Recession proof your pet business

Learn the three keys to running a successful business even in hard times.

Economists predict recession in 2023, a troubling forecast for any business. Does this spell doom for pet sitters and dog walkers? Not if you follow these steps and plan for both boom and bust times.


Economic history

The economy in any area is subject to fluctuation over time. Some fluctuations are national, like inflation or recession. Some are local like the Dot-Com boom and bust in Silicon Valley, or the opening or shutting down of a factory that employs the majority of the residents in the area.

Between 2017-2019 California experienced a series of devastating wildfires. As a result, tree companies had more work than they could schedule cleaning up all the dead and damaged trees. In the years following the fires, tree company owners got used to consistently making large amounts of money. At some point the work was all completed and these owners found themselves facing a greatly reduced workload and income.

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Here are the three keys to recession proofing your business.

Diversity

A key to a long-term successful business is serving a diverse client base. As in the tree example, when all efforts are focused on one kind of client, when that client base lessens or goes away altogether, you will experience a significant drop in revenue.

What is diversity in pet sitting?

Clients with different economic backgrounds: wealthy, successful, working class, average.

Clients needing different services: executives who travel frequently for business, families who travel only at holidays, moms with young children or elders who need help with dog walking.

These groups will be affected differently or not at all by broader economic changes.


Pivoting

While one kind of service may be your bread and butter, when things change it helps to have other services to offer. Dog walks are great regular income, but in many cases are a luxury quickly given up when owners don’t have disposable income. Sitters reliant on vacation care were stopped in their tracks by covid lockdown. While this is an extreme example, it shows how quickly and unexpectedly things can change

Adjust to what people need at the time, what problem they need to solve. One vet tech started doing in-home nail trims during lockdown when owners couldn’t get vet or groomer appointments. Think of everything from luxury services like pet portraiture to necessities like pet supply delivery.


Money management

Self employment requires discipline and management of one’s own time and resources. It is easy to overspend when times are good. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor, but be prudent. For example, I bought myself a new custom saddle last year, but that was my only extravagant expense. The rest of my income was spent prudently or saved.

Most boom times are situational and don’t last forever. They are a great opportunity to set aside money for future use, whether during a bust time or when you need some time to yourself. You might be dealing with health problems, starting a family, or just needing a break. Having a cushion can give you the freedom to do so.

Spend a little, save and invest a lot. Any financial advisor will tell you this. Self-employed don’t have company retirement plans so we have to take responsibility for our own future.

Be especially careful with spending long-term, like buying a house or car based on boom time income! When income levels drop those big payments will still have to be made or you will ruin your credit and possibly lose the house or car.