Pet sitting as a Lifestyle Business
Updated: Apr 11
Living life on your own terms is one big reason why people decide to start their own business - any type of business. They can develop the business to be whatever they want, with no boss hanging over their heads, the freedom to have the final say, and doing what is most comfortable for themselves while using their skills in a way that a traditional boss or company may not let them. You can let your creativity and uniqueness shine!
I've used the term "Lifestyle Business" to describe my pet sitting business and I'd like to share that philosophy with you, my pet-loving reader, so that perhaps it is something that will help you in the business you currently run or are thinking of running. It is also something I believe will be of benefit to pet owners as well as sitters because this might help a pet owner choose the sitter that is right for them.
Above and beyond the reasons given in the first paragraph, a lifestyle business, from my perspective, is a way of thinking that impacts how a business is managed. It is a philosophy of sorts that not only provides the services clients need but is managed every day in a way that positively benefits the business owner in ways that are not always just financial.
For the one-month-shy of 16 years that I ran my professional pet sitting business, I measured success by the quality of service I provided more than the number of clients I had accumulated and the amount of money I made. That might be counter-intuitive for some but it worked for me. Money wasn't the "be all and end all", but a positive by-product of the great service I tried to provide every day. I wanted to have a business with heart. The driving force behind why I provided the best service I could possibly give was beyond financial - it was also to meet some of the spiritual, psychological, practical, and creative needs I had. It encompassed how I wanted to "live and move" in the world in which I lived and how I wanted to interact and connect with others - whether they had fur, feathers, or skin!
I wanted my business to give me a sense of satisfaction. I wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of my clients. I wanted pet owners to have peace of mind when they left their pets in my care. Naturally, I wanted to make an income too, but piling up mountains of money wasn't my end goal. I know this might sound odd to some people, but I wanted a business that expressed my beliefs and life perspective first and let me "be me" so that I'd be a happier and more satisfied person.
In my estimation, lifestyle pet sitters are people who express their business goals in ways that do more than just bring in an income. Many pet sitters are probably "lifestyle pet sitters" already and don't know it! Think about the reasons you wanted to create a pet sitting business or why you started your current business in the first place. Was the love of animals a major part of the decision? Was doing something besides working for corporate America part of your decision? If so, then you were focusing on your lifestyle desires as well as being a business owner.
In my humble opinion, a lifestyle business fits into how an individual wants their daily lives to be. This can involve putting a limit on how many clients they will accept so they have enough time in their lives for other endeavors. It might mean keeping their pet sitting business as a part-time business to allow time for other things they want to do with their families, churches, or other creative outlets. It might allow them to enter into a more minimalistic and simple lifestyle for themselves, and in developing this lifestyle they may, in turn, find wonderful surprises - like being happier and more balanced.
I initially developed my pet sitting business on a part-time basis to test it out, and to create some extra income above and beyond what I made at my then-current full-time job, and to do something I loved and something that was very different from my day job (which I also loved). I didn't want to grow my business too fast while I found my way through this new world of business ownership. A pet sitting business also didn't cost a lot to start up and so it was a safer bet - a good trial business for me while that allowed me to be with wonderful pets and meet great human clients.
After six months of pet sitting on a part-time basis, I was laid off from my full-time job due to budget cuts, so I decided to take the window of opportunity to expand the business to a full-time endeavor. I ran it full-time for several years and then bumped it back to part-time again. The reasons why I bumped it back will be shared in a future post, and that too was partly a lifestyle based decision.
One of the beauties of having one's own business is that it can be created to be anything you'd like it to be. You might already be in business or maybe you are just in the thinking and planning phase. Either way, take some time to reflect on how you want your day to day life to look and see how you can adjust your business model and practices to help create the life you want. See if this is the business that is right for you.
As a pet sitter, you decide how you want to run your business and how big you want it to grow and if you want to add employees or independent contractors or not. Clients/pet owners will decide the type of pet sitter/pet sitting business that best fits their needs. When it all comes together a pet sitter's lifestyle business will mesh nicely with the lifestyle of the client and then a great client/pet sitter relationship can develop. In the end, everyone will be happier!
Please e-mail me your thoughts on this topic (email@example.com) if you'd like!