August 21, 2009

Weekend Business Idea -- Dog Bakery at Home

Happy Saturday! Time to do some home based business brainstorming. Making dog treats and snacks from home is not new by any means, but is still worth taking a look at.

First, the start up costs can be kept within reason. Of course you would want to get the best and healthiest ingredients you can for your recipes, but you can start with small quantities at first.

Second, people love their pets. LOVE. Pet owners enjoy buying treats, especially healthy ones, for their pets. Free samples of your special dog treats would probably get pet owner's attention--and hopefully orders for more! So customers are out there for this product, you just need to reach them.

And with the holiday season approaching, pet parents will be looking for special pet gifts even more than normal.

As always, when starting a home based business, always check with your state's and city's business guidelines, and make sure you have all the necessary permits and licenses.

You will need to decide if you want to do your Pet Bakery as a D/B/A (doing business as)-meaning you register a Fictitious Name with your state and do business using that name, or if you want to Incorporate your business. There are advantages and disadvantages of doing it as a D/B/A as well as a corporation. So you may want to speak to a tax lawyer to have them advise you of which option would best suit you and your personal & financial situations.

You may decide that you want to incorporate your business, so that you keep your personal assets protected in the event that you face any legal troubles, etc. Again, you'll really want to check with a tax attorney to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this set up as well.

Additionally, you'll want to get a resellers certificate. This enables you to purchase items at wholesale, without having to pay tax on the items. When you sell products, you'll be required to charge your local state/county sales tax on items. You only collect tax on items sold in your state. If you're selling online, you do not have to collect tax on items sold out of state. But always double check everything, and check with legal experts.

A lot of people choose their business name based on if the website domain is available, if they plan on using the internet as a marketing avenue. Check with your State Fictitious Name Division to ensure that nobody else in your area is conducting business by that name. It IS possible and permissible for more than one person to register the same name in the same state if it's simply a fictitious name; however, if you incorporate there can NOT be two of the same names. Again, make sure you get proper legal advice.

When you check into the licensing, you will also want to check the labeling requirements of your area as well.

Come up with something eye catching and that will attract people to it. You should make it fairly simple so that when you use it in print it'll be easily recognized in black/white as well as in varied colors. Once you have it created, you'll want to put it on EVERYTHING! Your business cards, your labels, your letterhead, bags, fliers, order forms, brochures, catalogs, website (if you decide to do one) basically on everything!

All your business cards, order forms, information sheets, etc. should have the same basic information, such as: your logo, company name, address, phone number, fax number, website address (if you decide to go online), email address (again, if you decide to go online) and all other information to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact or locate your Pet Bakery.

The products should have labels as well; Think of the label as a selling point and part of your marketing segment that a lot of sellers don't pay attention to and thus fail in. If the information is right on the package of dog treats itself, that makes it so much easier for people to reorder.

Labels should also have your Company Logo• Company Name• Name of the Product• Ingredients of the Product• Special Instructions• Storing Requirements• Phone Number• Address• Website address/ email address (if you have)•

You can make your dog treats at home (again, check your local and state business license requirements), set up a web site, and sell them online. But of course no matter how delicious your dog bakery treats are, no one will know about them unless you do a lot of promoting.

Visit pet websites and blogs, leave comments, join forums, and build up traffic to your website.

Offer gift certificates for your delicious healthy homemade doggie treats as giveaways on pet related blogs.

Pass out free samples to friends, neighbors, at swap meets, dog parks, etc.

Magnetic signs for your vehicle are a great form of advertising as well.

Leave business cards and flyers and leave them wherever you can.

Think about offering free local delivery.

Try out as many recipes as you can. Do lots of "taste tests" with your four-footed partners(s)! Perfect your favorite ones (or your taste tester's favorite recipes!). Maybe become an expert in a certain type of treat for certain dog breeds.

When you bake your pet products (cookies, bones, biscuits) you'll want to make sure you let them cool completely before packaging. If they're even a slight bit warm, this will create moisture in the packaging and cause the products to ‘grow' and mold.

I have read that when baking dog treats, if you leave the cookies/bones/biscuits in the oven for a few hours after they're done, it removes all moisture and keeps them from getting moldy. IF time allows, let them stay in the oven overnight. This isn't always a possibility but it is recommended.

Consider using natural preservatives in recipes.They can prolong the life of the pet products and benefits the pets health and longevity.

If you're shipping items, you'll want to ship either via USPS Priority mail (for items such as dog cookies/bones) or via OVERNIGHT EXPRESS/FEDEX for items that need refrigerated. You'll always want to have your packages marked ‘fragile/perishable' so they won't be left out in the heat of the day or banged around and damaged. You'll need to decide your personal preference when it comes to UPS/USPS/FedEx/Airborne or any other delivery service. Some people swear by one or the other, everyone has their personal preferences and if a customer requests shipment by a preferred method, then try to accommodate them.

There is more information on starting a dog bakery in this article.....and if you are at all interested in this home business idea, it is a great place to start!

And don't forget to enjoy this week's TGIF WAHM DRINK RECIPE while you brainstorm home business ideas!

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