is not enough. Their passion for pets goes beyond an enjoyable walk after work and some fresh treats for their four-legged companion. I was one of those people, and it led me to starting the New York Dog Nanny. Every day I get to work with my best friends and am constantly learning new things about both dogs and humans.
If this sounds like you, you may be ready to start your own pet-based business, but you may not know where to start. Luckily, I am here to help you break into the world of business ownership (this guide will be specific for prospective dog groomers but the information will be valuable for all businesses).
So without further ado, here is the complete guide to starting your own dog grooming business.
Develop Your Business Plan
Every business needs to have a sound plan, no matter how small or large it is. The planning phase of developing a business will be one of the most important in determining your future success. To effectively draft your dog grooming plan you need to address a few key areas of the business.
The executive summary is an overarching document that concisely details every element of your prospective business. It can be a daunting document to complete for any business owner, but this is especially true for new business owners. Even though the executive summary appears first, the SBA actually recommends that you do this section last. One thing you must include in your executive summary is your mission and vision statements. The mission and vision statements should help you visualize the rest of the business plan as they will serve as the overarching goals for your business.
Just a final note on the executive summary, it should be concise but detailed. One or two pages should be enough to encompass everything you want to include in your business.
In this section of the business plan, take a step-back and give a high-level overview of the company. Here, you will get more into the nitty gritty details of the business. Things like the name and graphics of your brand can be included here. The most important area to address in this section will definitely be the legal structure that you choose for your business. Your long-term goals should directly dictate the structure that you choose. If you plan to stay small, a Sole Proprietorship will be the right fit for you. If you want to grow your business into something larger, there are a plethora of different business structures that you can choose, each having their own set of pros and cons. Read more about the different types of business structures here.
Your business can only be as lucrative as the market it is a part of. Luckily, the pet care industry is booming, and with generational trends continuing, such as younger people choosing to have pets instead of children, and pet care becoming more popular this trend is likely to continue.
Still, it would be wise to conduct market research about your industry to make sure that the local pet care industry is not over saturated. As you conduct your research, be sure to look into both local and national trends within the pet industry. Capture key statistics including average revenue and growth numbers from similarly structured businesses. Also, be sure to key in on the demographics and psychographics amongst your target market.
Product and Services Overview:
This section will likely be one of the most straightforward in your business plan. In the products and services overview section, detail specifically each and every product and service that your business will offer. Focus on the value that your company will deliver to customers. This is also where you will want to list any potential vendors, suppliers, or partnerships that you may pursue in order to deliver your products. You will need to get those pet supplies from somewhere!
The first impression that your business makes will be important, so having a plan for how you will enter the market should be a priority of yours. This is where you will want to summarize how you plan to market and sell your products and services. Promotional materials, price points, sale ideas, and initial marketing campaigns should all be fleshed out and included in this section.
This area will be easier for a grooming business as you likely will not have a ton of other employees besides yourself and maybe a few groomers. Still, take the time to lay out how you want the organization to be structured. Will there be managers? Will you have an HR and accounting department? These are all questions that you need to address when filling out this section of the plan.
Here, you will use all the market and competitor analysis you did earlier to predict how successful you will be within the first five years of business. Key dates to include in your projections are your revenue after 12-months, revenue after one year, revenue after three years, and finally, revenue after five years.
If you need help with any position of your business plan, it would be wise to look through your local area for business development centers or groups. America’s SBDC has locations across the country and will provide you with free consultations with local business professionals.
Figure Out Funding
As a new business owner, funding your idea will be one of the most challenging aspects of the process. The best time to figure out how you will fund the business is right after you complete your business plan, as the plan will include things like vendor costs, cost of goods, and more.
After you add up the total amount that you need to start your business, you will need to think through where you will find these funds. A small business loan would seem like the likely option, but you actually cannot apply for a small business loan until your business is a proven success. Your startup funding will need to come from elsewhere.
Not being able to apply for a business loan will leave you with a few options for financing. One option you have is that you can front your own finances from whatever you already had saved up. If you can fund your startup all from your own savings, congratulations! You are starting off your business debt-free and will have a leg up on other new businesses. For most, this is not a route that they can go down, especially after a pandemic.
Others that still need to borrow money have a few routes they can go down to secure cash. The closest thing to a business loan that you can use to secure the financing you need for your business is a personal loan. Personal loans can be used for just about anything, if you need funding, this will be your best option to secure a large amount of cash early on. Just like with business loans, there are different types of personal loans that will be used in specific situations. If you are interested in taking out a personal loan, it is recommended that you read up on the different types of personal loans you can take out. Remember that the personal loan will be attached to your personal credit score, which means that your loan amount will be dictated by your personal financial situation.
Besides a personal loan, you can take to your family, friends, and other personal relationships to ask for startup cash. This is an extremely popular way to raise startup money, but sometimes, it can cause more trouble than it’s worth. If you do decide to borrow money from a friend or family member, make sure that there is a contract drawn up to ease any concerns from either party.
Source Your Materials
Now we are getting into the fun part of starting a business. The planning phase is pretty much wrapped up, so now you will actually start the business! Just know, the hard work has not stopped once you reach this point, in fact, it really has just begun.
While your materials will depend on your personal preference, here are some common starting materials that you will need to get the business started.
- A reliable computer – A computer probably isn’t the first thing you were thinking of buying to start your dog grooming business. Any business, no matter the industry or size, should have a reliable computer that can create marketing materials, handle financial documents, and manage any other back-office processes.
- Grooming Tables – having a few grooming tables of different sizes will allow you to accommodate a dog of any size. Some tables are adjustable and even fold to fit multiple breeds of dogs. Check out the best grooming tables on the market today.
- Assorted Clippers & Shears – an obvious one, having an assortment of clippers and shears will allow you to groom dogs of all different breeds.
- Shampoo & Conditioner – consider sourcing some higher quality shampoo and conditioner to ensure that you do not cause any rashes or issues with your clients’ dog’s skin or fur.
- Stripping Knife – not all dog breeds can be trimmed with shears and clippers. Certain coats need to be stripped or layered down using a special tool called a striping knife.
That is not all you need to get started, but it will at least get you on the right track. Other supplies you will likely need are dental supplies, a bathing tub for dogs, and cleaning supplies for the facility.
Market the Business
Well, if you have made it to this point, your business is just about ready to take on clients! You will need to do some legwork in order to secure your first few customers. Getting out in the community is a great way to raise awareness about your new business. Here are some easy ways to start marketing your business.
The easiest way to get your name out there is through social media channels. Creating an account is easy and free and you can get started right away. I recommend you start with at least Facebook, Instagram, and a website. These channels allow for the type of content that consumers are expecting from a dog grooming business. Consider doing a contest or giveaway for your first followers as an incentive to get followers.
A great way to make an impact in the local community is through partnerships. While you may not have a big budget right away to sponsor larger events, you can partner up with similar businesses in the area to create alliances. Partnering with a company, such as the New York Dog Nanny would make sense for a dog groomer. Building up these relationships will allow you to refer customers to your allies and vice versa.
While not as flashy as a nice social media campaign, traditional ad campaigns still work, especially for local businesses. Get out there and get your new business listed in the paper, on town websites, put up fliers. If you have the budget, a radio spot, or TV ad can go a long way, especially in a smaller city.
Getting your name out there will be extremely important in gaining momentum during the infancy of your business. These are just a few ways to get out there, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to marketing!
As you set out on your business ownership journey, remember that there will be bumps and hardships you will face along the way, but with enough expertise and hard work, you should be able to overcome any obstacle thrown your way. So get out there and start the best dog grooming business that you can!
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/TTGSZSElkOI
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