How I Opened A Pet Store with Empty Pockets! No Cash? No Problem!

The pet industry is growing every year at a 6.1% rate consistently. That’s good news for anyone considering joining the industry. But what if you got no money? Is it still possible to build a pet business? Well, you are asking the right person.

Drop Shipping pet accessories is hands down the best way to get your foot in the business and earn a stable income without any significant capital. If you want to stand apart from other sellers, try starting a Shopify store, dog-walking service, daycare, etc.

I understand your primary concern is raising funds for a scalable business. However, all the strategies I have mentioned in this article are scalable. So, please take a deep breath and read how I started a pet business with no capital.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating a Drop-Shipping pet store is the most popular way to launch a business with zero money. You can also try opening a Shopify store to be unique.
  • A drop-shipping store is treated like any average brick-and-mortar store by the Federal Government.
  • You will have to pay taxes as well as register your pet business.
  • Registering the business trademark as soon as possible (before someone else gets it) is best.

How You Can Open A Pet Store Without Any Capital

The foundation of any business is its capital. You need money to launch it and then make it bigger. But that’s an old-fashioned business model. Nowadays, it’s possible to establish a scalable business without any money in your pocket. And I am saying it from experience. Take a pet store, for example. I didn’t have to rent a physical store to start a pet shop.

I saved time and energy by launching a dropshipping pet business. You must have heard about dropshipping if you have researched low-budget pet business models before. It’s an online business strategy that takes most of the business risk from your shoulders.

How Dropshipping Works

If you are wondering about the payment system, drop shippers get paid between 10% to 40% of the product’s price. It’s a fair deal, considering you are not paying to buy the inventories.

Here’s a detailed discussion of all the steps I took in my online pet business journey. I will simplify the steps and tell you precisely what you need to do.

Step 1: Picked Products I Wanted To Sell

First, you have to consider what type of pet products you want to keep in your store. Even though you will not buy them, you will still spend a lot of time marketing each item. It usually helps if to sell something if you are actually interested in it.

Also, it’s tough to target multiple market segments at once. So, all your products should be manufactured for similar customer groups. For example, one of my favorite pet niches is organic food & grooming essentials. You can include a lot of products, including dry or wet pellets, tasty treats, shampoos, conditioners, odor removers, gummies, supplements, etc. But if you notice, there’s a familiar pattern.

Almost every product has a slightly expensive organic alternative. Pet owners who are pretty conscious about their pet’s health and theirs will definitely draw towards your products. And, it would be easier for you to get the customer to come back if he is satisfied with his first purchase. Considering all your products target the “organic label” pet parents look for, they will try anything new you bring into the store.

That’s why picking the right product category is the key to success. I would suggest you take some time and research the customer mindset.

How Do You Manage A Pet Shop?

69 million U.S. households own at least one dog. (Source)

Step 2: Registered My Business

After picking out the products I liked, I registered my business. Of course, you would first need your company’s name. Don’t rush the process. Many people pick up a brand name last minute and regret later.

Find a catchy name like Chewy, Pawsome Store, Pet Prodigy, Simply Doggy, PetSmart and so on. You see, these names are easy to remember. Search the internet for some easy & enjoyable pet shop names.

Here are some interesting pet shop name ideas I am giving just for fun!

  1. Petique
  2. Pawsify
  3. Barkly
  4. Whiskerz
  5. Furrish
  6. Meowly
  7. Puptown
  8. Tailify
  9. Purrfecta
  10. Woofique
  11. Bark Bliss
  12. Paws Place
  13. Whisker Wagon
  14. Tail Trends
  15. Fuzz Factory
  16. Meow Manor
  17. Pup Parade
  18. Fur Fusion
  19. Tail Twist
  20. Paws Peak

The next step is to legally incorporate your company in any state of the country. All you will need is your company name, proprietorship (LLC or C-Corporation), registered agent’s information, mailing address, street address, and other personal information of the owner.

Most small businesses prefer LLCs as it allows a lower tax rate.

But take some time & find out all the pros and cons of both LLC & corporation.

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Finally, you fill out the form, pay a small fee (about $100), and wait for an EIN certificate. The registration fee should be the same in every state.

However, if you find the process a bit complicated, you can hire third-party agencies to do it for you. You just pay them a fee and help them with the necessary information.

Some noteworthy agencies are NorthWest, MyLLC & ZenBusiness.

Step 3: Opened A Business Bank Account

Registering your business protects your trademark from getting stolen by competitors. Plus, it allows businessmen to buy wholesale products without any tax. After that, I opened a business bank account and a professional mail address.

You need a business account to receive the money you make from dropshipping. As you will be sharing the bank details with multiple suppliers online, it’s better to not use your personal account.

The process of opening a business bank account is too simple. You provide the bank with your personal and business information. Remember the EIN and other certificates I acquired while registering the company? Those documents are important if you want a dedicated business account.

Pet shop with home animals, store interior with cat, dog, puppy, bird, fish in aquarium. Counter desk, accessories, food, toys, medicine on shelves. Petshop supermarket.

Step 4: Chose A Reliable Supplier

Finding a supplier is by far the most crucial part of this process. How else are you going to sell products? Luckily, I didn’t have to leave my house looking for reliable suppliers. They are just one Google search away. Type “pet product supplier in the USA.” A long list of reputable suppliers will appear.

However, my advice is to check the supplier’s credentials before trusting. Ask for their business registration number and check reviews. Also, the supplier must be okay with your selected customer group. After all, your supplier is the party sending final products to your customers.

Suppose the customer group is highly inclined toward all things natural. Then, you must find a supplier with access to premium products in the same niche.

Step 5: Received A Payment Gateway

The suppliers then ask for your business information as well (EIN, retail merchant certificate, tax certificate, etc). Provide all the documents diligently. Ensure you read the terms * and conditions and the refund or return policy carefully.

Once everything is set, the supplier will give you a payment gateway link to include in your website. It’s the same interface we all see while paying for a product online.

The manufacturers receive the payment and send you the commission in your bank account. It’s as simple as that.

Step 6: Started Building My Website

By then, I had products, a reliable supplier, and a brand name. But I needed an actual platform to showcase and sell. So, my very next step was to build a professional website. I am emphasizing the word “professional” here. You see, pet parents are highly sensitive about their furry friends. They wouldn’t trust a company with a shabby or slow website.

Considering it’s your shop, you should decorate it as much as possible. But before decoration, you need reliable hosting. Now, I know your first instinct will be to find a cheap hosting company. But I recommend you stick with a reputable company. You don’t want your customers to disappear because the website took too long to load, right?

It’s a good idea to subscribe to a monthly package for now. You can get away with only spending a little. Once you start making sales, you can buy a hosting subscription for the whole year.

24% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1981) own pets. (Source)

Step 7: Hired Professionals To Design My Online Store

Having a high-speed website is of no use if it looks dull and boring. Considering you are building a pet e-commerce shop, try to keep the website theme cute and elegant. I know designing a website and paying attention to every little detail is tedious. And, if you are not tech-savvy, I suggest hiring professionals to do it for you. I did the same.

You can just go to Fiverr and check out “website building” gigs. Trust me, they don’t charge as much as you are anticipating. Plus, you will have a neat website appealing to your visitors. That’s a fair deal.

Step 8: Mentioned The Return Policy Clearly

Apart from your contact info, please describe the return policy as well. It’s crucial as many customers return products for damage or whatever reason. And they will demand a refund from you.

In fact, some of them might complain about your business to local authorities if you don’t act up and give the money back. That’s why you need to have a clear & transparent list of terms and conditions on your website. That way, you can protect your new business against the possible lawsuits.

Step 9: Started Advertising My Business Online

Next up, I listed the products on my website with a price label. But nobody was interested in my products just yet. That’s why the next step was to advertise my business in front of potential buyers. I opened a business page on both Facebook & Instagram and showcased the products I had.

According to reports, TikTok currently has the highest conversion rate for small businesses. If you are good at making content, you should definitely try posting TikTok videos to reach more people.

Many people assume you can only advertise by running ads on social media. It’s an effective way, but not the only one. If you put in a little effort, you can reach customers without paying the platforms any money. Just engage in the groups that discuss issues related to your products. Insightful posts or comments help establish yourself as a knowledgeable and reliable seller.

Pet store for dogs, cats, birds and other domestic animals square frame border pattern colored background . Vector illustration doodles, set of pet shop supplies in thin line art sketch style

Step 10: Prioritized Excellent Customer Support

Don’t be a seller who only thinks about marketing. Your aim should be to satisfy your customers.

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It doesn’t matter if a lot of people visit your website and order something. If they are not happy, they won’t return. Plus, the negative reviews will overpower all your marketing efforts. So, do pay attention to what the buyers say about your products.

If they face any issue with shipping or accidentally end up with a wrong parcel, do your best to solve it. One of my strategies was to follow up with the customers. Asking the customers how they liked the product, regularly updating them when a new shipment of similar products arrived helped secure a loyal customer base.

Step 11: I Got Paid!

Finally, the most fun part of the whole process was receiving a paycheck from my supplier. Ensure you don’t make any mistake while giving the account number, business mailing address, and street number.

“Building a business with zero money” is not always a total scam.

But you have to compensate for the capital with lots of planning & hard work. The best part is that you don’t have the risk of losing money if the business fails. So, why not give it a chance anyway?

5.7 million households own a reptile. (Source)

Cons Of Dropshipping Pet Products

The majority of buyers don’t like dropshipping stores at all. They prefer buying from the actual manufacturer. But that’s not all. There are multiple disadvantages to dropshipping pet products for the seller as well (you). For example:

  • You don’t have direct control over the quality of the product.
  • Even though you have done everything right, the customer will leave a negative review if the product isn’t satisfying.
  • Sometimes, the actual manufacturers send the wrong packages or, worse, don’t send one.
  • It’s very difficult for you to pick a high-quality & high-ticket product without actually touching it.
  • Customers get thrown off if they find out you are not the actual manufacturer.

The problem is that some people earn a lot of money with dropshipping. And then, they advertise their monthly sales to be a norm. But if you ask me, it takes good judgment to be successful in this business. You have to pick & promote a solid product at the end of the day. Otherwise, convincing people visiting your website to convert can be extremely tough.

Drop shopping online e-commerce business concept example, easy five steps scheme, modern vector illustration collection - choosing supplier product, listing items online, selling and delivering.

Pet Business You Can Start Today With Empty Pocket

I understand if you are a little hesitant to start a dropshipping business. Many people prefer having their own “product” to sell. The business is more scalable if the service is under your control. You should be able to fix the quality in the face of customer complaints. Dropshipping doesn’t allow you that.

I have handpicked some unique pet business ideas that don’t require capital. Have a look.

1. Start A Pet Shop On Shopify

If you have some experience in graphic designing, you have a lot of potential as a successful Shopify seller. You can create cute designs for coffee mugs, tea shirts, bed sheets, and keychains. Create those designs on Canva & upload them to your Shopify store. Once a customer orders your product, Shopify will print your designs on the items and ship them off. You can simply enjoy the commissions without investing in the products.

You can implement this business model even if you are not creative. You can simply hire someone from Fiverr to communicate your product vision.

The global pet care industry is projected to be worth over $260 billion by 2025. (Source)

2. Sell Customized Meal-Plan For Pets

Shopify and DropShipping stores are becoming too competitive. Pick a less-traveled road if you don’t want to be in this race. Try setting up a customized meal-planning business. Here’s how it works.

Every breed of dog or cat has different nutrition requirements. They have different eating habits, allergic reactions, etc. The owners can’t learn these habits beforehand. Most of the time, the owners look for experienced people online or offline to help them plan a proper meal for their new guests. Now, you can step in and reduce their frustration.

If you already own pets, you should know what type of meal is right for that animal. You can also take the help of online resources and vets near you. Once you know what type of food the animal naturally likes, you can set up a weekly meal plan. Depending on an animal’s nutrition requirement, you can suggest the best pet food suitable for the animal.

You can also ask the customer to subscribe to the service every week for a ready-made and healthy meal chart. You can make huge money from this business if you have sufficient knowledge of pet food and nutrition.

The pet industry is expected to reach $358.62 billion by 2027. (Source)

3. Sell Membership Subscription For Your Pet Consultancy

The concept is the same as my previous strategy. But this time, you will be selling your consultancy instead of meal plans. You see, pet owners often rescue an animal from the shelter. So, they have no idea what to expect and how to train the animal. Even if the pet is in good mental condition, the owners might need an experienced person to guide them on the journey.

It requires a lot of knowledge. So, I would only suggest you continue on this path if you have prior experience with lots of pets.

4. Pet-Sitting Business

The dog or cat-sitting business is nothing new. But still, this service is always in high demand. And, if you are good at marketing your services, you will have a booked schedule pretty soon. I recommend starting within your neighborhood first. Get some good reviews and let the word spread. Besides pet-sitting, you can include a dog-walking service as well.

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If you have more budget, I would have also suggested adding grooming services to your website.

5. Pet Daycare Center

It’s similar to dog-sitting but way more scalable. You can convert one part of your house into a pet daycare. Next, all you have to do is let the pet parents know about your new venture. It doesn’t require any special skill except that you love animals. The best part of this business model is that you don’t always have to look for customers. Usually, pet owners don’t prefer changing the daycare so often. It is mentally difficult for the animal.

6. Manage Pet’s Social Media

Not just influencers but some celebrity pets need to manage their social handles as well. Now, these four-legged species can’t possibly upload photos by themselves, can they? And, if the owner remains busy, too, a manager would be a must. You can chip in and manage posts on the Instagram page. You receive a paycheck like any other job at the end of every month.

If you are good at social media management, you can train some other people and start your own agency.

Pet industry spending has increased by 115% since 2011. (Source)

Global Pet Industry Statistics & Trends Infographic

Legit Pet Store Ideas With Very Low Budget

I have given enough ideas to fuel your brainstorming. The options are very limited if you emphasize “no money.” But if you are okay with raising a small fund to start your business, I can help you with more amazing ideas.

For example, homemade pet food is trending right now. Pet owners have become aware of canned food’s harmful chemicals or additives. They want their pets to be as healthy as themselves and eat only the best. You don’t have to include every type of meal a pet needs. You can only pick desserts or treats. There are organic treat recipes that only need three ingredients.

It’s super easy to bake and looks really good too. You can make your first batch and upload the photos on your social media. I know many pet food businesses that started this way.

How To Use Other Peoples’ Money For Starting Your Pet Business?

Using other people’s money (OPM) to start a business is a common strategy in the entrepreneurial world. It allows you to leverage external funding sources to launch or expand your venture without depleting your own savings. If you’re considering starting a pet business, here’s how you can use OPM:

  1. Business Loans: Traditional banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer business loans to startups and existing businesses. Before applying, ensure you have a solid business plan, good credit history, and collateral if required.
  2. Angel Investors: These are individuals who provide capital for a business startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. They can be found through networking events, online platforms, or referrals.
  3. Venture Capitalists: VC firms invest in startups in exchange for equity. They usually come in when you have a proven business model and are looking to scale. VC funding is competitive, so you’ll need a compelling pitch and growth potential.
  4. Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow you to present your business idea to the public. If people like your idea, they can pledge money to help you get started. This method is great for innovative pet products or services.
  5. Friends and Family: Sometimes, your closest connections believe in your vision and are willing to invest. However, be cautious and transparent about the risks involved. It’s essential to maintain trust and ensure relationships aren’t strained due to business issues.
  6. Partnerships: Consider finding a business partner who believes in your idea and is willing to invest money into the venture. This not only provides funding but also brings in additional expertise and support.
  7. Grants: Some government programs, non-profits, and corporations offer grants to startups, especially if they align with certain goals or causes. Research pet-related or small business grants available in your region.
  8. Trade Credit: Once your pet business is operational, you can negotiate terms with suppliers to pay for goods or services at a later date. This allows you to use the products to generate revenue before paying for them.
  9. Leasing: Instead of purchasing equipment outright, consider leasing. This can help you get the tools you need without a significant upfront cost.
  10. Competitions: Many organizations host business plan or startup competitions with cash prizes. If you have a unique pet business idea, entering such competitions can provide both funding and exposure.

Be Aware Of These

  • Always understand the terms and conditions of any funding source. Be aware of interest rates, equity stakes, and repayment terms.
  • Maintain a clear and transparent communication channel with your investors or lenders.
  • Ensure you have a detailed business plan that outlines how you’ll use the funds and how you plan to generate revenue.

The US pet industry reached $123.6 billion in sales in 2021. (Source)

Before You Leave!

Hopefully, you have picked one business idea that suits your budget and taste. If not, check out my other article discussing 13 unusual pet business ideas that will inspire you. I have enlisted some less competitive yet demanding pet business ideas with huge growth potential.

Article link: 13 Unusual pet business ideas to inspire you.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.

Disclaimer

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