Ways To Make Quick Money Launching...
A Dog Walking "Fast Cash" Business
Table Of Contents
- Ways To Make Quick Money:
- Launching A Dog Walking Micro-Business
- What You Gain From This Venture
- Who This Venture Benefits Most
- Who Will Succeed
- Who This Venture Benefits Most
- The Venture Step-by-Step
- Basic Requirements
- Startup Equipment
- Delivering The Service
- Running The Operation
- Marketing This Baby
- Making The Moola
- Simple Cashflow Estimate
- Startup Equipment
- Insights and Caveats
- Types Of Collars
- Nurturing Your Customers
- Nurturing Your Customers
- Additional Resources and Final Comments
- Set Objectives
- Set Weekly And Monthly Goals
- Ask yourself what you want your dog walking business to look like in a month's time.
- How many dog walking clients do you want?
- How many walks do you want to be making in a month?
- How much money do you want to be earning?
- Ask yourself what it's going to take on a weekly basis for you to meet your monthly financial goal.
- How many dogs will you need to be walking?
- How many clients will you need to acquire?
- How much marketing will you need to do?
- How many cities/neighborhoods will you need to be servicing?
- Your Client's Security
Since most dog owners are working out of the house during the day, you'll have to get a key from them to enter their house and go dog walking with their pets. So it's important that you have a good key storage and tracking system.
- Find a secure location in your house to place your client's keys. Make sure that it isn't reachable by children, and it's not in a place that people frequent.
- Label your client's keys. Write some symbol, name, or number on a small piece of paper and tape it to your client's key. Make sure that whatever your write reminds you that the key belongs to your client.
- Purchase a key safe and place it in your secure location. These are relatively inexpensive depending on the style, and often can hold several keys at a time. Place your client's keys inside the safe whenever you aren't using them. This way you don't accidentally misplace them.
- If a client is unwilling to let you keep a key, then be prepared to give ideas to the client about ideal locations where to leave it available for you to access during the days that you need to walk the dog.
- Setup a business email account Using a personal email address for business purposes looks very unprofessional. Plus using your personal address may lead you to lose your client's emails amongst all the personal emails that you receive.
Note: When you start out with your business, there's no real need to purchase a domain name email address.
- Use Gmail to setup a designated business email address. It's free and integrated to Google Docs, which can help you run your business effectively also for free.
- Assign an abbreviated business name to your email alias.
Example: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Obviously the shorter your email address, the easier it will be for your clients to type it.
- Designate A Phone Line
- Carry a cell phone with you. Use a cell (wireless) rather than a wireline phone. This way you can pick up a client call anywhere you are.
- Answer professionally always using your business greeting.
- Keep your scheduling calendar with you at all times to schedule jobs if you receive a call.
- If you have a smart phone, learn to use Google Calendar.
Example: "Thank you for calling Wagging Tail Dog Walking. This is John speaking. How may I help you?"
- Setup An Appropriate Voicemail Message
The voice message for your dog walking business should sound professional so as to leave a good impression on prospective clients, and it needs to attract them to your business over competitors.
In your message let your clients know about a benefit that your dog walking provides that they cannot find anywhere else.
Your message could sound something like this:
"Thank you for calling Wagging Tail Dog Walking Services, specializing in bullies and woolies.
This is John Doe, and I guarantee you that within 1 week of walking your strong-willed dog, life will be more calm, bright and healthy for you and your pooch.
Please leave me a message with your name and number. I'll return your call within 24 hours. I look forward to speaking with you."
- Business Structure
- Start Out As A Sole Proprietorship. Until you are ready to pay fees to incorporate as a new entity, you should run your business as a sole proprietor.
- Avoid registering as a DBA (Doing Business As). Until you're ready to pay the fees for incorporating, put your cash into your operation and not into legal fees.
You can start this venture without having to register with the State for a DBA, if you simply use your personal (legal) name as the business name.
Example: There is no need to register a business if you name it "John Doe" and your name is John Doe.
But you will have to register your business if you name it, "Wagging Tail Dog Walking Service", because this is not your legal name. If it is, your parents never loved you...
Some states may not require persons to file a DBA as long as their legal name is part of the business name. Check with your county clerk to verify specifics for your area.
Example: You may not need to register your business if you name it "John Doe's Tail Dog Walking Service" and your name is also John Doe.
Drawbacks to not filing as a fictitious entity:
- You will be unable to open a business checking account. But when you start out, a business checking account isn't necessary. Buy your supplies with cash.
- Your own name might not be a very attractive name for any dog walking business.
- You will have to spend money registering the new entity, whether as limited liability company, S-corporation, etc. But nobody should have to ask permission of the State to attempt to make a living. It's immoral.
So try for a few days to determine the viability of operating a business as you think might work, doing your research, and then when you see evidence of sound potential, prepare to invest in the business by filing for a fictitious entity.
- You will trade lower liability risk for cash. If you are on the risk-averse side of the fence, you will need more cash up front to eliminate what you consider to be the risk of starting an operation without being "fully government compliant."
Again, your behavior will depend on the nature of how you view the role of the State in your life and its moral limits in permitting you to make a living.
Remember: Might does not make right.
Some states do not require persons to file a DBA regardless of what they name their business.
- Go here to learn whether your state offers this option.
A sole proprietorship is just you doing business as yourself. It's self-employment at its simplest.
Usually you don't need to file any paperwork with the State to work as a sole proprietorship, if you're going to do business in your own name or if you're not selling goods for which you must collect sales tax or use a tax certificate and a seller's permit from the State.
You can have a fictitious name as a sole proprietorship, just don't plagiarize the name of another business.
But if you decide to name your business something other than your own name, you may have to register a Fictitious Name Statement (aka Doing Business As) with the State. We recommend you use Legal Zoom.
The disadvantage in operating as a sole proprietorship is that you are personally liable for any damages that your business operation might commit.
This means that if your business doesn't have the capital to pay for damages, then your personal assets will be used to make payment.
This is why even as a sole proprietorship you need to consider buying insurance.
Incorporating as a different business entity eliminates this personal liability issue.
But it requires more out of pocket cash to cover legal fees and get the venture started. You trade off upfront cash for less liability risk.
Incorporating can cost several hundred dollars. So unless you cannot handle the concern over possibly being held personally liable for unexpected damages to your client's property, then don't incorporate right at the get go.
Test the waters of your market conservatively as a sole proprietor.
Use your early cash to plough it back into the business to cover for the risks that your growing operation will be taking on.
- Business Licensing
- You don't need a contractor's license to work as a dog walker.
- At a certain point, your local government may require you to have a business license to identify you as a taxable private business endeavor. You can check with your county clerk to make sure what the definitive point is for your locality.
Micro-business owners often run their businesses from home without a license until they have the money to subject themselves to one without a problem.
Make sure you are not in the meantime provoking your neighbors to question the legitimacy of your situation, so that they won't raise questions about your compliance to local zoning regulations.
If you conduct yourself professionally, there is no reason anyone should question you regarding a business license before you're ready to afford paying for one, if required by your local government.
- Business Insurance
- It's not essential to get insurance before starting a dog walking business.
Most startup micro-businesses don't go with insurance until they have several clients and can afford to pay the premiums.
- Consider the cost of insurance. Ask yourself how many walks it will take to pay for insurance. Also consider that every walk that you make does require a substantial amount of physical energy to complete. If you twist an ankle, scrape a knee, break a finger while chasing after a dog, you may want coverage for injuries.
To find out the Quantity of Jobs Required To Cover Insurance Cost take your Annual Insurance Premium ÷ (Your Average Cleaning Fee - Your Average Cleaning Costs)
Example: If you pay $299 a year for liability insurance and on average you charge $25 for a thirty-minute walk with a cost of $2 per walk, then it will require 13 thirty-minute walks to pay for your yearly insurance premium.
- Ask yourself if the amount of business that you plan on doing justifies paying for insurance.
If you only plan on working for 3 clients in a year, then it would be pointless to expect a large profit if you pay for insurance. Just do your work carefully and continue to increase your customer base until the revenue volume is sufficient to cover the insurance premium for the higher risk of damaging someone's property because you have so many more dogs that you're walking.
- Ask yourself if you can handle the dog potentially injuring itself or another dog, or even someone else while you own no insurance.
- Ask yourself if your dog walking target audience is prone to suing. Work with workable customers. Be selective. Not everybody willing to hire you is worth being hired by. Develop a relationship with your customers and make sure they are people with integrity, just as you ought to be.
- Learn whether your dog walking client base will require that you have liability insurance in order to do business with you.
- Keep it cool and just go without insurance.
- If you have very little cash to start and think you can handle walking a dog without any problems, or don't think you can spare the money for insurance, then going without insurance for a while may be the best choice for you. But hedge your bets. Select small, docile animals.
- If you decide to go with insurance, then here's some helpful information:
If you cringed after reading the statement above, then getting insurance could save you from anxiety in the future.
But be reasonable or you'll never get a business going. Take calculated risks.
Do you have a prospective dog walking client with a sickly or an aggressive dog? Don't walk the dog.
Set a policy that says you won't walk dogs with physical ailments or attitude problems, unless the owner takes full responsibility in writing for whatever happens while you're out with the dog.
Business insurance is usually broken up into four insurance types. All are valuable, but not all are necessary for a beginner.
General Liability Insurance General Liability insurance covers claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage.
Like car insurance, the higher your deductible, the smaller the premium. An average deductible for general liability insurance is about $1,000.
The higher your coverage (e.g. $100,000, $500,000, $1,000,000, etc) the higher the premium.
Here is a site that compares 3 of the most popular general liability insurance providers for dog walkers and pet sitters.
Commercial Auto Insurance Commercial auto insurance covers any claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage resulting from an accident involving your car.
Your personal car insurance WILL NOT cover any claims that occur against you for damages caused by your car while on business.
If you're carrying dogs to a site in your pick-up and one of them flies out the window and gets hurt, your personal auto insurance will not cover the owner.
Equipment Floater Insurance This covers any damage to or theft of your equipment.
Worker's Compensation Insurance This only applies for businesses that hire employees.
Contact a local insurance agent to have your specific questions answered.
Establish time blocks for your days. It's easier for your clients to schedule walks within those time blocks than allow them to pick random times in the day when to dog walk. Plus it gives your clients consistency in scheduling.
- Give yourself buffer times within each time block.
Example: You set 90-minute time blocks knowing that you will not spend more than 60 minutes walking during that time block. The remaining 30 minutes can be used to rest up before your next excursion or to drive to your next job.
- Save time and money by scheduling jobs in similar locations
- Schedule jobs in the same area on the same days.
Example: On Mondays and Tuesday you only do jobs in the city of Oakland. Wednesdays you only do jobs in the city of Trenton.
- Schedule your services by regional blocks in a city.
Example: Mondays you do jobs in West Smallville from 9 AM to 1 PM. From 2 PM to 6 PM you cover East Smallville.
- Be consistent to your schedule. This way your clients get a sense of your discipline and reliability.
Any prospective clients who you offered dog walking services to earlier will know when to expect you in their area.
- Try to find jobs in similar locations by walking your dogs in an area where other dog owners might spot you and ask you for a business card.
- Give yourself enough time between dog walking jobs to travel from one dog walking location to the next
Track your time once you schedule your week.
- Use Google Calendar. It's an awesome tool that can sync with your cell phone, plus it allows you access to other Google application that can track other aspects of your business operation and that you can access remotely, while you're away on site somewhere.
- At the beginning of each day, print out a copy of your weekly dog walking schedule and carry it around with you at all times in case you get a call from a client who would like to schedule a job.
Your main objective is to reduce the amount of time spent driving from one job to the next. Traveling doesn't bring in any money.
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