Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Linda Schreiber, Founder of Tuf Cookie, located in Herent, Belgium.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a subscription box business for a long and happy dog life. Besides that, I also have a separate shop where I sell the products from the surprise boxes individually without a subscription. I also started selling on Etsy. My customers are dog lovers who care about what their dog eats and want to make them happy. They are mostly women between 25-45 years old and live in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. In the future, I may expand to other countries.
Tell us about yourself
My little longhaired dachshund Amelie is my inspiration. She is quite picky regarding food and her treats and only eats the ones with the highest quality and most natural ingredients. So I started paying attention and noticed that there is a lot of crap in the food, treats, and chew snacks our dogs get. I want to ensure that Amelie is around for as long as possible, and I thought other dog lovers might feel the same way. I spent a lot of time researching the best snacks for dogs and wanted to use my knowledge to put together surprise boxes for other dog owners to make them and their dogs happy.
Besides Amelie, my customers' feedback motivates me every single day. There is no other subscription box for dogs out there (that I've come across) that pays so much attention to the ingredients of the treats, the diversity in the brands and products, and the customization (also adapting to dog's sensitivities) to make the box perfect for each customer and their furry friend.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think it is not one big accomplishment but rather many small ones. If I had to point one out, it would be to start and maintain a business all by myself. From idea over to research, sourcing, logistics, packaging, marketing, sales, fulfillment, and customer service. There is no end to all the areas you are active in. I do have a logistics partner, but that only helps with one part of the business. Also, I am very proud of my relationship with my customers, who help me develop the business further and have shared all their amazing feedback with me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Marketing full stop. In the beginning, you need to learn about all areas of the business if you don't start with a partner immediately, and I don't have a talent for social media and marketing. However, it is such a big part of the business that I had to learn Facebook/Instagram ads, YouTube ads, Google ads, TikTok ads, and work with magazines/newspapers/bloggers/YouTubers/influencers/database websites. Then you have to test, test, test, and it can be quite frustrating to spend a lot of money and not get the return on investment (ROI) you are looking for. You have to find the best channel for your business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Action! Learning is important, and I invested in courses for the areas I was not proficient in, such as Facebook ads. However, shortly after learning, you have to DO the things you learned on a daily basis. Don't procrastinate. Have a to-do List for every day and stick to it.
- Stay positive! There will be MANY times when you don't succeed; you wasted a lot of money, and something did not go as planned. Don't give up. See it as learning, a mistake you made and now move on and get back to your to-do list.
- Find a balance! When I watched some of the interviews with Elon Musk, I know that he is very successful, but I noticed that he looked very sleep-deprived, stressed, and also a little unhappy. I started this entrepreneurship journey because I don't only want to work. Of course, especially in the beginning, you will have to do this and have some sleepless nights. However, later when you are at a good level, don't forget this is not a sprint but a marathon. You have to set rules for yourself not to burn out. I make sure that I take at least one day off during the week when I don't work at all, for example.
Where can people find you and your business?
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