Starting a business selling pets might seem like a great idea if you’re a pet lover. But before you get started, you need to know the basics of starting a pet-sitting business.
1. Know Your Local Laws
If you’re selling cats or Puppies for Sale Under $500, the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that they be properly cared for and treated humanely. It also requires that your facility meet specific standards for housing and sanitation, among other things. The AWA doesn’t apply to birds, reptiles, or fish (though there may be state laws governing these animals). If you’re selling other animals — such as rodents — there may be no federal regulations. Every state has its own set of rules governing pet dealers, breeders, and boarding facilities. Check with your local animal control department for details about licensing requirements and inspection schedules for boarding facilities. For example, selling puppies or kittens under six weeks old may be illegal. Also, call your local health department to find out if there are any health codes or requirements you need to meet.
2. Consider Insurance
Another thing you should do is get insurance. You’ll need it for liability and property damage. Insurance companies typically offer policies that cover everything from bodily injury to property damage. As a pet sitter, you’ll be responsible for the safety and well-being of your clients’ animals. This means that you could be held liable if anything happens to them while in your care — whether it’s an accident or an illness. It’s essential to have surplus lines insurance that covers liability and other risks associated with caring for pets. If you don’t already have it, consider buying a policy as part of starting your business.
3. Have Licenses and Permits
If you plan on selling pets from your home or another location other than a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll need to get a permit from your city or county government. The process for obtaining this license varies depending on where you live. You may have to pay an annual fee and meet specific safety and sanitation requirements. In some cases, you might also need to obtain special licensing from the state level if you plan on selling animals out of state or internationally.
4. Figure Out Your Business Structure
The options include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC). As far as taxes go, there are some differences between these types of companies — specifically, sole proprietorships and partnerships pay self-employment taxes on their earnings, while corporations and LLCs don’t have to pay those taxes since the owners of the company are already paying them.
5. Consider Hiring an Accountant or Lawyer
If you’re unsure about how to set up your business or what legal requirements apply in your state or municipality, reach out for professional advice from an accountant or attorney specializing in small businesses and startups. A lawyer can help ensure that all contracts are written correctly and signed by all parties involved — this includes agreements between owners of multiple companies and agreements between owners and employees.
6. Decide Whether You Want Employees or Contractors
Contractors don’t offer any benefits (like health insurance), but they don’t require payroll taxes (such as Social Security). In addition, contractors are more flexible than full-time employees: They can work fewer hours per week and take time off whenever they want without notice. However, if they have bad weeks where they don’t make much money, they won’t have any sick or vacation days coming their way — they’ll have to deal with it themselves.