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A Round of Appaws for Dazzle Dog Delight!

Entrepreneur Joy Randel has always had a passion for animals. While her “day job” for many years was to manage large-scale web development projects for many different companies, when she returned home each evening it was the family dog that was the star of the show … and the star of their lives. When the economy so memorably dipped this past year and Joy found herself without work, she decided to combine her love of dogs with her Information Technology expertise and create a company that could sustain and enrich both herself and her family (family dog Rocket included).

And so, in January 2010, Dazzle Dog Delight was born. Joy quickly learned that running her own business would not be easy, and the support staff that came with her old job was definitely missed. However, knowing that her satisfied customers were boisterous romping, wagging pooches made all the work of bringing a company into fruition well worthwhile. “Dazzle Dog Delight is dedicated to passionate dog owners by providing gifts for the dog who has everything,” Joy explains.

There was a lot of work to be done before the official launch that May, and one thing Joy wanted to be certain of was that her site, www.dazzledogdelight.com, was fresh, fun, and most importantly, user-friendly. Joy found the reasonably priced service, Usertesting.com (www.usertesting.com) and put the site through usability testing. This was a crucial step on the journey to making her company a success, and a process Joy would recommend to any purveyor of a web-based business – even if the site is well established.

A move from the clean lines and neat little boxes of Corporate America into the rough-and-tumble world of entrepreneurship requires more than a little flexibility. While Dazzle Dog Delight is still a fairly new company, in the very early days of the site working and living on a shoestring budget took some getting used to for the new CEO. Joy also had to adjust to hawk-eyeing the company’s rankings on search engines like Google. Where a web-based company falls in internet searches can often make or break it – a high search ranking can cause a boom in sales, a low ranking can nearly guarantee a depleted supply of new visitors to a site.

Although Dazzle Dog Delight grows more successful every day, Joy always has her sights set firmly on future goals. “My business would be more successful if could get the time to optimize my website more for SEO [Search Engine Optimization],” states Joy. Dazzle Dog Delight sells over 800 products, and re-writing promotional descriptions of these products that better adhere to common SEO terms is definitely a priority. Joy is also growing the company in the hopes that it will eventually be acquired by a larger company. “My projected annual revenue will be $200k to $300k approximately one year after the company reaches the three-year mark,” Joy explains.

One thing Joy Randel is fiercely committed to is the nurturing and protection of homeless animals. She regularly partners with her local SPCA (East Bay SPCA) for promotional work (see her video about East Bay SPCA here: http://www.youtube.com/user/joyrandel35), and 5% of all profits from Dazzle Dog Delight go directly to the SPCA. “Creating a business that could directly benefit homeless dogs and contribute to the growth of the SPCA was a primary motivation for starting Dazzle Dog Delight,” states Joy.

While owning her own business has certainly been rewarding, it has also been eye-opening in many ways. Joy tries to share the tips and tricks she has learned along the way with other new entrepreneurs as often as possible. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are excellent (free) platforms for promoting a business (follow Dazzle Dog Delight on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dazzledogdeligh and visit the company on Facebook a www.facebook.com/dazzledogdelightfanpage). There are also quite a few free online tools that have helped to make Dazzle Dog Delight a success. “For Twitter I have used Listorious, TweepML, HootSuite, TwitterFeed, TweetDeck, Twitscoop, and TwtQpon. For Facebook I have used Welcome Tab and Shop Tab. Other great resources are: LinkedIn, TheFind.com, Google Keyword Tool, Picasa, GIMP, Doc2PDF Online, ColorPicker.com, and Ken Ward’s Zipper,” explains Joy. There are so many fantastic opportunities to grow your business with nothing more than a computer, and so many of these tools do not cost a fledgling entrepreneur a thing. What could be better?

As Dazzle Dog Delight has grown, Joy has been able to afford the luxury of hiring some extra help. She currently has three independent contractors working for her on a regular basis. But growing the company wasn’t always easy, and Joy has philosophical, as well as practical, advice for the new business owner. “The best piece of advice I ever got was ‘never deny yourself or anyone else the chance to be resilient,’” states Joy. Keeping that in mind has helped Joy stay focused on her core mission for the company (helping homeless dogs) as well as her primary future goal (eventually selling the company for a profit). “If you don’t have a lot of money, then you need to be resourceful and think out of the box. Anyone can start a company and make it successful if they have a big budget. You can buy any service or good you need to make your company a rousing success if you have unlimited resources,” Joy explains. But it’s those entrepreneurs that have to start small, that have to learn to barter and find cheaper, quicker, more creative ways around certain problems who will automatically be gaining the skill sets needed to build a wildly successful company. “The big key to being a successful new entrepreneur is that you should always be willing to reinvent your company as you get feedback from vendors, customers, and employees. You can not be too proud to accept criticism.”

Joy once met a man in his nineties and asked him if there was anything, having lived to this ripe old age, he would do differently. “I would have flossed my teeth more. I didn’t start until late in my life and even then I didn’t do it very much,” he stated simply. It is worth mentioning, of course, that this gentleman had no teeth. While this story makes for a powerful lesson in taking care of one’s health, it is also an equally powerful metaphorical lesson for the new entrepreneur. Joy explains, “You have to take care of all the little details yourself and not just focus on the aspects of your company you enjoy dealing with.” Bookkeeping, boxing up packages, keeping track of invoices – let these seemingly innocuous little chores back up and your company could wind up with, well, no teeth. “Focus on the nurturing and care of all aspects of your company,” states Joy, “and soon you will be able to afford to pay someone a salary to take care of all the little chores that seem so time-consuming now.”

Joy would love to hear from you!

Visit Joy and Dazzle Dog Delight by the following methods:
http://www.DazzleDogDelight.com
http://www.twitter.com/dazzledogdeligh
http://www.facebook.com/dazzledogdelightfanpage
1-800-289-5971

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