If you love dogs and have been thinking about starting a small business in the dog industry, it couldn’t be at a better time. A 2014 study by Packaged Facts, which monitors the pet market and surveys owners to gather data, estimates that pet spending will rise to $8.3 billion per year by 2018 in Canada.
The study also showed that even during times of economic difficulty, pet owners are unwilling to cut corners when it comes to the well-being of their pets. An Ipsos Reid study even found 8 in 10 Canadian pet owners considered their pet a family member, making dog business good business.
If you’ve been thinking of starting a small business in the dog industry, here are some pointers to start you off on the right foot.
Solve a Problem by Thinking Out of the Puppy Box
One of the easiest and efficient ways to think of an idea for a dog product is to make a product that solves an existing problem. For example, Brooke Martin had a dog with severe separation anxiety. She wanted her dog to feel more comfortable when she was away from her, so she founded iCPooch, a video conferencing tool and treat dispenser, where you can speak to your dog from your handheld device and give him a treat wirelessly.
Some great ways to find dog industry problems are to:
- Talk to dog owners about problems they encounter (this can be casually, or formally in focus groups).
- Set up Google Alerts to hear the latest news regarding dogs and scan for common problems.
- Contact dog industry professionals such as groomers, breeders and non-profits etc. and ask them about common problems they encounter.
- Scan through negative Amazon reviews for popular dog products and jot down the issues people complain about
Sniff Around for Clues Using Market Research
Let’s say you want to make a snazzy, polka-dot, GPS locatable dog collar that plays country music hits, Market research can help you figure out if your idea is viable. For example, after market research, you may find that dog owners prefer yellow dog collars that don’t play country music and that a huge retailer is looking to partner with a company that makes collars with technology just like yours.
Market research opens you up to a wealth of knowledge that you would not likely think of, such as finding business opportunities, setting up realistic targets, identifying customers, and developing business strategies. If you don’t do market research, you are mostly depending on luck for business success.
Get A Mentor To Help You Bark Up The Right Tree
Both dogs and humans know venturing into new territory can be intimidating. But when you have someone who’s cleared the dark pathway before, the future can seem a whole lot clearer.
If you are new to the dog industry, one of the easiest ways to double your chances of staying in business past five years is to get a mentor. For example Rikki Cargo is the Founder of the Vancouver-based raw dog treat company Pawsh Chops. She found that her mentor, Praveen Varshney of Varshney Capital Corp., helped her succeed by introducing her to networks and organizations, prepared her to integrate the right strategies and ideas into her business, taught her the art of deal negotiation and recommended her product to his peer group.
Mentors can also introduce you to key contacts for future partnerships, show you blind spots you may be missing in your business, invite you to important industry events and provide you support when you feel alone on your journey.
Want to know more? Take advantage of Small Business BC’s wide selection of seminars for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners. Space is limited, so don’t miss your chance to register today.
Plus, don’t forget that you can meet one-on-one with an expert to get specific information that applies to your business by booking an appointment with Small Business BC’s Ask the Expert service now.