Dec 16, 2022 | Starting a Business

How can I be sure my business will make enough money?

Q. Dear Zenagos, I’m thinking about starting a business for pet-sitting or dog daycare. I’m not sure I can make enough money doing this. How can I be sure?
–Esther

You can’t ever really be sure how much money you can make. Life is uncertain, and business is even less certain. When you go out on your own, you will be assuming the risks (and the potential rewards) of entrepreneurship. However, there are things you can do to gain confidence in your idea and to better understand the range of possible outcomes.

Find a Mentor
The best way to develop confidence in the amount of money you can make in your business is to build a financial plan. If you have never done that before, then it is wise to find a mentor who has started a business from scratch before and can help you avoid the most common mistakes. If you don’t know anyone like that, you can get a free mentor at SCORE.

Make a Plan
Your mentor will walk you through the different parts of a business and will help you put together a plan. It doesn’t need to be a complicated, written business plan, but you do need to develop answers to some key questions:

What is Your Offering?
There are many ways to be a pet sitter, so you will need to decide what you will offer, and what you will not offer. Some pet sitters work in the client’s home, others have the pets brought to their home, while still others operate a retail facility and provide transportation. Each offering has its own costs and risks, so what matters most is what will work best for you.

How Will You Find Clients?
You need to decide how you will get the word out about your services and find new clients. Even if you have a fantastic offering, you will not make enough money if nobody knows about you. Not all marketing techniques require money, but all of them require your time and energy.

What Can You Charge?
You will need to ask around a bit to discover the range of prices that are charged by competing pet sitters in your community. You may be able to develop relationships with related businesses, such as pet stores and veterinarians. Look for organizations that pet owners might consult when they need a pet sitter. These businesses will have a sense for what the going rate is for pet sitting. And, they may help you once your business is running – they will probably keep a referral list if they don’t offer pet sitting services themselves.

How Much is Enough?
How much you can make will depend on a number of variables, including how much you charge, how many animals you can care for at the same time, and how many hours you plan to work. Design your ideal work plan, and then calculate how much you can make. Only you can know how much is enough.

Consider Your Alternatives
Before you make the leap, be sure to compare the financial plan for your pet sitting idea with what you are doing now. If you are currently employed, you may not have considered all of the hidden benefits of working for someone else. When you work for someone else’s business, you can often go home at the end of the day or on the weekend and forget about work. You may have a steady salary that you can count on from week to week. Your company probably withholds taxes for you. You may have important benefits, such as health insurance, disability insurance, and the right to Family Medical Leave.

When you run your own business, you need to work extra hours to market your business and to invoice and collect from your customers. The costs of health insurance are daunting, and many entrepreneurs forget to pay their estimated taxes. And, you may have times of year when your clients don’t want your services, making it hard to get steady work. Entrepreneurs often feel that they never really get a vacation because they’re always searching for future work. So, it’s important to consider the downsides and make sure that you can manage them.

Don’t Forget the Good Stuff
Running your own business is challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. When you run your own business, you make the decisions, you have all the flexibility you need, and you get to do what you love. If working with pets all day makes your heart sing, there may not be a price you can put on that kind of joy.

 

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