How to start your dog training business
Anyone starting out in business will want to know how to get started properly. It was one of the first questions I asked, how do I start my dog training business? What are the rules? Is it regulated? What are my tax obligations? How do I advertise?
Some of those questions, for me, where easily answered, as a web designer and online marketer by trade, I had those things covered already. Business setup and tax obligations were harder for me to get my head around. But I learned what to do and what not to do along the way. So here are my steps to help you get started.
Register for an ABN
I am using Australia as an example here, as that is where I started out. It is always best to do things by the book, so register for an ABN (Australian Business Number) you can either do this in your name (Sole Trader) or as a Trust or Company, how you structure your business is up to you. You also don’t have to register for GST unless you are earning over the threshold for GST, currently as of date of this article, the threshold for GST registration is $75,000. So if you are planning on earning less (even if it’s just for the first few years) I would recommend staying away from GST as it makes your tax reporting obligations more difficult. You won’t be able to claim back GST on expenses, however you won’t have to pay the GST difference either, so unless or until you are near the threshold, just run it simply.
Register a business name
You aren’t required to register a business name, however if you are a sole trader you will be required to trade under your own name, for example Jane Doe Dog Training. If you want to be a little more creative you can register your own business name and trade under that name instead of your own. You can register your business name from ASIC and for more information go here.
Register your Facebook page
This step really shouldn’t be optional. You want to create a Facebook page (Local Business) and start build a fan base.
Register a Google +Local Page
If you are servicing a small area, you want to have a +Local page with Google+. Your listing will then show for searches done in Google Desktop, or Mobile and it is the best and most reliable way for people to find service based business in Google.
Get a website
You don’t need to have a website, however a simple, but nice, website can help solidify your experience and professionalism. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars either. You can get a free Wix website, you can install WordPress on your own domain name, you can find local freelancers in your area that can help you do either of those or create a custom solution for less than you may think. You have to shop around and find the solution that is right for you and your budget. If you register your own domain name (.com.au needs an ABN number for registration) you can have a more professional email address like email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. Internet service provider email addresses are unprofessional, avoid using them.
Get some skills
Presumably you already have great dog training skills, but without some form of proof you will find it a little harder (only a little) to convince people that you can do the job. I recommend getting involved in as many community activities as you can. Go to dog shows, charity events, local shelter events, promote local shelters to your customers and ask shelters to recommend you to adopting families. All of these strategies are going to help you gain a strong foothold in your community and further solidify your position as an expert in your field.
Here are some areas you can look at for marketing your business. You don’t need to spend a fortune here either. Digital marketing is great for advertising within your means. So if you only have $5 per day to spend, so be it. You can still get some great exposure when you have a small budget, you simply have to be clever about where you advertise.
Advertising through search engines is very effective because your ads are only shown to people who are actively seeking your services.
- Through Facebook
Facebook advertising is great for building likes to your Facebook Page. If you have a low budget this is where I could start.
- Through Local Clubs
Dog obedience clubs are a great place to start to setup shop. Not only can you get assistance from other dog trainers but you will get more experience by helping train a wider variety of dogs in your area.
- Through Local Shelters
Volunteering through local shelters is not only great for your business, it is great for you. Just do it, don’t question it.
- Through Local Connections
Nothing is stronger than word of mouth. Start to exploit the connections you already have in the community.
- Through Local Mail Box Drops
Tried and true methods of advertising can still work. Photocopy a bunch of flyers are walk around your neighbourhood.
- Through Dog Groomers
Groomers is a place no one would thing that you can get some connections with clients. Groomers are in strong demand, if you have a few that can refer business to you don’t forget to pay it back to them. If a small business wants to support you, support them back, 100%.
Track your marketing and the result each change has on the number of enquiries, Facebook fans, website visits. It is all a rich tapestry and it’s all about you. Measure, test, measure, test, rinse, repeat. If something isn’t working change it and test again. The more you test the more insight you get into what gets results and what doesn’t.
I hope that this information has been enlightening, if you have any comments or anything to add please add your comments below.
Good luck with your business!