How to Start an Online Dog Boutique – Avoid Getting Ripped Off!

Starting an online dog boutique is a fun, exciting, and promising business venture for any dog lover. Creating a business around one’s passion is the first step towards success. Since most dog owners love their pets (and tend to spend a great deal of money on them) it only stands to reason that at some point, the owner contemplates the thought that perhaps running an online dog boutique would be a way to escape the rat race of their traditional job, replace lost income, or perhaps supplement their retirement. While all of these intentions are fine and well, the reality is that having a profitable online dog boutique requires much more than a love for animals. Often times, this is the first experience at an online business and also the first step into the pet industry, which is ultra competitive. This combination, unfortunately, often spells financial disaster for the individual stepping into uncharted waters.

Before I continue, I must clarify my qualifications in writing this article. While many who write such “advice” type articles have never really done what it is the recommend, I on the other hand, come from a position of experience. I own and operate not only a popular online dog boutique, but also a bricks and mortar storefront selling the same product line. I have seen the good, bad, and ugly. I have helped hundreds of individuals get started and I have witnessed incredible financial loss by people who refused to follow my advice. Regardless of your industry, any successful entrepreneur will tell you that a great deal of their success was due to the fact that they mentored with someone in their industry, followed their advice, and walked a similar path. So, with that in mind coupled with the fact that my company has been around for 6 years, I do offer a level of credibility to the reader.

The biggest pitfall that I see people falling into right now is being charged WAY too much for their website design and many of these design companies are over-promising and under-delivering. With the horrible state of the economy these past few years, literally millions of people are turning to the internet as a way of creating home based income. In response to this influx of internet “newbies”, web designers are flooding the scene trying to grab a piece of the pie. Knowing that they are dealing with an online novice, they can prey on the inexperienced entrepreneur. More often than not, 3-4 months later the boutique owner still does not have a functioning website and they have invested a small fortune, often $10,000 or more! Frustrating to say the least.

The second biggest problem I see with the new online dog boutique owner is that once their site is up and running, they literally have NO knowledge of how to market the site and get traffic. As a result, they again fall victim to marketing companies out there who are also aware of this situation and they end up spending hundreds of dollars each month on marketing methods that are ineffective and do not drive enough traffic to their website. In essence, they go from the frying pan into the fire and find themselves quickly out of business and out of savings!

The dog industry is unique in many ways, and although the web designers and marketing “experts” will claim to know what to do to ensure online success, the reality is that most are just looking to make a sale and have little experience creating successful online dog boutiques. Having a pretty site with nice products is nowhere near enough to be profitable. So, having seen the winners and the losers in this industry, here is my advice…

#1… Find a mentor who has experience in the industry. If you are going to take someone’s advice, make sure that it is someone who has actually “walked the walk”. You may have to pay something to get this kind of advice, but it is usually priceless experience talking.

#2… PLEASE don’t build an online dog boutique unless you know how to promote the site online and you have a budget for marketing education and training. It’s not an easy thing to do and many before you have failed. Online marketing is far different than your standard advertising methods and if people can not find you, you’re dead. But, if you take the time to actually invest in your education and learn effective marketing techniques and strategies, you’ll be ahead of 99% of the other website owners out there. Plus, this education can transfer beyond the dog industry and serve you in any business in the future.