I come across some interesting people when it comes to small business development. Almost everyone has an idea or a dream to start a business some day. Amy is going through a transition and wants to move to a new town. She is between jobs but has a bit of a nest egg and wants to perhaps go into dog walking and training. What are her credentials? Well, she loves dogs – and their people. She has trained her rescue puppy (who is about 6 months old) in both voice and hand commands. She loves hanging out at the dog park. Amy does not have a college education and so far has not needed one – and although she is considering going back to school – if she opens a dog training business she does not need any real formal education. So it seems as though this is a great idea and a good fit for her. So lets get her started.
The first thing, of course, is to determine if she has what it takes to pull herself up by her bootstraps and do the work. So she needs to take the free “Goal Setting and Motivation for the Entrepreneur‘ course. Because being a micro-entrepreneur is really just you working for yourself, the most important thing for Amy is to determine if she has what it takes to be a success. This is good for everyone but essential for the micro-entrepreneur.
Now she needs to learn a bit about the profession and this is fairly easy. To be a dog trainer, Amy must spend time around dogs – hers and other peoples’ – she needs access to dogs to train if even on a volunteer basis to get started. Getting a job at a kennel or training facility is a good start and especially if she wants to determine if this is the right path for her. The American Kennel Club has a wealth of information concerning how to become a qualified dog trainer so Amy really needs to do some research (and Google works for most market research). There are certifications available that will provide the basic knowledge necessary to train dogs properly and scientifically, but there is no substitute for experience. There are also associations that will help Amy get started.
So what’s next for Amy? Find a friends dog that needs training and train the dog. Once she is confident that this is the right future for her, she will need a business license, a website (which is essential in my book) and some basic insurance. I don’t think the location or competition is critical. In todays modern economy, showing up and doing a good job is a great way to beat any competition. The end game is to evaluate the location for profit potential and develop a long-term strategy. In Amy’s case she wants to move to a resort town so maybe training, walking, and pet-sitting dogs that come on vacation with their people is a good idea – then more formal people and dog training can be continued over the internet.
How much money will she need to charge? The answer to this question is partly market – what are others charging – and partly needs-based. There is a bottom line, below which she will not want to engage in this business. Lets say it is a net profit of $1,000 a week. How many clients can she take at in a 40 hour work day to make that kind of money? Well $25 an hour is at the absolute bottom of the range and this seems realistic. Of course this hourly rate could become much higher as she gains credentials, referrals, and testimonials.
Amy, this is a great idea and seems like a great fit for you. I suggest you get started on this and make it happen!