If you love dogs and are looking for a business you can run from your home or add supplementary income, then dog walking might be for you. Depending where you live, you can actually make a decent living doing what you love while helping others make sure the furry members of their family get a good workout.

According to DogWalker.com, what you make can be based on whether you work for yourself or an agency as well as how many clients you have and the city where you live and work. The average is $10-$30 for a 30-minute walk per dog. If a person walks ten dogs per day, five days a week, the salary can average $39,000 per year.

However, this salary can go much higher in those cities where you can charge more. Yet, you need to also account for other costs that maybe you hadn’t thought of, such as licensing, insurance, taxes on that income and other expenses that come with just operating a business.

Getting Started in the Dog Walking Biz

The first place to start with dog walking is to ask friends and neighbors if they would like this service. You can get the idea of what it will be like this way and start to build a client base without spending any money on marketing. When you want to start doing this full-time and need more income, you can sign-up for dog walking agencies in your area.

There are also online dog walking services you can join, including places like DogWalker.com, Care.com, Dog Walkers USA and Friendly Dog Walkers. While you will have to share the income, you will get more jobs right from the start that helps to get your dog walking business up and running.

You will also get more clients with certification in dog handling. All you need to do is attend classes. Companies like DogTec and Pro Dog Walker offer on-site and online classes that help you get certified quickly while also providing comprehensive advice on getting your business launched. You will also need to check if the city you live in requires you to be insured as a dog walker. When working for a dog-walking agency, they often take care of the insurance aspect for you.

Just remember, there are less glamorous parts about the dog walking business, including a lot of poo clean up and potentially less than comfortable weather conditions during certain parts of the year. You may also have to contend with dogs that behave badly as well as navigate any conflicts with their owners or anyone else you come in contact with while walking the dogs. There will also be upfront costs to get started as well as to maintain your business that you will have to consider.

Growing Your Dog Walking Business

The success of your dog walking business is definitely built on the relationships you cultivate with people who have dogs and are looking for the service you provide. By maintaining good communication and reliable dog walking services, you will more than likely keep those clients and have them pass your name on to others that need what you offer. You can also improve your business by getting to know more about dogs so you can interact and understand them more. This can help make the actual process of walking dogs so much easier, which further adds to the relationship you are forging with the “parents.”

To grow your dog walking business, you will want to create business cards to pass out when people ask while walking dogs, create an attractive, professional website, advertise online and leverage the viral benefits of social media. You can also think about adding value-based services as you expand your dog walking business, including dog baths and grooming, pet sitting while clients are away on vacation, and dog obedience training. While many of these extra services may require additional education, training, and certification, it may be worth it if it means differentiation from other dog walkers and additional revenue streams.

Putting Cash Flow on a Tight Leash with Online Invoicing Tools for Dog Walkers

Beyond just finding clients and getting accustomed to creating a schedule for dog walking, there are many small business tasks you need to learn and manage, including keeping good financial records, sending invoices, keeping insurance and liability insurance, creating contracts and agreements, and paying taxes.

One area where you can add efficiency while reducing resources used is with invoicing your clients. Since it is clear they are hiring you to take care of their dog because they are too busy, it’s also a good idea to use these online invoicing tools to make paying you as convenient as possible. Here’s what else you can do with these online invoicing tools:

  • A dog walking business should look just as professional as any other business and can develop into its own recognizable brand. Besides creating a consistent look across all of your marketing materials, choose an online invoicing template that aligns with the look and feel of your business. This invoice template also provides a more professional appearance to your billing, which clients equate to the level of your service.
  • Typically, a dog walking client will pay the same amount each month, so having an online invoicing tool that offers recurring invoice creation saves you time and gives you more time out there to walk the dogs.
  • You may not be a whiz at math, so it helps to have an online invoicing tool that does the calculations for you. That way, you are always sending accurate invoices rather than wasting time fixing and re-sending them.
  • Since you are often outside and on the go, it’s convenient to access a cloud-based invoicing system that lets you check and send invoices from any device at any time. That’s multitasking at its finest.
  • Sending email invoices to your clients saves them the time and hassle while you don’t have to deal in paper or in numerous trips to the post office. Your clients are most likely pretty harried so handing them a paper invoice when they get their dog or mailing them one will most likely mean that the bill will be forgotten about. Then, you will sit and wait to be paid as well as watch your cash flow dry up. However, by emailing that invoice with a payment portal link, your clients can pay from their smartphones or computers as soon as they receive, which they are more likely to do and add to your monthly cash flow.

Whether you are just starting out with your dog walking business or you are already established, it makes sense to automate this part of your business to reduce resources, increase cash flow, and give you more time to market and make money.

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Best known as an Entrepreneur and Connector. John was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine as well as a blogging expert by Forbes. He is the Founder and CEO of Due.

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