The most common business structures used by dog walking and pet sitting companies are sole proprietorships and limited liability companies (LLCs). Which one is right for your business will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, your need or desire for liability protection, and the legal and tax implications your choice of structure will have.
Sole Proprietorship A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure. If you're the sole business owner and don't set another business structure, you're automatically considered a sole proprietor. If you want to operate your business under a company name rather than your own personal name, you'll need to file for a "doing business as" (DBA) with your state. In a sole proprietorship, you and your business are considered one and the same from a legal perspective. If someone makes a legal claim against your company, they can potentially go after your business and personal assets.
Limited Liability Company A limited liability company is a separate entity from its members (the owners of the LLC). This means that the members are not personally responsible for the company's debts and liabilities, and their personal assets are protected from business debt collection and lawsuits against the company. Starting an LLC will be slightly more complicated and expensive than a sole proprietorship. To create an LLC, you'll file "Articles of Organization" with your state and pay a filing fee. You'll also likely need to file an annual report and pay an additional filing fee each year to maintain your LLC. Keep in mind that your business structure is not set in stone. You can always change your business structure as the needs and goals of your business change. Many dog walkers and pet sitters will start as sole proprietorships and then switch to LLCs. There are many business structures besides these two that you could also consider. Whether you are just starting a business or considering a change in structure, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney and a tax advisor to choose the best structure for your business.