Having a dog walking business is a great way to combine your passion for dogs and earning money from it. Moreover, a dog walking business is a fairly simple business. Dog walking does not really entail complex skills to perform. Any average regular person can do it. You don’t even need a license or a certificate to be a dog walker.
The need to register your dog walking business will ultimately depend on the size of the business. If you are a small business, registration is optional. If you have a big business, registration is a must.
Registering a small dog walking business is optional especially if you conduct the business as yourself using your legal name. You can immediately operate and complete small business transactions without the need for registration.
By small business, this means that you operate as a one-man business. You are your own employee and you do everything from marketing the business, transacting with clients and performing the service i.e. walking the dog. You also have very few clients. You only walk 1 to 3 dogs a day.
While you need not register your small business, you may consider filing a federal tax ID. Also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), this tax ID functions as a social security number of your business for paying taxes, opening a bank account, applying for business licenses and permits and hiring employees later when your business grows. Applying for federal tax ID is free.
As a small business, you may not be required to register your business. However, not registering your small business venture can cause you to miss out on some legal benefits and protections that you could otherwise enjoy if you register your business. Thus, it is always advisable to register your business even if you are just a small business. After all, registering a small business can be as simple as registering your business name with the local government.
If you are opening a large dog walking business, you need to register your business. By large business, this means that you have a separate business office or place of operations, you employ people to perform the different business functions and services, and you handle 20 or more dogs a day.
The need to register a large walking dog business primarily stems from the need to apply for a general business license. Business registration is often a requirement in applying for a permit or license. A general business license or permit from the government allows you to operate your business legally in the local area.
If you are planning to make a dog walking business, it is important to fulfill all the legal requirements in the locality where you plan to operate the business. This includes registering your business and obtaining the pertinent license in your city or local state to operate.
What is business registration?
Business registration is a process by which your business is made a distinct legal entity. It provides your business with a legal personality that is separate from you as the owner. This is why your business would have its own name. If you don’t register your business, this means that you and your business are one and the same. Thus, if you are operating as a one-man business, like when you, yourself walks the dog per se, registering such business is optional. However, if you involve other people such as when you have employees actually performing the dog walking service on your behalf, you need to register your business so that it will have a distinct juridical personality separate from you.
Here is a quick look at the UK’s official website for registering your dog walking business (link Here)
For the USA, here is a quick snapshot of the official IRS EIN registration page (link here)
Why register your dog walking business?
While registering a small business can be optional, it is nevertheless a smart choice as an entrepreneur for various reasons. After all, your business venture is geared towards growing the business in size eventually, which would require you to register your business.
Business registration makes your business as a separate legal entity. Without which, you will be directly liable to any legal action and damage claims taken against the business and will not be shielded by any complaint procedures, among others. Aside from this, hereunder are other advantages of having a registered business:
Getting legal protection.
While many dog walking businesses operates as a sole proprietorship, especially if you don’t register your business, getting your business registration prevents you from direct exposure to legal liability for any mistakes, mishaps or errors that your business may bring upon yourself while operating. For instance, you can register your dog-walking business as a limited liability company, to restrict the liabilities that you will incur in case of legal actions.
Getting insurance/ bonds.
A registered business allows you to get liability insurance coverage and fidelity bonds for your business to protect you from legal liabilities. If the dog under your care bites or injures someone or damages property, your business insurance can pay for damages. If one of your employees injures the dog, steals the dog or performs any other dishonest acts, the bond will help cover for any loss or damage made by the employee. Without insurance and bonds, you will shoulder all responsibility, liability, and losses.
You can find plenty of Insurance Companies that will insure dog walking business with a simple google search (click here)
Creating Bank Accounts.
Business registration is required if you are opening a business bank account. Creating a bank account for your business helps separate your personal cash assets and activities from those of your business. It also makes your business look more professional if they transact with an entity with a separate business name instead of your own full name.
Establishing credibility to get Loans.
Putting up a business would entail financing. This is needed to defray the costs involved in operations. Banks and other lending institutions would require a business registration certificate if you apply for a business loan. A registered business is a proof that you truly have a business and therefore has the means to pay for the loan. If your business is not registered, you will not be entitled to business loans. You can only apply for a personal loan. However, without a registered business, your loan may not be approved because you have no proof that you are truly providing dog walking services.
Establishing legitimacy and reputation for Marketing.
Having your business registered is one assurance to potential clients that your business is legitimate. If your business is not registered, a client may become suspicious of you being a fishy or shady service. If your business is registered to the state, potential clients will find your business more trustworthy and dependable. They can easily decide if they will avail of your services without misgivings or worries.
Enjoying Business Benefits.
Being a registered business has its perks. A registered business can establish partnerships, get discount privileges and make other arrangements with other business organizations. For instance, suppliers can offer discounts to the products that you need if you deal with them as a business entity i.e. your business is registered, rather than if you transact with them in your own personal capacity. Your registered business can also make dealings with larger organizations that will potentially give you bigger income opportunities.
Expanding your Business.
If your dog walking business is registered, it is fully prepared for expansion particularly when you start hiring employees to expand your operations. Business registration may be required for securing tax identification number for your business when you need to pay taxes, or social security benefits in your employee’s behalf and to settle other government-mandated payments as an employer.
How to register your Dog Walking business?
The process for the registration of your dog walking business can vary from state to state or will depend on the locality where you will put up the business. You need to go to your local government to know exactly where and how to register your business.
For a small dog walking business, the process for registration would simply involve getting and registering a name for your business and paying the corresponding fees. However, for larger business, the general requirements would normally include having a registered business name, deciding what form of business organization you want (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC), submitting documents for the type of business structure selected (e.g. notarized articles of incorporation/ partnership for a corporation/ partnership, treasurer’s affidavit, bank certificate of deposit for capitalization), application forms, bank account and payment of filing fees, among others.
What other legal factors you need to consider in your dog walking business?
Aside from the registration of your business and the securing of applicable licenses and permits (if any) to operate the business, the two other legal issues that you need to consider are the local rules and regulations pertaining to dogs and the dog-walking service contract.
In providing dog walking services, you should be knowledgeable about the local rules, policies or regulations of the area/ city that may affect you. This includes the designated and restricted areas for dog walking, dog sanitation laws, leashing laws, and zoning prohibitions for dog sitting services, among others. On the other hand, the dog contract between you and your client will layout your agreements including service schedule and parameters, responsibilities and liabilities, service price and compensation, and other important issues that need to be straightened out or clearly defined.
Registering a small one-man dog-walking business is optional. You can provide dog walking services without having to register your business. However, registering a big dog-walking service business with several employees is compulsory to secure a general business license. Regardless of size, however, it is recommended that you register your business or service to the government because of its many advantages. A registered business provides your business legal entity, can limit your liability, and establish your business name, credibility, legitimacy, and reputation, among many others.