This December is a year since we launched Loyal.D and this puppy has gone through a lot of crazy - and fun - teething times! Conceived by three animal-loving friends who wanted to create a brand that will bring together like-minded people, www.loyald.com was started because we wanted to spread what every dog knows best - "loyalty" - and the fact that it's a life-long commitment of responsibility and companionship.
As we count-down to the end of 2016, we reflected on the Dog-isms we have learned so far... lessons that we consider invaluable when you want to make a difference as an entrepreneur. Or, still better, learn something from your dog!
1. Trust your instinct & follow your nose
When we were launching Loyal.D from Singapore, we decided to start with collars and leashes. We were not inventing anything new, yet we were trying to improve on products (from our experience as consumers) and channel our own style mantra into practical solutions with colour and attitude. We followed the same instincts when designing our Dog Bandanas, making them one of our bestsellers! One idea always leads to another, so if you can sniff out your dream make sure you follow it!
2. An old dog CAN learn new tricks
Loyal.D staff Belle learned to 'pawdel' in her senior years at 13 - if she can do it, so can you!
As a start-up without deep pockets, we had to learn to do everything - from testing and designing our products, sourcing manufacturers, keeping our own books to learning to maintain a website and more. There is no age limit to learn a new skill and if it's your business, it's best to learn everything about it. Same goes if you're bringing a dog into your family, as it's best to be ready to understand and be prepared for the change in lifestyle.
3. Don't be afraid to get messy!
Every dog or kid that's jumped into a muddy puddle knows the joy of getting messy, even if it requires a massive clean-up after. We are certainly not afraid of getting messy! One of our founding fund-raising ideas is to encourage creativity while expressing compassion towards animals through our Painting with Pooches concept. This creative, messy idea has helped spread the message of kindness to animals while raising funds to help our community shelters.
4. Shake it off and be true to yourself!
Dogs are good at being themselves, shaking it off and carrying on. The core of our business was to give as we get - it's what motivates us and keeps us true to ourselves. And in the process we have met some amazing people who are kind, dedicated, focused and massive animal-lovers. Of course there are always going to be obstacles, which we see as only there to keep you focused on what is true to you. We share this passion as a team and this helps stay positive in the face of any hurdles.
5. Keep digging ... that juicy bone is there somewhere
The dogged determination of a dog digging until it finds what it wants inspires us to keep digging too, no matter how difficult or slow things may be at the start. If you are convinced the bone is somewhere over the horizon, you need to keep that goal in mind and keep digging - who knows, you may find find a treasure chest of bones instead of just one. So keep digging and then dig some more!
6. Sometimes, being small means you need to bark louder
Coming from three non-sales background, we were initially awkward to ask people to buy our product. But when you are an entrepreneur, your first role is to engage with your customer. You are your brand's best sales person. So don't be shy to punch above your weight - especially if you wish to be heard in a crowded market place.
7. If they won't come to play, go take the ball to them
We are an online shop and we knew word-of-mouth publicity will be a slow and steady way to generate awareness and trial. However, we soon realised that besides our online shop we needed some retail touch points so that people could touch & feel the products, helping them on with their decision. As long as we are on the same wavelength of basis business ethics and principles, we stay open to partnerships.
8. Be the friend who always listens
Anyone who has had a pet knows the feeling of comfort and genuine 'listening ear' your fur friend gives you when you need to talk to someone. Over the last 12-months we grabbed every chance we could to meet our customers in person, hear their stories, meet their dogs or cats and get their feedback. Put yourself out there and lend a listening ear to your customer (we find social media equally great at this when not at an event) - it's one of the best market researchers you will ever get.
9. Help whenever you can
Camper is one of the dogs we recently sterilised and found a fosterer for where he could recover post surgery. He is back at OSCAS shelter ready and waiting for his forever loving home. If you like hugs, walks, company and affectionate he's the perfect match!
Before Loyal.D was even a thought in our minds we were already doing volunteer work at shelters and feeding strays. To be able to carry on with our volunteering was always important and to be able to blend it into our business model of giving back made having a business so much more motivating! When you can see the ways you can help in society and especially for animals which too often are neglected without a voice .... do it! Every sale on www.loyald.com helps us raise funds for animal welfare. To date we have raised enough funds to get three shelter dogs sterilised & fostered, used our resources to help three shelter dogs get adopted, donated collars, harnesses and leashes to shelters and sponsor training sessions, if required. We are motivated to earn not just to help grow the business, but for what we have seen we can do with the money we share and the awareness we can raise. Dogs show loyalty, love and companionship to humans in a very natural way... we have become part of their pack DNA. If another species can do it, why can't we?
Be it animals, the environment, recycling, helping children, the elderly or the needy, find a passion that makes you want to make a difference in your community and do your bit. Every little bit adds up to a whole lot of help!
HELP GIVE A MERRY XMAS GIFT TO A SHELTER!
As part of the spirit of giving and thanking you all for your support too, we and our Reindogs would like to help out shelters via our Xmas Charity Giveaway happening through instagram. Simply share our post (the one with the reindog Shiro above), like our Facebook page, tag a friend or more, tag the shelter you would like to gift to and the most liked post will receive our doggy bag worth $100, including the popular Freedom Harness recommended by dog trainers and veterinarians, leashes and bandanas. Participants will be notified before the new year!
Merry Woofmas to all and Happy Howlidays!