If you’re looking to start your own pet business and love animals, one area you might have thought about is pet food. In particular, treats and meals for dogs and cats incorporate a vast industry that doesn’t seem set to slow down anytime soon.
However, you’ll have plenty of competition to go up against, too, so you need to set yourself up for success by being innovative and strategic about how you create your new venture.
One of the first things you need to concentrate on is research. Learn as much about the pet food market as possible and about the people who buy it. Discover what shoppers do and don’t want, the prices they’re willing to pay, how and when they browse and purchase, and many other details. The more you know about the market, the clearer you can be about what to offer it.
You’ll want to research competitors, too. Before launching a new pet food business, you must clarify what’s currently available, what other companies do well, and where they perform poorly. Look for gaps in the market that you can fill. This may be in the products you sell but could also be in areas such as customer support, sales or marketing strategies, price points, the type of customer targeted, and so on.
Use the information you learn during your research to work out your niche in the pet food arena. You don’t want to try to be everything to everyone. Instead, look for a particular customer type to focus on and a market area to dominate. For instance, perhaps you’ll target pet food designed for certain dog or cat breeds, such as those with food allergies that aren’t currently being catered to. Find an area where you think you can excel and brand and build your business as a result.
The next step is planning. Develop a comprehensive business plan that details what you’ll sell, where you’ll sell it, the price points you’ll put on items, the type of branding and marketing ideas you have, and the sales channels you’re focused on. Nut out the roles and responsibilities of each owner, if multiple, and your goals for the firm and ideas for potential expansion and scalability.
A thorough plan incorporates a SWOT analysis, too. This strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats matrix will note where you think the positives are for your potential venture and the potential negatives you need to try to avoid.
Many startups fold within the first one, two, or five years of opening due to a lack of cash flow and other financial issues. Give your business the best chance of success by paying close attention to money matters. You may need to get investors into the venture so you can design it and grow it how you plan. It’s vital to make some financial projections, too, to see how and when the organization might break even and make a profit and what’s required to make this happen.
Also Read: 5 Tips For Planning Your Personal Finances
Plus, set up a comprehensive budget for you and your team to follow over the first year or so. Carefully investigate all the relevant business costs so you don’t start by running things blindly and expecting results that aren’t feasible. It also pays to speak with advisors such as accountants, lawyers, and financial planners for advice.
The sales side of any business is crucial and something not to skim over when designing, launching, and growing your venture. Think about the best way(s) to gain access to your chosen customer types and if you’ll only sell your pet food products yourself, online or at markets, etc., or if you need to get retailers or distributors on board.
Think about packaging and shipping, too. When dealing with food items, it’s vital to ensure they last well in transit and don’t get damaged or go bad before they can get to customers. You may need to employ helpful temperature tracking technology for this, such as the tools offered by Spotsee.
If you’ve never operated a business before or you have but not in the pet food area, it’s wise to find yourself mentors. Select people who have been in your shoes in some capacity before and understand business and the pet food industry well. Many entrepreneurs find it helps to have multiple mentors who are experts in different operational areas.
Be willing to listen to the mentors you work with, even when you may not agree at first or feel defensive, and use them as listening posts when you need to talk through your ideas and decisions.
These are some of the top things to do before and when starting a new pet food business. Take your time getting everything in place before you launch, and be open to new information as you learn and grow as an entrepreneur.