Building a startup in the pet industry is hard, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Finance and competition being the biggest ones, but also having a good team and making sure you have a brilliant product or service are also important factors for achieving success.
Let’s look at these factors in a bit more detail:
Any startup needs funding. You need funding to keep the wheel on the roll. Most people have financial provision for 6 months, but I say put aside nothing less than a 12 month cash flow plan - we all know how fast 6 months just fly by. If by month 6 you are still tugging away at a loss, aim for break-even, but by month 12, if you have not shown a profit, start finding an alternative income to help you get by. I don't say you should give up, as the saying goes: Winners never quit. So don't give up that fast. Just take it easy and let your plan B help you for as long as your plan A needs extra funding.
2. Research your Market
The best thing to do is research what your competition is doing and try to identify a Unique Selling Point (USP) or go one better and draft a Strategic Business Plan. Spend time thinking it through and do as much research as you can to ensure that you, your product and your service stands out from the crowd. Understand that research does not just involve product and service, but it also means a complete understanding of who your clients are going to be.
3. Who is on your Team?
Key here is to take your time in getting a new team on board. Just employing anyone willing to do the job at the right price, will set you back in more ways than one. In the beginning, you will be spending time micro-managing with your new team - more than what will be considered normal - while each member of the team learns what their roles are. If after about 3 months you feel you are still pulling strings, the time has come for you to make a call on whether you really want them on board or not. Poor performers impact progress. Re-address your strategic business strategy if need be and help them to shape up, or if you really have to, it will be time to ship them out.
We tend to focus so hard to make the wheel turn in our businesses, that we forget to work on our businesses. Working on your business means knowing what your clients want, what they think of your product and service, and then constantly updating your business strategy to ensure you and your team deliver on those needs. I asked a friend once: “why do you train so hard?” and he said “because when I stop training, someone else is working twice as hard to beat me”. This goes the same for working on your business, and always be one step ahead of your competition.
5. Pricing vs. Cost
Steven Covey once said, always work on a win/win basis. What he meant in relation to pricing and cost is that this relationship has to be perfect to the point where you and your client win at all times. Do not undercut your business just to keep the doors open. Understand your client base, and see what they are willing to pay. What is their number one buying decision? Do the market research. Are they looking for value for money, a bargain, or the best quality they can find? Never underestimate the need for quality and value, but make sure that you are again talking to the right client profile to suite the product or service that you offer.
There you go, keep these factors in mind when starting your new business in the pet industry. Always have a plan, with goals, so that you can measure your success and enjoy the efforts of your business that you created.