Why do I need help setting up my business?
Many pet owners think of their pets as part of the family, and finding the right person to take care of their pets is a difficult task. They take the matter of pet care and welfare very seriously, and want to do everything possible to find a pet carer that is right for both them, and for their pets. They want to have confidence in their pet carer, and your business having a professional look and feel is everything when pet owners are looking for help.
First impressions are critical, and will determine whether the customer will contact you to talk about their needs. Think about this when creating a logo for your business and the colours that you use. Colour choice is important, as the wrong branding colours will put certain customer groups off who do not like them, so moderation is the key. If you want a bright pink website then go for it - but do not expect to get a lot of work from customers who found your website a bit bright or maybe too feminine (this is just an example but worth really thinking about). Also really think about the words that you use on your website or social media pages, they need to reflect your personality - but not be so casual as to alienate customers who are a bit different to you. If wording things professionally is not your best skill then ask for help from a friend or colleague - or you can ask me!
In the back office, setting your business up in a robust and professional way is critical, and can save unexpected set-backs once you are up and running. We rarely choose to work in the pet industry because we are excellent business managers, we do this because we love animals! This can mean that we have not thought through all the details and nuances of being a self-employed business before we begin. Select a good pet insurance provider and check if the services that you plan to offer require a licence. Ask your council about this directly and do not take your advice from strangers on social media! You may need to amend your vehicle insurance if you are planning to now drive for business use, and you may need to rethink your home insurance if you are planning to board or offer day care from home as some insurers do not allow working from home.
It is always good to talk your business plan through with someone else who understands the industry - and do lots of research from reputable sources.
Example: Some councils and land owners (for example, The Royal Parks in London and the Ministry of Defence) require you to purchase a permit to walk dogs commercially as part of any pet business, so make sure that you have checked this before you begin.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t even know what I need to know! Where do I start?
I would suggest booking a call to talk about what you are planning to do so that we can decide together if I can help you or not.
Here is some FREE advice. Write a business plan. Business plans can feel unnecessary when you are starting up, and it’s just Dog Walking, right? Wrong. They are an invaluable tool that helps you to decide which services you want to offer, how much to charge and how much you need to earn each day in order to 1) stay afloat, and 2) earn a profit. Think about which service will be your strongest offering, and which will be ‘side lines’. Think about what you can offer that makes you different to your local competition. You need to set yourself apart, especially if your area has a lot of pet businesses already. A business plan can help you to think all these things through and start off on a strong footing. It will also help you to decide if you can afford platforms such as a website straight away... do all your local competitors have one? Once you have some notes down in writing about what you want to do, and how you want to specialise... you are ready to get in touch!
Can this all be covered on the telephone?
Absolutely, as long as you have the ability to send photos, logos and text by email it is completely possible and quite normal, my clients are based all over the UK. I find that Messenger and Whatsapp work best for talking about the work taking place, but I can work in a way that suits you best.
What if I don't like the forms that you make?
Template packs are offered as they stand, but are in a format that you can change yourself if you want a different look or feel.
Customised work however is made as close to your specifications as possible. Design is completely subjective, and although every effort is made to understand your needs before starting a task, sometimes things need a little adjustment. Adjustments will be made within the price of the quote wherever possible and reasonable, however it may on occasion be necessary to charge a little extra. Your consent is needed in writing before any adjustments are made that would incur additional cost.
What if my Council want something changed in a document during an inspection and I have already paid you?
If you are asked to make minor changes to your forms and documents during an inspection that fall within the home boarding guidance for England, Wales or Scotland, let me know and I will make the adjustments for you free of charge. New documents however, would be chargeable. If your inspector is asking you to make changes that fall outside of the requirements of the guidance (they are making up their own rules), I may be able to help you to ask them why you are being asked to follow this rule. Alternatively, there are official organisations that can help you with this that I can refer you to.
Are these documents tried and tested?
Yes. They have been successfully passed inspection (at a 5* star rating) in Bracknell Forest, Rushmoor, West Berkshire, Cheshire West, Hart, Hyndburn and a number of other boroughs.
Will you look after my website for me?
The intention is that I design or redesign your website based on your specifications, and it is then handed back to you to be looked after going forwards. Whilst that is my intention, I do look after websites for several clients who prefer to ask me to make periodic tweaks and changes rather than complete them for themselves. I am happy to provide some basic training on looking after your website, and we can decide how you wish to manage your website once you have had a look at it and got a feel for how the change system works.
Can you design logos?
Not professionally. I am a canine business specialist and trainer, and I do not have access to a professional vector design package. There are some good logo design businesses around however, and I am happy to help you to find one. Once you have your logo however, I can apply it to your documents for you as part of the Virtual Assistant service.
Can I buy everything that I need in a package?
Yes, absolutely. Setting up a new business can be costly. As well as the administration set up, there are vehicles, insurance, walking permits, licence charges, equipment and changes to property to consider. Everything that you need is supplied in a pack or as a separate service so that you can start with the bare essentials and add extra items as you need them. The pack is usually a little cheaper than buying all the items individually. If you have a range of needs, please feel free to contact us for a personalised quote.
How can you help me with my training course?
If you need help to find a course that meets a specific set of requirements I can help you to find a reputable company to purchase from. You may not have studied for a while, I can help you prepare to get started and show you how to structure an essay, research answers using the internet and cite book and internet sources in an acceptable way for a professional qualification. I have many years experience working as a business coach and also as a classroom trainer so I am also able to help you find the right path if you are stuck on a particular question or subject – but I won’t give you the answers, you have to study!
How do I pay for template packs and documents?
I will send you an invoice that contains my bank details so that you can pay by bank transfer. I am often in and out with my own day care and boarding dogs, so feel free to send me a message when you have paid and I will pop back into the office and get them out to you as soon as possible.
How do I pay for hourly services such as Virtual Assistant?
When we discuss the work that you require, I will give you an estimate of the time that I will need to complete it. It is just an estimate and not a quote, but it will give you an idea of how much the work will cost. I will then send you an invoice for half of the estimated time, to get us started. Once payment is received (bank transfer if preferred) I will make a start with your work. I will then send an invoice at the end of every document, at the end of every day or the end of every week as per our agreed plan.