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Top 5 mistakes I’ve made when I started my pet sitting business

4 years ago · · Comments Off on Top 5 mistakes I’ve made when I started my pet sitting business

Top 5 mistakes I’ve made when I started my pet sitting business

It is a very uncomfortable question, but I ask it all the time…

“What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?”  

I feel that I can learn so much more from what others did wrong instead of what they did right… Not sure why, I guess that’s how I roll…  So, since I bring this question up with others, it is only natural that I have to ask this of myself.   Otherwise, I simply couldn’t call myself consistent…  As a result, I decided to push through the discomfort of this topic and put together a list of top 5 things that I did WRONG when starting and growing my pet sitting business…. Hopefully you can learn from me and not repeat the mistakes I’ve made… Here it goes…

5.  I didn’t ask questions.  

When I first started, I became a member of several pet sitting discussion boards and groups.  I was reading every post but I wasn’t engaging in conversations with pet sitters who have been doing it much longer than I have… I was just sitting on the sidelines and gathering all the information I could get.  I didn’t want to ask questions.  I didn’t ask for help or mentoring.  I just didn’t want to look stupid or inexperienced or like I didn’t know what I was doing…  If I had to do it all over again, I’d start building my pet sitter friends network sooner than when I did…  I just wish I had enough guts to admit that I was new and inexperienced, and that would have softened my learning curve…

4.  I didn’t expand by hiring ICs or employees soon enough.

One can’t do it all alone… One needs help, no matter whether you have a small company that covers just 2 zip codes or if you have a large multi-city operation.   A person has to have a balanced life of work and play, and pet sitting can get you sucked into on-going 7-days schedule very quickly… Plan your growth and hire help, or you’ll resent your lifestyle…

3.  I let others intimidate me and influence how I felt about my work

Pet sitting is such an under-the-radar niche, and many people don’t realize that it can be a full time job… I started to network with other businesses and realized that I had to really explain what I did for a living… I was trying to look like I was a real business but I felt like I was just walking dogs and figuring things out…  I was trying to look at other pet sitting businesses’ websites and see what they were doing and what was making them successful… until I realized that there is no magic formula to success… I decided that I’ll see what others are doing but I won’t and can’t copy their path.  Although their paths and businesses looked so much more professional and successful than mine, I had to step outside of my head and just rely on things that simply make sense… That’s when I realized that all it takes is to be open and vulnerable and human to see what you need and to see what your business needs.  That was the best aha-moment for me, but I wish it came to me sooner than when it did…

2.  I didn’t invest in pet sitting business management software early enough.

I didn’t want the overhead.  I wanted to control my access to clients and schedule, and keeping it on my personal computer was the safest way.  At one point, I had to trust the web.  I knew that in order to grow and hire staff, I’d have to keep my files accessible to others.  Once I did my research and decided on a vendor, I had to close my eyes, take the plunge and trust that I’ve made the right decision… Which now brings me to my next point….

1.  I didn’t take more risks.

When I look at Olga Wharton in 2003 when I just started my pet sitting business, I can’t help but feel sorry for that girl…. That was the girl who had a vision but was too scared to believe in all the possibilities.  That was the girl who was taking baby steps forward but still looking back and thinking about all the “what ifs” that she was leaving behind.  If I could meet that Olga Wharton right now, I would lean over and whisper in her ear: “Believe in what you know you can do.  Trust your gut feeling.” But knowing myself back then, I am pretty sure I’d ignore that whisper… So I’d grab myself by the shoulders, give myself a good shake and shout right in my face: “DREAM BIG.  SPRINT TOWARDS YOUR GOAL AND DON’T EVER LOOK BACK.  Ever.”

Cover photo source: John St. John, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpstjohn/, CC BY 2.0


Categories: Pet Sitting Advise Column

Olga Wharton

Olga Wharton

DFW Pet Sitting Services is not just a business for me. It's a close-knit family of pet sitters and pet owners. We all have one common denominator: our love for pets. We trust each other, we do the right thing, and we appreciate all the lessons our pets have taught us. Every day we are fortunate to experience the unconditional love of our pets. We never take it for granted. We are thankful for our clients and their pets for enriching our lives every day.