Three Most Common Causes of Aquarium Maintenance Business Failure

In the commercial repair/consulting part of my business, I travel A LOT!

I’ve covered parts of 6 states in my region and have serviced dozens upon dozens of Petco, PetSmart and Walmart stores in the last several years. In these stores, I have met many people. Sometimes the conversation with these people spills over into what I do for my real job…aquarium maintenance.

A few of them have told me that they, too, used to do aquarium maintenance but just couldn’t get it to work.  After talking to them a little further, I can usually identify what their problem was.  

Here are three of the biggest issues with their businesses that stand out in my mind.

Some of them go into the business as a hobbyist and treat it as a hobby. They dive into it with good intentions and with a desire to help other hobbyists, which is great, but they don’t see the business side of it.  The purpose of a business is to make money.  This is the ‘teach a man how to fish’ thing which will eventually work yourself out of a job. There’s nothing wrong with that but it is not a good, long term business model if you’re wanting to make a living out of aquarium maintenance.

Another problem is focusing on the wrong clientele.  They may be more business minded here, but some clients will just wear you out!  These clients are usually hobbyists themselves but want to hire certain parts of their tasks done. They tend to watch the tanks more and have no problem calling you when one little thing gets out of line.  I consider these accounts as forms of stress and do not include them in my business.  This will lead to burnout and disillusionment.

The biggest problem I see, though, is not having a plan.  Not planning their marketing, clientele, equipment, cash flow and time will ultimately cause them to fail.

If you want this to succeed as a business, you have to treat it as a business.

Granted, I didn’t go into this business with the intention of it one day being my major source of income. I didn’t have a plan, either.  My original goal was for it to just fuel my aquarium hobby.  As long as it paid for my next fish, great!  I really had no idea of the potential of aquarium maintenance until after I had open (and closed) my fish store.

Things just sort of fell into place through trial & error and over a lot of time.  If I could do it over, though, I would put a lot more thought into it. I would have planned out equipment selections a little better, honed in on certain clients and just done things more intentional. It eventually got there, but through time and hard work.

Hind sight is always 20/20.