Creating a small, home-based business out of your passion for reptiles can become a profitable hobby or a new fulfilling career. Hundreds of reptile species are available to stock your business, and you can choose which you prefer to work with, breed and sell. Operating out of your home will reduce costs significantly because there is no need to rent separate retail or office space. Networking and the Internet can be used to develop a solid reputation and market your business.
Conduct research to discover what kind of reptile businesses already exist in your area. Try to find a niche market for your business. Choose a few species you are experienced with.
Check local regulations, including city, county and state laws, regarding reptiles. Find out if there is a limit to the number of reptiles you can have in your home. Find out if there are any restricted or banned species. Review any laws regarding the sale of reptiles. Contact an attorney or state, county or city official with any questions.
Determine where in your home you will house, breed and display reptiles. Plan how many reptiles you will have at any given time. Set up enclosures as necessary. Include quarantine enclosures for new reptiles. Plan how you will control light, heat and humidity in each enclosure.
Choose a name for your business.
Acquire any business licenses required by your city, county and state.
Purchase liability insurance to protect yourself and your business from any claims that may arise.
Develop a business plan to guide the growth of your business. Start with a mission statement or statement of purpose. Include a description of the business, financial information and management. Include short- and long-term goals for the business and how the goals will be measured and accomplished. Make sure your business plan covers what will happen if there are too many orders and not enough orders.
Write a marketing plan. Expect to spend 20 per cent of your time running your business and 80 per cent of your time marketing your business. Include how you will develop an online presence as well as local networking. Focus on free marketing to begin with, such as press releases, Web forums, social networking sites and word of mouth. Include future financing for marketing and advertising in your plan.
Develop written policies regarding how reptiles can be purchased from you. Sell reptiles only to individuals who will take care of the reptile properly. Write care sheets for the reptiles you sell and give them to new reptile owners every time a sale is made.
Purchase quality breeding stock from a reputable professional.
Become a member of local herpetological clubs and other reptile associations. Join the United States Association of Reptile Keepers. Become an active member of reptile forums.
Create a web site for your business. Recruit an experienced friend or hire a professional, if necessary. Be sure your web site is professional and educational. Include information regarding care of the reptiles you sell.
Set up pages for your business on social networking websites. Make sure they link back to your web site.
Consider creating a blog or e-mail newsletter for your current and potential customers.