Pet adoption has become more common than ever. In fact, 70 percent of American homes have at least one pet. The millions of Americans who own a pet need an easily accessible location that supplies food, treats and other necessities.

Owning a pet shop can thus be a lucrative business opportunity. Running a pet store also lets you provide households with new furry (or scaly) family members. If you want to operate a successful pet store, follow the below steps.

1. Develop a Unique Niche

Several big names exist in the pet industry, including PetSmart and Chewy. There may also already be several smaller pet shops in your area. You will need to offer something different from the others. See what is missing from other pet stores and figure out how to provide that service. Maybe your shop will emphasize certain types of pets over others. Or perhaps you will put a higher premium on customer service compared to your competition.

2. Write a Business Plan

Next, you should write down your business goals and your strategy for achieving them. Online software should help you create this business plan.

Be sure to include a sales plan that describes how your company will earn revenue. The business plan should also mention your target audience and any vendors you hope to use. You will need to show this plan to any third-party investors who are interested in funding your company.

3. Research Local Laws

Any business owner must meet certain legal requirements before opening the doors. You need to register your company with the federal government for tax purposes.

Since you will be working with animals, additional legal actions are required.  For instance, you will have to obtain a license, and your store must pass a safety and health inspection.

States also have different laws regarding the selling of pets. New York, for instance, recently banned the sale of cats, rabbits and dogs. In other states, such as Michigan, pet stores need to provide customers with certificates from a veterinarian. Research your area’s specific laws ahead of time to ensure your store does not get shut down by authorities.

4. Pick the Ideal Location

Next, you have to decide where your pet store is going to be. Make sure to choose a heavily trafficked area that pet owners can easily access. Checking for available spaces near dog parks is a good place to start.

Be sure to check your local zoning laws. Some locations may be designated for residential use only. It may also be easier and cheaper for you to buy an existing pet store instead of opening up a brand-new one.

5. Get Equipment and Supplies

After you have secured your building, you need to fill it with pets and supplies. Be sure to have plenty of aquariums and cages before you bring in the animals. You can purchase the pets from a reputable breeder or dealer. The supplier should provide paperwork confirming that the animals are all healthy and ready to be adopted.

6. Hire Employees

You cannot run your business by yourself. The employees you pick need to be animal lovers. They should also be experienced and trustworthy.

Once you start hiring people, you may have additional legal requirements as an employer. A lawyer or other expert in this field can ensure you are following proper procedures.

7. Develop Marketing Strategies

Finally, you need to make sure everyone in your city or town knows about your new business. Post advertisements in popular areas, create a website and set up social media accounts.

Attending and sponsoring community events can also help spread the word. Whatever advertising methods you choose, be sure to put forth a consistent and distinctive message.

Running a pet store takes a lot of hard work. However, the smiles on your customers’ faces make the grind worthwhile. The above steps should help you get started on this rewarding endeavor.