Love your dog like a child?
You're not alone!
According to the National Pet Owners Survey sponsored by the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent over $45 billion on their beloved pets in 2009.
While much of that money is spent on food and vet care, there is plenty being spent on pet pampering services ranging from doggie daycare to cat couture to organic pet treats.
If you're a die-hard pet lover, consider taking advantage of our pet-crazed country to launch a fun new business. Here are some lifestyle-friendly choices that might just might make you sit up and "bark" with delight:
At a time when the number of two-career couples is at an all-time high, the demand for doggie daycare services is thriving. Whether you choose to run a day care service out of your home, through a franchise, or at a leased business location, you'll be responsible for feeding, walking and playing with the dogs while their owners are busy at work. You can also supplement your income by offering extra services like dog grooming and training classes. Of course, with any pet-related business, it is imperative that you explore liability and zoning issues prior to taking on clients.
Pet-walking is an easy business to start, a great excuse to get exercise and a surprisingly lucrative enterprise for people who work in major cities (some NY dog-walkers earn in excess of six-figures annually). Start-up costs are minimal and it can be relatively easy to build up a steady stream of clients once you establish your reputation as a caring and reliable provider.
Pets are an integral part of the family, so it's no surprise that an increasing number of people are paying to have professional portraits snapped of their four-legged and feathered friends. In addition to buying portraits, devoted pet lovers will also pay for products printed with photos of their pets. If you are artistic, you might be able to expand your offerings to include paintings or sketches of your pet clients.
From Halloween outfits to gourmet biscuits to environmentally friendly toys, pet owners are eager to indulge their furry friends with special toys and treats. You can sell your goodies at craft shows, through local pet stores or on the Internet. If you don't want to create your own products, consider affiliating with one of the direct sales/home party companies that specialize in pet-related product sales.
Like humans, nothing spruces up a pet's appearance quite like a good shower and shave. Pet grooming services can be run in stores, private homes, salons and on the road via mobile-pet-grooming vans. If you are leery about creating a pet grooming business from scratch, investigate the options for buying into a pet grooming franchise.
Trained animal behaviorists work with companion animals (dogs, cats, parrots, horses, etc.) to resolve common behavior problems such as house-soiling, aggression and phobias. There are a number of accredited universities that offer graduate degrees in psychology, biology or related fields that can lead to a specialization in animal behavior, as well as several masters and Phd programs specifically in animal behavior.
Nancy Collamer, M.S.,is a career coach, speaker, and author of the new book Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (Random House, 2013). In private practice since 1996, Nancy gained national prominence in her tenure as the Career Transitions columnist for Oxygen Media. She has spoken at venues ranging from Harvard Business School to the California Governors Conference on Women. Please connect with Nancy on Twitter @NancyCollamer and on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com.