Thursday, April 30, 2009

{Why Your Pet Business Has Gotta Change to Thrive in this Recession}

Now hear this, if you're already doing a bang up job with your pet business than maybe you don't need to change anything, keep doing what you're doing. In case you're strugglin a bit, or if you're just starting out traditional methods to survive and prosper generally won't get you very far in today's volitile market.

Now don't get too discouraged because different doesn't mean out of reach. The pet industry is still a wonderful industry to be in, but you may have to re-think your business model and how you plan on achieving your goals.
Here are a few quick tips to consider for your game plan:

-->Fine Tune Your Customers Wants: When was the last time you really listened to what your customers are saying to you directly and indirectly? What do you really offer them? If you sell gourmet doggy treats what do you [sell] them? Peace of mind that your treats are organic and good for them? Or if you offer daycare and walking what does that service mean to your customers? Fine tune this USP, or Unique Selling Point. This is what will set you apart from your competition and fine tune you into your customers.

-->Providing Something of Value is Always Good Business: It's no wonder more millionaires were made during the great depression than any other time in history. Because during this time savvy entrepreneurs jumped right in and delivered great products and services and took advantage of the lesser startup costs, and the ability to take care of their market. The common misconception of 'hard times' is that people won't spend on nothing but necessities. Well we already see this isn't true, and what else is that if you're providing something that is seen as a value, or something that fills a comfort need you can still do quite well. And this also means that when things do pick up, as they have shown to always do, you would have positioned yourself in your market as the go to product or service and we all want that!

-->Re-invent Cutting of Expense: You've probably already heard that trimming in the areas of marketing and advertising isn't really a good idea. So what do you do to trim, well how about not really trimming but re-inventing. Maybe you've always sold through your website, how about changing things up a bit to re-invent yourself to you market. Why not offer personal service or products for your local customers? You could deliver products or maybe run a neighborhood pup party. Get creative with your customers and change things up to attract more customers and change how your current customers see you.

Thriving in this economy is not as hard as you think, having a good mindset, a great business foundation, and products and services that your customers truly appreciate will keep you thriving and moving toward your goals!

hey want my .02, I'd love to share I like doing that!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Naming your pet business

So you're at the point where you'd like to give your 'ah ha' moment a name huh? Well this could be the easiest hour or the longest, depending on your focus. Naming your business should be 
enjoyable, because you get to envision your business name in 'lights' or being said by people. But a misstep here and it's major headaches-ville.
I've listed some ideas to get the creative milk flowing, all you need to do is grab what you can use and go for it!

Here are a few quick tips to naming your new pet niche business.

-->Think shorter rather than longer:

Good: Diggs Dog Spa

Not So Good: Patty's Cute and Furry Fun Pet Care Place

Remember in the age of information overload a long drawn out name will most certainly be dismissed and forgotten. And if you're looking to directly make your name into a domain name you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing or able to remember phew it even takes a long time to type, so keep that in mind. -> short and sweet<-

-->Make sure it's not taken:

There is nothing more disappointing then spending half a day on your wonderful new pet business name only to find someone else is already using Your wonderful pet business name! Do yourself a favor, go to Google and type in your ideas for your new name, if only bits and pieces of it come up in blog posts or websites you may be in luck. ->check to see if it can be yours<-

-->Register It Somewhere:

If you're sure about your name and you want to make it official, you may want to go and register it. You can do this by going to a domain name hosting and registering company. This way you will 'lock up' your domain name if you don't have a real website yet. You can always go back later when your website is done and anchor your domain to it. ->Register It<-

-->Don't waste weeks over your pet business name:

Seriouly while your name is a pretty big deal, you shouldn't be lingering over it for weeks at a time. If you're stumped ask for help, if you're just out of ideas, ask for help or if you're just 
clueless, get out and get some fresh air. Your brain may just need a re-charge and a good walk with Buster could be just the dose you need. ->No dilly dallying<-

All in all your name should easily say who you are or what you do, or embark a feeling if possible. Sometimes you can get it all in a name other times you just cannot. But don't get discouraged there is still plenty of options still waiting on you to choose them. Make your name your own.

Hey want my .02? I'd love to share I like doing that!

Friday, April 24, 2009

*Savvy Ways to Attract Customers & Clients for Your Pet Business*

So you have:

*Your pet business website launched --> check

*Your business cards printed and ready for distribution --> check

*Your excitement in hand to finally be doing something you love --> and check.

You're all set up raring to go, when you notice that after a few months of your 'grand opening' you're not really seeing any traffic or business for that matter to your new budding pet business. What do you do, what did you do wrong and why haven't 'they' come?  
Well hot shot there could be a couple of reasons but we'll just look at a few ways to bring in some happy, returning customer/clients.

-->1) Form alliances with complimentary pet business owners - Key word here is complimentary.  If you sell rockin doggy collars, you may team up with an organic doggy bedding company.  Ask if you can cross-sell each other's products, or point customers in each others direction.  You can be casual about this too, maybe one of your product pictures with you pup wearing your collars, and lying in a beautiful pet bed could be used as a plug for your new alliance. And vice versa.  Be creative about this, as it can become very beneficial for both parties involved if done correctly.

-->2) Blog, Blog, Blog - You've heard it before but you need to have a blog and you need to post to it at the least once a week.  Blogs with search-rich keywords in the heading will be easily found in the major search engines.  What's important in a blog, well whatever your readers want to read about. You, your company, news, fun stuff, pictures of your business or products. Referrals to other cool sites, products, and/or reviews.  If you're concerned about time, outsource your writing.  There is also some great tips that I use too. (psst want to know them, join the BBP :)

-->3) Contests & Giveaways & Discount Codes - Everybody likes free stuff, who wouldn't so why not offer free samples to customers, people in the neighborhood walking their dogs, or known animal lovers?  You know that the pet lover community is very warm, and when you're giving stuff away, you're instantly 'in there'.  

--> 4) Team up with pet-friendly apartment complexes, and vets - Most apartment complexes that allow pets have a newsletter that they distribute to their residents weekly or monthly.  Why not go to them and offer their residents a discounted rate for your services, or a discount code for your products in their newsletter with your banner or ad?  Most apt complexes won't even charge you to do this, and if they do try to bargain using  the discount for their residents angle. :)  Same goes for vets. A lot of vets are doing newsletters now too, hook up with some local vets and ask if you can leave samples and a well-packaged product or business cards. Again get creative here for your best outcome. 

Customers are just like you, so think about how you'd like to be found or approached.  Keep all of your marketing materials and samples professional and you'll present your business is an upbeat manner.  

--> Don't chase your tail action point: Check your brochures, business cards and handouts. Are they bright and happy or dark and depressing does it represent your company well? Does it all have a coesion that is well-represented?  What about pictures, are there pictures to grab attention. Make sure this is all in order, you may be a small business, but you don't have to appear that way! 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Secret to Pet Business Success Is....

Well it's many things. It's the right industry, a market looking for what you have, it's a great network, it's a great set of skill sets, it's a support system to keep your head up when you can't, it's friends, business know-how and on and on.  But how can you possibly seek all these things without losing your mind, or worse losing your focus?  

Easy peasy. You can head on over to the only social community dedicated to wonderful world of 
pet business ownership! The Bark Business Park!  I've created a social community that will provide a warm, and friendly haven for those who adore animals and who have turned that passion into a thriving business.  

So you haven't actually started yet, no worries the BBP can provide you with tools, tips and resources to get you on the right path, and give you the confidence and push you'll need to launch that wonderful idea of yours!  

The idea behind the BBP is to grow a community that will be full of fresh, informative ideas, success stories, tools, resources, and plenty of opportunities to connect wth other petpreneurs and grow/or launch yours!  

The community is private right now, until we work through all the bugs, but we'd love to have you as a beta member/tester to give it a whirl!  

Wanna invite? 

Leave a comment, shoot me an email or click the links above!  Can't wait to see you at the Park! 
p.s. you can invite others too, the more the wagg-ier:)

Warm Wags,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

*Green Pet Products To Check Out*

If you didn't know it already there are tons and tons of fabulous green and earth friendly pet inspired companies today that will help you and furry family members going green in a fun and stylish way.  These companies are fully into their pet business niche of helping other pet parents and businesses to go green.  We've sniffed out just a few but do a Google search and see what You can come up with!
**Happy Earth Day**

Dapper Collar by Eco Pup
constructed of re-claimed people ties

Lavender Canine Shampoo
all natural ingredients, easily rinses, low lather

Align Center
Strawberry Shortcake Catnip Toy
hand-stitched using orgnic catnip

                 Pet Food Storage Canister
   you can have 'cat' or 'dog' on yours

Wanna suggest others? Leave a comment, be sure to include a like* Share.

Warm Wags,
Ms. Bark Business -Rickina

Monday, April 20, 2009

3 Hot, Under the Radar Pet Niche Business Ideas

You know starting a pet business is right for you, but you keep thinking 'but I want to do something different' something that not very many businesses are doing.  Well you're in luck, we've scrounged around a bit to bring you 3 Hot Under the Radar Pet Niche's that might suit your fancy.  

New niche's are being created everyday, and with an open-mind and a knack for seeking them out you might just find your goldmind. But until then here are 3 to spark your creative brain juice:

1* Senior Dog Refuge/ Senior Products --> Every cute little puppy eventually turns into an aging senior dog and there's no doubt about it, the love for that aging family member just grows stronger with time.  So it makes sense that the growing population of older pets still need care and specialized attention, love and products to keep their aging days as happy and as comfortable as possible.  If you love the slower pace of being around an older dog or pet than this niche may be perfect for you.  According to Modern Dog Spring '09: The need for dog refuge camps, and housing is growing so strongly that Judith Piper owner of Old Dog Haven was hesitant to even have her business featured.  Because of the crowd of people looking for a place to have their senior pets.  

The need for specialized products for the aging pet community is growing too. You could become a Senior Pet comfy retailer - specializing in all things to make the senior pet comfortable, and happy in their old age. Or anything that makes caring for them easier for the pet parents.  

2*Green Pet Housing --> Are you a whiz with a saw, hammer and nails. Do you see the art in things that others may call junk? Well you could have found your calling.  In a world where going green isn't a trend but a way of life you could fair well with designing and/or building pet housing constructed out of reclaimed stuff.  Think, old barrels, drums, filling from mattresses etc.  If you have a knack for contructing something from nothing this could be the pet business for you.  If you're really creative you can treasure hunt the supplies, and then share the background with each work of green art with the new owners.  

3*Relaxation/Massage --> Do you have a way with your hands, or do you calm a high-sprung cat or dog with just a touch? Why not use it to your advantage and offer mobile, pet relaxation and massage. It's proven that with the right touch you can produce healing like endorphins and release that can calm even a high-spirited pup.  You could then offer in tandem natural and organic products as a plus. Or maybe you would fair better as a teacher of massage. Surely some pet parents would love nothing better than treating their pup to the wonder qualities of massage themselves.  You could then, do weekly classes or sessions to teach the latest tricks and techniques to your pupils.  

All in all finding your perfect niche is about seeking out what is your passionate driver and turning it into a business that even if you were not being paid to do it, you will still spring out of bed everyday because you enjoy it that much.  If you don't have that driver the other 'boring' stuff might slow you in your tracks to success. 

Hey want my .02? I'd love to share it, I like doing that!

Ms. Bark Business - Rickina

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will Work For...Free*

I've been thinking of ways to really reach out to the pet business startup community and offer what I've learned launching my niche business and help them in ways that I needed when I launched. With so many people charging for things they can do for free I thought why not give something away for free for once?
And I thought why not offer small things that garner big gains in confidence and business! So I'm officially opening up the doors to the Bark Business - Freebie Shop.

If you'd like assistance with:
** a custom Twitter background

**getting started with Twitter

**getting media opportunites

**starting a blog

**staring a e-commerce website

The Bark Business - Freebie Shop is for you --Now here's the catch, but it's not a big one:)
-------> THE CATCH, in return we just ask that you let others know we're Freebin' you, and how it's helping. Like Twetting about it, posting to your blog whatever helping us let others know about Bark Business.
A link to us or something would be cool too, but not required. And we ask that you let us share your comments and feedback on our freebies, Deal?
But we won't do the Freebie shop forever, so you gotta get on the bus soon -secure your seat!

Interested? Great, email us info[at] We cant' wait to get started!
You can also comment, and say 'hey I want in'

Do you 'Socially Sell' or 'Smack Sell' on Twitter?

You're probably already familiar with the notion that social communities and networks are truly gaining virtual speed and are changing the way people communicate, socialize and meet new freinds.

But do you understand how business owners can find new customers, clients and eventually sell to them without feeling pushy, or tacky? Well there is a way, but unfortunately not many business owners or startups are doing it correctly. But are approaching these new more relaxed outlets as the old way of advertising and marketing. And if you're one of them, it may be why you're not seeing the benefit from these social outlets.

Let's start by looking at the 'Smack Sell' - definition - those startups who join social networks who just forcefully push their products, services and crap onto others with no clue as to what their Smack Sell is doing. And if you're not familiar or maybe you think 'well I'm not doing that' lets just look at an example.

---->Example #1 - You just joined Twitter and you think ok all I gotta do is just tell people what I'm doing, or what I'm eating, and what I'm selling and I'll get all the customers I can handle" or " I'll just follow thousands of people and they'll follow me back then I'll make tons of sales" uhh Wrong-O & Wrong Again!

If you join Twitter and you go on a Follow Spree to find people you'll probably be ignored rather than getting immediate follows back. If you're following 500 people and only 25 follow you back, that looks suspect or you're doing something wrong.

If you join Twitter and you just keep posting like this: @smacksell We have a sale this week come check it out http://..sdkskjlslk.crap/ @smacksell we just launched a new piece of useless crap go take a look blah blah.

This is a big No-No and a turnoff, people don't care what you're selling.

Now let's take a look at the right way, what I like to call the 'Social Sell' - definition - the business who is joining a social community to commune with like-minded people and genuinely foster fun, interesting connections and friends - which later, orgnically could lead to more sales, and better loyal customers.

This will feel familiar to you if you're already working this way, or maybe you should take note if you're a 'Smack Seller'.

---->Example #2 - You join Twitter and you're thinking I want to find some interesting people who like me enjoy the companionship of their pet, or who also have started a business inspired by their pet. Here's how to get started the Social Sell way.

You start out by going to search twitter and finding others talking or tweeting about pets. Read their tweets, go to their website ,if they have one and find something neat to tweet with them about. Keep it genuine and real, if you do a fake tweet it's obvious and it's not cool, so keep it real :) People like to talk about themselves and if you compliment or can relate on some level that has nothing to do with pushy selling you're one step ahead of the crowd. Plus this way is much more fun and feels more natural...try it out. Eventually when people see that you're real and looking to make genuine connections, curiousity will drive them to learn more about SALES, yes glorious warm Sales!

Or think of it this way: --->Fade to Real-life Scenario --- you're taking Sam your Beagle/Poodle to the off leash dog park and you're excited because you're in the startup phase of your Mobile Doggy Nail Clipper service. You're armed with business cards and your pitch. And a perfect opportunity is walking right toward you. ***WRONG WAY*** you then whip out your business cards while saying "hey, I just started a mobile doggy nail clipping service here take my card" Ridiculous right? Well that's what Smack Selling is, it's tacky and just doesn't work very well.

****RIGHT WAY***your opportunity is walking toward you again and instead this time you say "Would you look at that, your puppy has the same designer collar and lead that Sam and I use, where did you find yours? ...Really I'll have to check that website out sometime". You then notice after a few lines of dialouge that Pugsy's nails look like they need attention, you then go into your warm pitch.

So I bet you can see how this is really just a progression of taking your face-to-face skills when meeting new people online. No big secret people enjoy connecting, and being online is no different.

Now go forth and be a Social Selling Butterfly/Dog/Cat or whatever your fancy...

Want my .02? I'd love to share it I like to do that!

Warm Wags,

Ms. Bark - Rickina

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Viable Pet Market | Offering Something of Value

So you're excited, geeked even about this new idea for your pet niche business, one that will allow you to enjoy your 'Freedom Venture' and do so while enjoying something you're truly passionate about.

When you're at that point of 'thinking and deciding' on the direction to take your bright pet-inspired idea there are a few first points you need to keep in mind. And not many 'pros' will fill you in on this one, but it's quite important and needs to be properly addressed, here goes.

1) Your 'Freedom-Venture' is what you newly created lifestyle would look like if your new business was a well-oiled machine, fulfilling, successful and most importantly profitable. Would you simply create another 'job' that you do all by yourself, essentially not really living a true entrepreneur lifestyle.

Or would your business have a clear and predicatable path that it chugs along, that repeatedly makes you money while you still have plenty of 'Freedom-Venture' time? My guess is that you're gonna want this one. Well you have to think about this in the very beginning, sort of like goals but more of how it will all look once you're there.

Not just a bullet point of a goal scribbled on a notepad, but what would a typical morning look like, a week, a month?

2) Now that you have that cleared and well-defined you need to ensure that your market is strong and large enough to support this lifestyle you've mapped out for yourself. If you want to be able to say visit Anatayla, Greece next week, your market needs to be able to sustain those jaunts. But if you just want to be able to pay for your pets extra-curricular activites than your market doesn't have to be that large.

But this is an important factor to consider because you really want your market to sustain your goals, and you really need to make sure what you're offering is something that they find valuable and worth opening up their purses and wallets to.

There's no doubt about it, if you offer something that is useful and your market finds value in it, you'll find that selling won't feel like selling but more like offering or sharing. On the flip side of that is that you'll get paid for that...Sa-weet!

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: Hop on and just plug in keywords you would use if you were looking for your product or service. For instance if you're selling athletic gear for dogs and their parents, you may want to look for dog parents who jog, or dog parents who train with their dogs, you get the idea. If there is lots of blogs, companies and just stuff out there on the topic you could be onto a viable market. Next is to find out that 'pain spot' for them, are the leashes or leads insufficient, or is stopping for 'the business' a hassle. Find the market, understand the pain and then hone in!

Want my .02? I'd love to give it, I like doing that! :) email me*

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You've Had The Ah-Ha Moment Now...

You may be thinking that the next step is to dive right in feet or head whichever you prefer first. Well hold on there now, just a minute.
A lot of people that are new to the petpreneur/entrepreneur lifestyle will want to go full throtle and get their product made, out there and make the big bucks, but there is a critical step that you should take to ensure your success. Wanna know what it is?
Of course you do because you want to succeed at this thing called business. Well here it is, it's pretty easy just so you know upfront.

----> Secure Your Customers First<----

That's right, you have to, you need to, Secure Your Customers First! Even before you have a fully functioning and complete product or service structure you should really take the time to learn all you can about your customers. They're the ones that will make or break your business so it would be in yours and your future businesses best interest to know who they are and where you can connect with them easily (read for free).
So many 'just getting started' entrepreneurs totally get this critical step backwards, and I'm no exception here my friends. I too fell victim to this on many-o-launches and I gotta tell you it showed about 6 months or less into the venture. Without connecting with and really understanding what it was that my customers wanted from me or needed, I was sunk before I could shove off. Not sure what I mean here's how you feel when it's happening:

**You're excited your product is complete and you know you're gonna get some customers because you're so excited and your confidence is through the roof, this will be great you think. Then two months later, you're wondering why am I sinking in product with little to no customers, you feel defeated, and burnt out. ** Have you been there yet, or are you going?

Snap out of it! Launching your pet-inspired business doesn't have to be this way, you can take another path. No it won't be all easy peasy, but you can eliminate some of this emotional and physical heartbreak by simply finding and connecting with your customers First*

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: here's what you can do right now. If you're not on Facebook, or Twitter go sign-up now, it's free and takes just a few minutes. Get a blog, and update it at least weekly, this will help you to get a 'following' of potential customers reading what you have to say.

Remember the lifestyle you want won't fall into your lap, you gotta work for it!

*And if you have a question or want feedback give me a *woof* and I'd be happy to give my .02! I like to do that :)

~Ms.Bark - Rickina

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And you know you Have to have a website right??

You've heard it a million times and a million more. No matter your business you need a website of some sort. Even if you don't sell from there you absolutely must have one, there's no excuses anymore. Gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars on a flashy, hyper-designed website.

Nope today you can launch a website with e-commerce for FREE! Yeah no kiddin', and if you can get your hands on some backgrounds, or know how to play with photo editors you can really jazz things up.

So for this post we're gonna give you some Don't Chase Your Tail Action Points right away, because your website isn't going to launch itself, it clearly needs you to DO SOMETHING! Ok so let's go:

----> Big Cartel -- You can launch a Big Cartel website in literally a matter of minutes and be accepting new customers in a day or two (with the right launch anyway). I played around with Big Cartel and loved the ease of userbility and the fact that I don't have to know any html code whatsoever! Yeah none at all, so don't freak out over that. But I will tell you that knowing a little html like how to make a picture a link is pretty easy stuff and comes in handy later on *wink, wink*

---->Flying Cart -- Another easy to use and set-up alternative. I told you there were options out there when you wanna build and launch your site. I messed around with this one a bit too, and found it was easy to use and pretty fun to add in my stuff.

---->Wix -- Now this one I haven't tried just yet but I would be happy to just go in there and play around a bit. I kinda like that sorta thing. But the templates look top-notch and if you're really hooked on having some flash on your website looks as if you can have it here too. This one also features several cool add-ons like using your own domain name (ie

Here are a few other points to consider:

* When you've finally taken the plunge and you're going to design your site and lauch it, please do not make the mistake of keeping the moniker. It screams, I didn't want to spend $7 a year to buy my domain name. And we don't want that do we?

* Although time-consuming you probably shouldn't stop with just a website, a blog is also a great way to pull in traffic directly from big deals like Google, Yahoo etc. For some reason and I'm sure the SEO gurus can detail this for you, the search engines like to grab your blog and throw it high up on the search pages. So make a note, a blog is generally not a maybe option. -- if you want help with it there are people for that :)

* Transperancy is a great way to show your customers and visitors you're a real person and not some ghost vying for their attention or their wallets. Do so by adding an 'About us' page, 'Contact Us' page and how to best reach you. While some people will be against giving out your cell number or an address, I'm not. I think when people know that they can call me, it gives them piece of mind. So share, you can also opt for a prepaid cell phone too, if that makes you feel better :)

*Keep your site looking Professional, nothing says I don't know what I'm doing like a poorly designed website with elementary school colors and poorly done graphics. You know the kind the graphics look grainy or worse blurry! C'mon now seriously would You buy something from a site that looks like that? And the navigation menu is just a stream of categories running all the way down the page??? Please, please don't do this, it looks cheap and tacky and you don't need to stand for that. You can design a modern, professional site for next to nothing, you have no excuses!

---Need any advice or feedback on your design? Let me give you my.02! I like to do that :)

Pet Industry Trends for 2009 - Must Read

If you're even thinking of starting a pet-inspired business this year, you need to know the trends to look for and to monitor.  Use this article as a guide and then take what applies to your situation and run with it.  

2009 Pet Industry Trends

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: Be diligent in finding what pet parents want that you can offer them.  If you're good at behavior in pets, go with that. If you're good with styling them, go with that.  Pick something you're passionate about and drive it home.  Go get your idea book - go on- and write down 5 things you're passionate about. Don't think too hard, just think about what get's you all spun up and your heart it now write it down.  Now think creatively how you can apply that to little Buster or a neighbor dog or cat or pet.  This is a good place to start!