By Julie Alexander
I am the owner of an in-home pet care service. I care for pets while their owners are away on vacation, hospital visits, business trips, holidays, etc. About three years ago, I was curiously looking at a list of "Top 100 Home-Based Businesses" on the Internet and this was where I got the idea. At the time I ran across the list, I wasn't seriously thinking about starting my own business, but I had played with the idea. When I spotted pet sitting reasonably high on the list, I thought, because of my love for animals, this sounded perfect - low start up costs, I could get some exercise from walking dogs, and it would be something I enjoy.
To get started, I first browsed web sites of other pet sitters and I even e-mailed a couple of them for advice on how to get started, to which they graciously responded. I then purchased a book titled, "Pet Sitting for Profit" by Patti Moran, which was very helpful. I joined Pet Sitters International and then purchased insurance. After coming up with a name, my business was born.
Luckily for me, my husband has been very supportive in my venture and has always been more than willing to take on a little more responsibility with our three kids (aged 4-14) so I can run my business. My business has grown enough in over the last year that I have had to rely on my husband to help out with the pet sitting and even my oldest daughter has helped out quite a bit. Thus, it has become more of a family business.
I started this out as an "on-the-side" type business as I haven't been courageous enough to give up my legal secretarial career, which I have worked at for the past 12 years. While I would love to be working only on my pet sitting business and spending more time at home with the kids, I feel I first need to apply my efforts towards getting out of debt, and then I can think about giving up my other job.
Pet sitting has been working out great for me. At first, things started out very slow, but after a few months things really started to pick up. Summer time is my busiest time of the year, when school is out and families want to go on vacation. Things tend to slow down somewhat in January after the holidays, but this gives me a chance to breathe.
As far as advertising, I first left flyers in grocery stores, pet stores, etc., and I ran an ad in the local newspaper. Now, I only have a free ad in the yellow pages and I have recently obtained my own domain, www.petsitters-plus.com. I run a very short ad in the newspaper which gives my business name, phone number, and web address. I also hand out business cards.
I get such a wonderful feeling from owning my own business - being able to call the shots and reap the rewards. And I would recommend this type of business to anyone who has a love for animals. It absolutely makes my day when a customer tells me they can leave town and enjoy their trip knowing their pets and their home are in good hands.
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