Use the Pareto Principle
Ever heard of the principle 20% of what you do, gives you 80% of the value. The principle derives from an Italian Economist who found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Since then it has been extended to many situations and more recently into a typical working day in an office where it was found that in a typical 8 hour day people were really only doing productive work in 90 minutes.
In practice what you should be doing is to figure out what the most important things that you do to give you the most value. To relate it to pet sitting, you may find that dog walking is your most profitable service compared to cat sitting. By maximising your work to doing more dog walking than cat sitting will increase your profit and get you on track to growing your business.
Schedule a “MAD” Day
MAD Days are common within the creative industries and they mean “Massive Action Day”. This is a day that is set aside in advance with several hours dedicated to some seriously productive working. Try to get your schedule set in advance to set aside some time that you are able to switch off your phone, and email and focus on those tedious tasks which are hovering in the background.
Backlog of paperwork, following up sales leads, invoicing, bookkeeping are all examples of things which can mount up in the background. By taking a day to focus on clearing your backlog (if you have one) will relief you of doing this in small chunks over a longer period of time. This extra time you gain can then be used to growing your business.
Brainstorm and Create an Action Board
Whether you are a seasoned pet sitter or just setting out, it is useful from time to time to do some brainstorming on what you want to achieve from your pet sitting business. Brainstorming can either be done individually or more productively with a friend or family member and is thinking of ways that you can grow your business. On a piece of paper write down every idea you can think of (even the most random). The next stage is to try to categorise the ideas into groups. Logically think about each and every idea you have wrote down and think whether it is achievable for your business.
Once you have a list of ideas start mapping them out on an action board (or piece of paper). This is a definitive list of things you want to implement in your business with deadline dates. Some examples of this could be:
- Get some Polo-shirts printed up with your logo to increase your professional image and free advertising when you are out and about
- Visit all the local vets and leave some leaflets with them on your services.
The action board should be viewed as a live document that is updated regularly. This will help you keep an eye on what still needs to be implemented and shows you how well you are doing with your deadlines.
A pet business includes a number of businesses for example:
- Dog Walker
- Pet Sitter
Some cats and dogs that you may care for in a pet business
- Dog Sitter
- Home Dog Boarder
- Dog Groomer
- Cat Sitter
- House Sitter
- Dog behaviouralist
- Dog Trainer
Maybe you are a dog or cat lover and would dearly love to start your own pet business,
I will be talking about dog sitting or pet sitting here, the way pet sitting works is that a dog owner who is possibly be going on holiday may type into the Google search bar ‘dog sitter London’ and the search will retrieve details of many pet sitters or dog sitters in London, the pet owner will make contact with the dog sitter and arrange to go along to visit the dog sitter with their dog, providing both parties are happy with the arrangement the dog owner will turn up on the agreed date to drop off her dog to be cared for by the pet sitter for the agreed dates. So this would be a good start to your pet business.
When seeking a pet sitter a dog owner should ensure that the dog sitter has certain credentials in place before using them. They should be licensed by their local authority if home boarding and should also hold a certificate of insurance, if they are coming to your home you should ask to see a copy of a current criminal record check. You should get references either by looking at feedback on the dog sitter’s website or from independent review sites or ask if you can call and speak to one of the dog sitter’s existing clients. Visit the NarpsUK pet owners page for tips and advice. If you want to own your own pet business then doing these things are a must.
Also if home boarding ask if there will be any other dogs boarded with your dog while your dog is there and also check the garden is secure.
A professional dog sitter will ask you to fill in the relevant forms and contracts and leave an emergency number as well as veterinary details and a copy of your dog’s vaccination certificate.
Once you are satisfied that your dog is in good hands you can go on your vacation reassured that your dog will be well cared for and happy while you are away.
You can find a professional pet sitter by going to the NarpsUK website and typing in your postcode, (click here to go to the NarpsUk website) or towww.findalocalpetsitter.co.uk who hold a list of registered dog sitters throughout the UK
So why not start your pet business today by visiting NarpsUK and reading all of the useful information on offer. www.narpsuk.co.uk
This month we got the chance to catch up with Antonet Verschuren who runs West London Petsitter. Read Antonet’s interview below and find out how she got into business.
What drove you to start your business? – was it a lifelong dream to run your own business / were you wanting to try something new / or was it the love of animals?
I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere surrounded by a mini zoo of pets – not to mention the incredible wildlife simply in our back garden or encountered in wildlife reserves.
So naturally since early childhood, the only thing I dreamed of was running a business in the pet care industry.
Somewhere along the line, that vision was slightly side-tracked by extensively globetrotting. But I eventually settled in London to study veterinary nursing and start my working career with animals.
Unfortunately I underestimated just how difficult it would be to live a non-student-like lifestyle, based on the income of a veterinary nurse (especially as I was no longer a teenager as most of my working peers were). So I was side-tracked even further with a switch to a career in IT & finance. However, I always still missed my work with animals.
Even though I worked as a volunteer at the RSPCA in Potters Bar on weekends, it wasn’t quite enough. So I eventually returned to animal care by working part time (alongside my full time City job) with an agency specialising in veterinary pet care in a home care situation, when the owners go away on business or holiday.
Though I enjoyed this to begin with, I eventually felt frustrated by the level of control & speed I had in the client communication. As well as the varying levels of professional care offered by other self-employed pet carers via the agency. In time, I strongly felt that I wanted to create a much more bespoke & personal service offering for both the owners & their pets.
I finally realised that the only way that I could truly offer the level of service & care that I envisage and aspire to, was by starting and running my own bespoke pet care business.
What was your biggest challenge when setting up?
I had neither the budget to have a website created for me, nor the knowledge to create one myself.
However going from resigning from my agency work the one day, to having no income the next, was the biggest motivation to create my website.
I had no choice but to learn extremely quickly and as I went along – yet little did I know just how much I was to learn throughout the process. In hindsight, I completely underestimated just how time consuming the setup project would be.
In my optimistic ignorance I thought it might take a couple of days – how very wrong I was! The initial setup project took at least a solid two weeks of work and research, including learning how to build a website and the basics of SEO. It took at least a further month to finally take the shape I had in mind – despite all that hard work and sleepless nights, it’s still a work in progress.
How did you get your first customer? - did you advertise / word of mouth / friend
Was it a daunting experience?
My first customer came from a random phone call at 10am on an idle Friday morning. At first I thought it was a joke as the client (very jovially) explained that he lived on Harley Street, and asked if I could look after his “adoooorable” Yorkshire Terrier for the weekend. He casually mentioned that wanted to go to Paris on holiday…. that night!
Needless to say, I had a wonderful first client & booking. And I guess the little that I learnt about SEO in the previous 2 weeks did the job with the power of Google.
Did you manage to find out all the information you required and advice? What was missing?
Though I had a few friends who gave me business & creative advice (none of them in the pet care industry) I already knew what I could and wanted to offer. However also realised that I didn’t have all the documentation to back up the business side of things and this is where NarpsUK came in.
The wealth of information & customer support available to members was invaluable in creating my own service offering. Before I had access to all the forms and information, I actually didn’t realise just how much I hadn’t thought about – so thank goodness I had fingertip access to all of the customisable documentation.
How did you find out about NarpsUK ?
I heard about NarpsUK via the agency I worked with at first.
What’s been the biggest benefit of joining NarpsUK?
The wealth of information & documentation available to help set up my business. Supported by the friendly and efficient customer support.
What would you do differently if you were setting up in business again?
It’s still early days so I have little to reflect upon. So far I’m more than pleased with how business has taken off and grown.
What advice would you give to other people who want to set up their own pet sitting business?
Join NarpsUK to get access to all the customisable forms and documentation. Not to mention the members forum where there are constant discussions and support that covers all aspects of setting up and running a pet care business.
Unless you have a start-up budget to pay for marketing advice, get as much advice as possible from any friends, acquaintances and relatives who have & run their own business.
Do not fall into the advertising trap – you will soon be swamped by salesmen from all angles trying to sell advertising space in magazines or online. Instead, list on as many free listing websites as possible and learn about SEO and how to market yourself.
Word of mouth is wonderful but that can take a really long time to get into full swing, depending on where you live. Be proactive and be prepared to work very hard on the admin and marketing side of things. You can’t really expect people to just coming knocking on your door if you don’t at least show them where your door is.
Do you have a website and logo?
Yes. My website is www.westlondonpetsitter.co.uk
I decided that I needed a website name that is easy to remember and is self-explanatory. In a market with so many names, it’s sometimes hard to remember something unless it’s really easy to remember.
Not only that, but my business name automatically helps to support and boost my SEO efforts.
I knew that I needed a logo but yet again, didn’t have the budget to have a bespoke logo created. Nor did I want to buy a mass market logo for the bespoke service that I wanted to offer.
Though I had a clear logo concept in mind, it wasn’t until an illustrator friend of mine finally moulded it into the shape that it now has, that it took the shape of a real logo.
Within less than 10 weeks of starting up, I have been approached by London’s top 5* boutique hotels to provide pet care services for their guests’ pets.
I am incredibly excited about this new working relationship and cannot wait to see what else the future of my bespoke pet care business holds.