Why a picture of a kitten? Because when I started my business, I felt just like Oscar here, looking up and the tall and already established world, wondering how I'd ever make it. Ok, he probably did not think that at all, but for the purpose of this blog post, let's say he did. Plus he was cute as cute could be.
When I tell people that I am the owner of a pet sitting business, I get a myriad of responses. Things like, "Oh, so you get paid to play with cats all day? I can do that!" are fairly common. Then there are the ones that are more along the lines of, "How did you even know where to start?" That's the question we're gonna focus on today. I'm sure there are other would-be entrepreneurs out there, and if I can help someone get the motivation to get started, then I'm all for it.
The simple answer, I have no idea how I knew when I start. Most other business owners (both pet sitting and otherwise) have had the same answer that I am about to give you - it just kinda happened. It was a series of events that led me down the path where I am now. I suppose you can "force" a business to happen, but not sure how well a business created for the sake of creating a business would work out. You never know! But, there is a lot to starting a business. We'll take cat sitting for example. Yes, a love of cats is obviously imperative! But there is a lot more to it than that. Keep in mind, when you have your own business, you and you alone are the following departments:
- Customer service
When people think of cat sitting, the part they are thinking of is actually Operations. As you can see, that is only one part. All the rest of it is stuff that you don't usually see. We balance the books, we (often) create our own websites. We are the ones coming up with marketing campaigns and actually signing on the clients. And if there are any issues, we are the ones that handle them. We also handle all other issues that come in on phone, text or email, and handle them as needed.
This probably sounds like a lot. Well, it kinda is. You often spend every waking spare moment you have working on your business. Either you are thinking up new marketing campaigns, sending out emails to clients, working on the schedule, or making sure all the invoices have been sent out. Obviously this is done when you are not cat sitting. So, there are times where the behind the scenes stuff (everything outside of Operations) has to be put on the back burner, like around the holidays where your days consist of cat sitting, updating clients, answering emails that need answers and then trying to get sleep. Prioritizing is key!
This may sound like a lot. Well, I won't lie - it is. Especially at first. You DO get used to it though. The holiday rushes, well, if past experience during "busy seasons" at day jobs holds true, then you probably never really get used to that. But at least you know what to expect.
And no, you don't have to have a college degree in everything to do all this. Yes, I do have a Masters degree in business, and yes, it has been very helpful to me. But it is it needed, no. So what IS needed, you ask? Well, patience is a big one. Business is gonna be SLOW at first in many, many cases. This is where learning basic marketing skills comes in. Determining your target market is going to be KEY because all of your focus should be on this particular group of people. As a cat sitter, I obviously want to target people with cats. But there is more to it, and this is where learning basic marketing (you can do this on the internet or even take an introductory course) will not just come in handy, but be imperative.
Another piece of advice - a website. You may be thinking "But, can't you just use a Facebook business page as your website?" Sure, you can do that if you want. However, search engines will want to have a valid, honest-to-goodness website to present to people. Otherwise, your business listing (that's a whole other discussion for a different day) will show as not having a website. I don't know about you, but I'm more apt to skip by any listings (even for restaurants!) that don't have a website.
You do not need a flashy, top-of-the-art website!! You just need the basics - stating your services, an "about us" page (so important!), and a contact page. Templates already exist and it will be easy to create a basic website. Keep in mind, marketing isn't about what you think is useful, but what your TARGET MARKET thinks is useful. That's all for now folks. Did you like this post? Say something in the comments and we may do a follow-up one day.