Taking care of pets is a rewarding business. It offers a flexible schedule, and the opportunity to make a difference in a person’s life. A pet sitting business also provides a steady source of income.
Start your business by determining your financial structure and legal requirements. You will also need to set up your website and marketing plan.
The first step in setting up a pet sitting business is to determine the legal structure of your company. This includes assessing your liability protection needs and tax implications of different entity types. For example, if you form an LLC before connecting with your first client and operate it in compliance with state law, your personal assets should be protected from any lawsuits against the business. In addition, an LLC provides many options for how to be taxed which can save you money at tax time.
Once you have established the legal structure of your pet sitting business, it’s important to understand your tax obligations. Since sitters typically work as independent contractors, they will be required to pay self-employment taxes (a 15.3% tax that includes the employer and employee portions of Medicare and Social Security) on all income from their pet care services.
To help minimize this tax burden, consider setting up a separate bank account for your business and tracking all of your expenses. Keeping receipts for things like food, training tools and pet supplies can all be used as deductions at tax time. Similarly, mileage and phone bills can be used as business expense write-offs.
It’s also a good idea to find an accountant that works with small businesses and can provide you with advice for saving money and running your business efficiently. Ask other local pet sitters for recommendations and shop around to find an accountant that offers the best fees, credentials and references.
There are a lot of costs associated with starting any business. A pet sitting business is no different. You might need a van or truck to transport yourself and pets to clients’ homes, which will require auto liability insurance. You will also need a commercial property policy with stocks and contents coverage, which reimburses your losses if CCTV cameras or other valuable equipment in your offices or at client locations are stolen or damaged by vandals, fire or natural disaster.
General liability policies designed for small businesses typically exclude the property of others that you, your employees or independent contractors might cause damage to while carrying out your business’s operations. You might need a separate special endorsement such as care, custody and control or bailee coverage on your policy to protect your business from these losses. PSI offers access to both of these types of policies through Business Insurers of the Carolinas to its active members.
There is a wide range of marketing associated with a pet sitting business. This includes a website, social media and listing on online marketplaces and directories. This can be a very cost-effective way to reach potential customers.
A client referral program can also be an effective strategy to attract new clients. Happy customers are often your best advocates and may recommend your services to friends and family.
Attend as many dog events, business open houses and shelter fundraisers in your area as possible to meet pet owners. Set up a table and distribute your business cards, fliers or other promotional materials at these events.