We’ve all heard about how we should be doing what we love and how we should be pursuing our dreams. For many, it is going through flight school to become a pilot and travel the world. For others, it is leaving behind the comforts of their home in the hopes of being able to contribute to humanity by immersing in a small community where there is not even electricity and books are hard to find.
And for some of us, the dream is to be able to work and earn as we would if we were at some multinational corporation while keeping our hours flexible and being constantly in the company of the world’s best buddies--the canines! Well, this is certainly possible and not too difficult to achieve.
If you’ve been wanting to be a professional dog walker but just don’t know where to start, here are three very important steps to becoming a professional dog walker.
Get yourself educated about professional dog walking
Of course, loving dogs, enjoying their company, and being willing to clean after their mess are basic requirements to be able to succeed in the dog-walking profession. After all, we’re talking about doing what you love, right? But it doesn’t stop there. Becoming a professional dog walker actually requires a good amount of education too. You can either go to a dog walking school or get into an online certificate course for dog walking. You’ll need to learn how to handle dogs and understand them better, learn about basic training, emergency planning, canine first aid training and CPR, and other dog-walking related matters that will be very important to your success as a professional dog walker.
Learn how to set up your own dog walking business
It is great to be able to spend time in the outdoors playing with dogs and perhaps teaching them new tricks too. But if you’re a dog lover, you probably have your own dogs and would like to spend more time with them too. And eventually, you might want to spend some time learning or trying new things; but still be able to maintain revenue; or better yet, even increase revenue. Achieve this by learning how to start your own dog walking business. By getting a business education, you learn a different set of skills. You’ll learn how to come up with a business plan, how to market your dog walking services, how to price these services, and how to keep everything organized by setting up policies and know-how to implement them.
You also need to know about and be on top of things like accounting and taxes, and dog walking business insurance. It may not be a traditional one, but a dog walking business is still a business. You’d want to be on top of your financials and you’d want your business, your employees, and the dogs you care for and their owners, to be protected from financial losses and emotional stress should unwanted situations that involve property damage or injury arise.
Have a transition plan
Any transition, whatever the nature, requires some form of planning. You don’t just think about moving to another state now, start packing this afternoon and leave tomorrow. You most certainly should not leave a full-time job right away just because you’ve decided on becoming a professional dog walker or that you’ve decided to start your own dog walking business.
To avoid stressful situations such as worrying about your finances, you need to have a plan. This is the time for an honest-to-goodness reality check. Because each of our situations and personal circumstances is unique to us, there is no one-size-fits-all transitions plan. But there are a few things you need to consider before deciding how you want to move forward.
Check your savings and cash flow
Will your current savings and extra income (i.e. income you will continue to receive even if you quit your full-time job, specifically rent income or cash dividends from stocks) allow you to quit your current job and still be able to cover your monthly expenses without feeling the pressure of not knowing how to make ends meet? And remember to take into consideration how much it will cost to get the education you need to become a professional dog walker.
- If your current savings isn’t enough to cover expenses for a few months, then perhaps an option would be to get into an online certification course while also working full-time.
- After you get the proper education, you may want to maintain your full-time job as you start building your business. Walk dogs before or after work hours and on weekends until you feel you have enough clients and the income can now replace what you earn from your full-time job. Another option is to transition into working part-time so you can put in more hours for your business.
- Your support network
If you are the breadwinner in the family, is there anyone or others in the family who can step up and give you the time you need to pursue your new career? Or at least someone who can help with expenses while you work part-time? Also is this decision solely yours to make? If you have a partner or share household responsibilities, this is something you might need to discuss in detail with them.
The most important thing to remember is for you to not make your decision on impulse. If you’re planning on getting into professional dog walking full-time, there is a good amount of work to be done. Check out the pros and cons and weigh your options. The last thing you’d want is to start your new career on the wrong foot and experience too much pressure that you just decide to quit anyway.
It would be good to note that there are courses available for transition planning and consultation services too. And look at that...one more opportunity for you if you start on the right foot. You can eventually get into consulting and help other aspiring professional dog walkers in the future.
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