Starting your own business can nurture your entrepreneurial spirit, earn you some money and give you the opportunity to spend more time with your family — including your pets. So what job can you do that doesn't necessarily require a degree, affords you time flexibility, is in a growing industry and will be something you love?
Two words: pet products!
"The pet product and services industry can be a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs," says Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). "Often, all that's needed are a good idea and a love of animals to start your own business. And with demand for pet products and services, especially higher-end offerings, continuing to grow, opportunities in the industry will increase accordingly."
Pets by the numbers
Americans spent more than $66 billion on pet products and care in 2016, according to the American Pet Products Association. And according to APPA's new 2017/2018 National Pet Owners Survey, nearly 142.8 million American households are home to approximately 390 million dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, horses and small animals.
With all those pets needing care, food, toys, healthy treats and other accouterments, is it any wonder the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in the animal care and service industry will grow faster than average between now and 2024?
Certain areas of the pet products and care industry are poised to grow even faster, Vetere predicts. "Food, over-the-counter health products and supplies constituted the largest portion of spending in 2016," he says. "The pet humanization trend is driving growth at the premium end of the market."
If you're looking to start your own pet-related business, 2016 spending trends point to these jobs as ones that could pay off for entrepreneurs:
* Create your own botanical/organic grooming products. Just as interest has grown in human products that are better for people and the environment, demand is increasing for organic pet products, too.
* Launch a line of gourmet dog biscuits. All it takes is a great recipe, an oven and a bit of marketing savvy to start selling high-end doggie treats.
* Concoct a potty solution. Let's face it: If you've got pets, you've got pet poop, and no one really relishes dealing with it. However, pet poop presents a number of business opportunities, from creating a portable dog potty or revolutionary pickup product to providing a yard cleanup service.
* Build custom play lands and sleeping platforms for cats. A little woodworking expertise, some creativity, knowledge of cats, and work space in the garage are all you need to begin creating luxurious, custom-made wonderlands for some lucky felines.
* Create a line of designer pet wear. From glamorous collars to snugly sweaters and sweet bandanas, today's pets are well dressed. Put your knowledge of sewing and your passion for design together to develop high-fashion pet wear.
* Start up your own specialty pet-sitting service. Want to differentiate yourself from the competition? Try specializing in care for less common pets like fish, reptiles and birds. While it's not difficult to find someone to feed a cat or walk a dog while a pet owner is away, it can be harder to find caregivers with the expertise (and willingness) to take care of a pet snake or iguana.
"Pets enrich the lives of their human companions on a daily basis," Vetere says. "If you love pets, creating pet products and offering pet care services can be a rewarding career opportunity on many levels."