Starting a pet store can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful pet store.
Importantly, a critical step in starting a pet store is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here.
14 Steps To Start a Pet Store:
- Choose the Name for Your Pet Store
- Develop Your Pet Store Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your Pet Store
- Secure Startup Funding for Your Pet Store (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your Pet Store with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your Pet Store
- Buy or Lease the Right Pet Store Equipment
- Develop Your Pet Store Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Pet Store
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your Pet Store
The first step to starting a pet store is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your own pet shop:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your pet store.
2. Develop Your Pet Store Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting a pet store is to develop your business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your pet store.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your pet store and what type of pet store you operate. For example, are you a boutique store, independent store, or a franchise of a large, corporate store.
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the pet store industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing products or services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract repeat customers to your pet store? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your pet store make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Pet Store
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your pet shop and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the pet store owner and the business are the same legal person. The business owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to open a pet store together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a pet store include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a pet store is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your own business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Pet Store (If Needed)
In developing your pet store business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for a pet shop to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a pet store that they believe has high potential for growth.
5. Secure a Location for Your Business
There are a few things you’ll want to take into account when looking for a location for your pet store. First, you’ll want to make sure that it is a area is accessible and has good foot traffic. You’ll also want to find a space that is large enough to accommodate your inventory, as well as a work area for you. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that the location is affordable and that there is enough parking available.
6. Register Your Pet Store with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
7. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your pet store’s name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
8. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your pet store to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
In order to start a pet store, you will need a business license and a permit to sell pets. You may also need a zoning permit if your store is located in a residential area. Each state has its own regulations when it comes to selling pets, so please check with your local government for the specific pet store laws in your area.
10. Get Business Insurance for Your Pet Store
To operate a pet store, you will need a pet store insurance. This is a type of insurance that protects you from any potential liability arising from the sale of animals. This type of insurance can help protect you from lawsuits related to animal bites or other injuries, as well as damage or loss of property.
Other business insurance policies that you should consider for your pet shop include:
- General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
- Business Interruption Insurance: Also referred to as business income insurance, this type of policy steps in if your shop is damaged and you’re unable to operate. It can cover everything from lost profits to the cost to temporarily relocate.
- Commercial Auto Insurance: This covers your vehicles and drivers if your business makes deliveries or transports animals.
- Inland Marine Insurance: This covers animals and any products that are transported by your employees.
- Product Liability Insurance: This covers pets or humans that are injured or become ill from one of your products.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
11. Buy or Lease the Right Pet Store Equipment
To run a pet store, you will need a cash register, a computer, and a telephone. You will also need a secure place to put your inventory (shelves and displays for the retail floor, and a storage area in the stock room). You may also need a place for grooming and boarding pets, as well as a separate area for potential pet adopters (“adoption center”). For indoor animals such as fish, you will need aquariums with heaters and filters. If you want to sell outdoor species such as rabbits or turtles, you will need enclosures and heat lamps.
12. Develop Your Pet Store Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your pet shop.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your pet store. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional pet store website provides potential customers with information about the pet products and/or services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media platforms will help customers and others find and interact with your pet store.
13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Pet Store
In order to run a successful business, you’d need to have software that helps pace your inventory and track your sales. You will need software that will help you keep track of your customer data. You will also need a Point of Sale (POS) system to process transactions.
14. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your pet store. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start a Pet Store FAQs
Is it hard to start a pet store?
Starting any business is always a challenge, but with careful planning and execution, it can be done. The most important thing to do when starting any business is to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the industry you're getting into, the competitive landscape, what your target market is, and what your unique selling proposition is. From there, you'll need to put together a business plan and funding strategy, and then execute on your plan. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started, so don't be afraid to reach out for help.
How can I start a pet store with no experience?
Well, the best way to start is to do some research. Look into what it takes to own and operate a pet store, what kind of licenses or permits you may need, what kind of insurance you'll need, and what kind of financial investment you'll need to make. You may also want to reach out to local pet store owners and ask them about their experiences, what they would have done differently, and any advice they may have for someone starting out in the industry. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who are more than happy to offer their expertise and help get your business off the ground.
What type of pet store is most profitable?
There is no one definitive answer to this question. Different types of pet stores can be profitable in different ways. For example, a small pet store might focus on selling high-margin items like exotic fish or small animals, while a larger pet store might have a wider variety of products and services, including grooming, boarding, and training. Ultimately, the most profitable type of pet store will depend on the specific niche that it fills and the preferences of its target market.
How much does it cost to start a pet store?
The cost of opening a pet store will vary depending on the size and scope of your business. That said, there are some general costs involved when starting a pet store. These costs may include:
- Rental or purchase of a pet store space
- Construction or renovation of your retail space
- Purchase of inventory
- Marketing and advertising expenses
- Licensing and regulatory fees
What are the ongoing expenses for a pet store?
The ongoing expenses for a pet store can be broken down into the following categories:
- Rent or mortgage
- Property taxes
- Heating, cooling, and lighting
- Employee salaries
- Advertising and marketing
- Pet supplies (food, toys, crates, etc.)
- Pet care
How does a pet store make money?
A pet shop owner can make money in a few different ways. One of the most common is by selling pets like puppies and kittens to dog and cat owners. Another way that most pet stores make money is through their supplements and food products that people buy for their pets each year. Stores also sell pet accessories like leashes and toys. Lastly, some pet shops generate revenue by offering pet services like grooming, dog training, dog walking, boarding and more.
Is owning a pet store profitable?
Yes, a pet store is a lucrative business. There are a few reasons why owning a pet store can be profitable. One reason is that pet owners are often very loyal to their pet stores, and will continue to shop there even during tough economic times. In addition, the pet industry is growing rapidly, as more and more people are choosing to own pets. This growth provides opportunities for pet store owners to increase their profits by expanding their product offerings and by increasing their sales volume. Finally, the pet industry is recession-proof, which means that even when the economy is struggling, animal lovers will continue to spend money on their pets.
Why do pet stores fail?
One reason many pet stores may fail is because they do not have the right inventory or they do not specialize in a specific type of pet. For example, if a store specializes in dogs, they may not have the necessary supplies for fish or other animals. Additionally, stores may fail because they are not properly managed, which can lead to poor customer service and financial instability. When stores do not have the right supplies for specific animals or they fail to offer much-needed services such as training and pet assistance, they will likely lose business.