5 steps on how to start a small dog business online

Starting a small dog business

Dog adoption statistics increased significantly at the beginning of the pandemic. Although the stats have returned to relatively normal numbers now, that’s still a lot of households that now have new dogs. Add that to the number of households who already had dogs before the pandemic, and you’ve got a target market ready and waiting! If you’re looking for a new business opportunity, going into something dog-related is ideal.

dog business

Add that to the number of households who already had dogs before the pandemic, and you’ve got a target market ready and waiting! If you’re looking for a new business opportunity, going into something dog-related is ideal.

The other thing that’s changed significantly is that business has taken a huge turn towards being digital. It’s only logical, then, that learning how to start a small dog business online would be an excellent choice at this time.

Here’s our 5-step process to starting your own online dog business. Have fun and good luck!

Why online?

Not only is the online business world booming at the moment, but there are also relatively low start-up costs associated with an online business.

There’s no rent to be paid, no employees to give salaries and comparatively little funding that needs to go into it.

You’ll most likely have to spend a little upfront to get yourself set up, but there are few large monthly costs like a brick-and-mortar business has.

How to start a small dog business online

Niche down

Even within the “dog business” category, there are a number of different directions you can go in. Just some of the most popular ideas include:

  • Selling dog food (pre-packaged, homemade, or raw)
  • Organic/healthy dog treats
  • Grooming items and kits
  • Dog toys
  • Accessories
  • Bedding
  • Dog clothing
  • Dog training

You don’t have to stick to just one. If you’re planning on selling items, then you can go as specific or as general as you wish. Be aware, though, that there are already large online retailers selling plenty of dog accessories, so you’ll need to find a unique selling point that makes people want to buy from you specifically.

Personalised stuff is always a good way to go. So is healthy food and treats, although you may be limited in terms of locations you can ship these to.

In the beginning, it’s best to stick to just a few categories that are easy to manage. As your business grows, you can add more to your inventory.

Sort out details & logistics

Once you’ve decided on your niche, you’ll need to make plans. If you’re selling products, you’ll need to find a supplier to partner with, drop-shipping style. If you’re doing something like online dog training courses, then you’ll need to get to work creating videos or digital products.

It may be a good idea to create a business plan so you have a very clear idea of your goals, your target market and what exactly you’ll be offering. Now may also be a good time to conduct market research and make sure your chosen niche is viable.

It’s also the time to decide whether or not you need some funding behind your business. An online business typically has far fewer overhead costs than a physical business, but you’ll need to pay for registering your business, setting up a website, and perhaps some paid advertising in the beginning if you aren’t gaining a large following organically.

Brand yourself

If you want to be a success, you need to build relationships with your customers. It’s hard to do that if you’re a no-name brand without anything that sets you apart.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll be offering, decide on a business name and a logo. You’ll need these for things like your website, social media profiles and when others want to tell your friends about the place they bought that cute jersey for their dog.

Choose specific colours, a particular font for your name and if you can, get a logo professionally designed. You want to be eye-catching and memorable, but not overly complicated.

When deciding on a name, also make sure it looks good in a website URL. If it’s hard to spell, hard to remember or hard to see in a website address, it could make it harder for people to find you.

Create a website

If you want to be online, you need a website. This is where you’ll display all the items you’re selling so it’s easy for people to find what they want. There’s no need to pay web designers if you want a fairly simple website. You can get started using a free website builder like Wix or WordPress.

Make sure you set up your website for eCommerce from the start. People need to be able to buy through your site, so you’ll need to be integrated with a secure payment gateway. You want to work with known names here, like Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and so on.

You’ll have to pay for a website host if you want your site to be fully functional. Most hosts require a year’s payment upfront, but they’re generally affordable.

In the beginning, you should be able to handle orders on your own, especially if you’re ordering from a supplier and shipping to customers. But as your business grows, you’ll want to look at implementing an automated process so you no longer need to do it manually.

Get on social media

Social media is the new advertising. You can’t rely on just your website to bring in business. Most of the world is on social media, and groups, pages and businesses are constantly being shared.

Once you have a website to direct people to, create a Facebook page and an Instagram account. These two are the most appropriate platforms for eCommerce stores. If you’re targeting B2B clients then LinkedIn could be a good one too.

Do a bit of research about social media marketing strategies. You need to be sharing stuff that’s valuable to your customers to keep them coming back for more.

Conclusion

If you’ve been wondering why or how to start a small dog business online, this guide should give you a good starting point.

Planning is important, but there’s no substitute for action! If you follow the steps laid out here, you should be up and running in no time. Good luck!


Mike Powell has owned dogs all his life, and they’ve been part of every aspect of his life, including business. He shares his own knowledge and advice about all things dog, over at Dog Embassy.