Working with Animals

There’s an old adage which says ‘never work with children or animals’ but a number of our clients have chosen to ignore this and have built some successful businesses working with both! In terms of animals, we support clients who work with dogs – as groomers, walkers and kennel-owners, for instance – and in the equestrian sector. We’ve even had a farrier on the books in the past.

During lockdown, many people took the opportunity to own a pet – typically a dog – for the first time. In fact, a report by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) in March 2021, a year after the first lock down, suggested that a total of 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic. That means the country now has 17 million pet-owning homes.

While 5% of those who had bought a pet during the pandemic had already given it up 12 months later, on the positive side, 74% said their pet had helped their mental health while they were coping with the challenges of the pandemic and its lockdowns.

Many of those who bought dogs at that time are now finding they are expected back in the office a few more days a week and this had led to a rise in demand for dog walkers and sitters, as well as associated businesses, such as groomers.

We’ve written before about the growth in people having a small business or ‘side hustle’ running alongside their main job or perhaps, as mentioned, turning a hobby into a business. In fact, some familiar businesses today started as side hustles, including Esty, Facebook and Yankee Candle.

The truth is that while most won’t grow to rival Apple – which also started as a side hustle – they could expand to the point where you need to notify HMRC about your activities. While you might think that you are keeping your business on the down-low, HMRC has eyes everywhere! If you are offering your services as a dog walker through Facebook or you’ve got an online store, then you are being public about your activities.

Here at Lewis & Co, we’ve seen a number of new clients walk through our door who had perhaps initially started dog walking as a hobby but are now earning enough to make it into a standalone business. While many people call an accountant when they recognise they are earning more than £1000 from their ‘business’ and need to declare their earnings to HMRC, we would actually encourage people to register with HMRC at the outset. You can never be quite sure what you’ll be earning and, when it comes to dog walking, for instance, there’s definitely an appetite for it locally.

Assuming your business is doing well, there are expenses you can typically claim for as a dog walker, including fuel for picking up and dropping off your four-legged clients. You might even need dedicated space for your business, particularly if you set up as a dog groomer. Don’t forget, you’ll need appropriate insurance as well.

Here at Lewis & Co, can help you decide if your ‘side hustle’ is indeed a fully-fledged business and support you in your journey as an entrepreneur.

If you’ve got any questions or need any help, please call our team on: 01892 513515 or email: