How to Make Money

Handy With Tools? Here’s an In-Demand Business You Probably Never Considered

September 19, 2014
by Steve Gillman
Contributor
Image: Cat Enclosure

It’s a dangerous world out there for cats, what with cars, coyotes, and other kitty killers. That’s why indoor cats live up to three times as long as outdoor cats, and why my wife and I keep our cats inside most of the time.

However, the cats love fresh air and get bored easily when kept indoors. That’s a problem — and if you’re the entrepreneurial sort, you know that where there is a problem, there is a moneymaking opportunity. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

Solve a Problem to Make a Profit

More and more cat owners are becoming aware that cats need mental stimulation, and time in a safe outdoor environment provides that. What can busy cat owners do to provide a stimulating environment for their pets?

Here in Florida, we walk our cats (on leashes), but when we lived in Colorado I built an 8-by-8-foot enclosure onto the back of the garage. It had shelves, a tree and a ramp to a high perch. Jack and Opie were safe from most outdoor dangers, and they could come and go from the house as they pleased using a small cat door.

Image: Cat Enclosure

We eventually spent $1,000 to make the whole backyard a safe, cat-escape-proof playground for our guys, but I did much of the work myself. But many people don’t have the time or desire to build an outdoor enclosure.

Buying a cat enclosure online is not always an ideal solution. Consider the Garden Cat Enclosure from cagesbydesign.com. It starts at about $3,000, and other components (like the tube and door to connect cage to the house) add hundreds of dollars. Some cat owners are happy to pay that, but the enclosure requires assembly and a platform built from locally bought cement tiles. Even when spending thousands of dollars, the customer still has a lot of work to do!

That’s where you come in, if you want to help out cats and make money. Cat owners need a service that installs cat enclosures. A quick online search shows it’s easy to find a company that installs cat enclosures in Australia, but not in the United States or Canada. This is a business niche waiting to be filled. Consider these two facts:

1. Self-assembly cat enclosures can cost more than $800 for a small unit that connects to a window and thousands of dollars for one that’s full-size.

2. I built our cat enclosure for $110 with materials bought at Home Depot.

Are you beginning to see the profit potential?

To gain experience, install an enclosure for your own cats. Take photos and videos of them enjoying it. Then you can start doing this for others, part-time if you like. Set your own hours, since it is likely that nobody else in town provides this service.

Two Ways to Create Cat Enclosures

To keep it simple at first, you might just install cat enclosures that customers buy online. If they’re willing to pay $3,000 for an enclosure, they might be happy to pay you $300 to do the installation. With practice it could take you less than a day.

The other route, which has more profit potential, is to custom-build enclosures onsite. You could charge less than $1,000 to do simple designs like the one I built, while offering more elaborate cat enclosures for $2,000 and up.

Add-On Services Can Build Your Business

Then there are the extras. “Cat runs” are long “tubes” built (usually) of lumber and wire mesh. They allow cats to safely go far into the yard. They’re sometimes connected to other enclosures.

Cat-proofing existing fences is another service you could offer (it is possible — we went two years without an escape). Look at online photos of cat containment designs for ideas, and print out some of those photos to show prospective customers.

Building cat enclosures is not a common business (yet), so it isn’t easy to say how much you can make, or whether there will be enough demand to make more than a part-time income where you live. But when people are paying $3,000 for something you can build for under $1,000, there is probably a little bit of profit potential in there somewhere.

Your Turn: Do you have an enclosure for your cat? Would you consider installing enclosures for other cat owners as a business?

by Steve Gillman
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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