Thinking about opening a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Caring for Injured, Sick and Orphaned Wildlife
There may be nothing more noble than opening up a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation operation. When wildlife is injured, ill or orphaned, your organization can come to the rescue.
Wildlife rehabilitators may limit their work to certain animal types but it is common for such organizations to rescue and rehabilitate squirrels, rabbits, skunks, birds, porcupines, weasels, raccoons, foxes, beavers and coyotes. You'll want to decide which animals you handle and which you don't. For example, you might decide that skunks, bats, and coyotes are too much for you.
Typically, you'll start your wildlife rescue and rehabilitation venture as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. As you can imagine, this is typically not a for-profit business, and your "profit" will mainly be sleeping well at night knowing that you've done right by the animals. Needless to say, as the operator of a nonprofit, you will need to develop a strong fundraising engine and cultivate a base of volunteers who will help you to get the work done. For wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, you may even need to recruit specialized volunteers, such as local veterarians.
Obtaining a space for your wildlife rehabilitation efforts can be challenging. In some cases, your community's park district may be willing to donate space. Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Chicago, for example, operates on a location that was generously provided by the Chicago Park District.
In addition to rescuing wildlife, many wildlife rescue organizations have an active public education component to what they do. For example, you'll want to teach your local community that wildlife should be left in the wild and should never be captured or domesticated. Educating the community is often an opportunity to build a relationship with them, which in turn can allow you to recruit them as volunteers or donors. The more people you get to support your organization, the better it will do!
By helping animals complete their journey back to freedom, you are doing very important work. But you must start and run your organization with longevity in mind, with a plan for the future. Passion alone can only get you so far.
Successful Business Plans for Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Businesses
If you've done your homework, you already know that writing a business plan is the most critical thing you can do for your company.
We'll add one more voice to the chorus – writing a solid business plan is the most important thing you can do for your startup. If you take your business plan seriously, the end product will be a document that will guide your company through the critical first year and beyond.
Here's something else you should know: Business plans help prevent key startup mistakes. While other startup wildlife rescue and rehabilitation businesses are floundering, your business will be on course for growth and profits, protected by a carefully conceived plan that reflects real world business conditions and your business's unique characteristics.
Investigate the Competition
Well in advance of opening a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business in your area, it's worthwhile to determine how many competitors you have. Use the link below to find competitors in your area. After clicking on the link, type in your city, state and zip code to get a list of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation businesses near you.
Is the established competition doing a good job? It's important to understand their strengths and weaknesses and think through how you'll stake up against those established businesses.
Learn from Others Who Are Already In This Space
After you've evaluated your local competitors, you really ought to talk to somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
Thankfully, an owner of a a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business in a location that is not competitive to you may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. Indeed, many experienced entrepreneurs enjoy offering advice to startup entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
What's the best way to find an owner of a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business that lives outside of your area?
It's not that hard. Just use the handy link below and enter in a random city/state or zipcode.
Acquisitions vs. Startups
Unfortunately, many inexperienced wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business entrepreneurs approach ownership with the mistaken idea that a startup is their only option when they could also pursue a business acquisition.
Unless you have compelling reasons to launch a new business, buying an existing wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business may be the better choice.
The good news is that a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business acquisition is a recognized name and usually comes with a loyal customer base. In a best case scenario, you'll be able to locate a turnkey operation with proven profitability and a well oiled business model.
The probabilities on your avoiding failure in business increase if you buy a franchise rather than going it alone.
If your goal is to start a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business, you would be wise to assess whether there are good franchise opportunities available that might make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you currently own a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation businesses, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.