"Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the view never changes."
Instinctually, I've lived this quote in most of my life. Confidence and a "go for what I want" attitude comes naturally to me, but it's never without its ups and downs. Risks and rewards teach me that no matter what...life is hard, so we might as well make the life we want!
In 2006, I opened my first retail store in Chicago called Dogaholics. Here's the risk - I picked a location only 200 feet from Chicago's first and most successful dog boutique. Yep, that decision made my life very difficult. Since most vendors wouldn't sell to me (among other intense challenges), I had to get creative. So, I sourced unique, never seen in Chicago product lines. Customers ended up loving my selection leading to a great reward. My first year in this hyper-competitive market, we did $600k in revenue!
Within two years, I opened two more locations and grew to 27 employees (and I was only 27, myself! I had no idea what I was doing!). I was $400k in debt, and as luck would have it the recession was just getting started (can you sense my inner wolf growling?). I started to wonder why I had done this to myself. Why did I grow so fast? Where did all the money go? Why was I working 16 hours a day? Why were my employees not listening to me? Why did I gain so much weight? Why was my marriage failing?
Running a pet business sure wasn't about playing with puppies all day! My journey was paved with serious obstacles and struggles, expansion and contraction that almost put me out of business, and challenges that taught me to turn any crisis into a growth opportunity.
Since my days of struggle and overwhelm, I've taken my initial concept of a brick and mortar retail location and turned it into multiple revenue streams - retail, grooming, doggy daycare, boarding, training, dog walking, play park memberships, online informational products, books, merchandise, and now business consulting through Pet Boss Nation.
My proudest achievement was hitting the 7-figure revenue mark with two separate business models.
How did I turn it all around? The answer is easy. I stopped running my business like I was self-employed and started running it like a business. I didn't even realize there was a difference until I got support and gained more knowledge.
I believe to my core that when we invest in ourselves, we will always win. It's never CAN YOU do something. Rather, WILL YOU do something.
"Working with Candace is a complete joy! As a solo-preneur, all too often I get buried in the minutia of running my business. Her fresh eyes have been terrific to see and understand my processes and suggest better, more efficient ways to complete our tasks. Candace also brings knowledge from the retail side of the fence to our relationship. As a manufacturer selling to wholesale/retail accounts, that has been invaluable to Scout & Zoe's. Not only have I restructured many internal tasks, but I also have a greater understanding of the retail stores and how we can better serve each store and client in our wholesale family. If you are considering engaging the services of Candace, do it! You will not be disappointed. She is soooo worth it!"
Cindy Dunston Quirk
"I found working with Candace incredibly helpful. She thought outside of the box for preparing me for a trade show. She looked at the things I already had in my portfolio and helped me monetize on them in new ways, by repackaging them to benefit a new category of customers. Candace is very easy to work with and always made me feel comfortable (I can be a hot mess sometimes)...she was open and willing to listen, very supportive and I feel very lucky to have had her right there with me. I absolutely recommend hiring Candace!"
"For any pet business owner looking for guidance or direction, Candace D’Agnolo is the person you should reach out to. Her questions & coaching skills help with re-paving and actually directing you on to the path that best fits your goals. If your business and your goals are worlds apart her honesty and her coaching are absolutely necessary to get you on track. I have many mentors but none that know this specific industry so I chose to hire Candace for her insight and overall background for that very reason. I have followed her directions in making specific changes and thankfully they have all been the reasons for increased profits. I look forward to continuing our work together."
"Candace has helped me do the "hard work" in realizing my goals, organizing my priorities, and helps me to reach even higher than I thought was attainable. When I needed help working through a business deal or marketing campaign, she knew what I need before I got there. She gave me the tools to be confident in my ideas and plans and her cut & dry approach means we get things DONE! She knows all the ins and outs of business/marketing, and I owe her my success."
"Candace is a dynamic guru of all things doggy-market. In the course of a couple coffee talk hours talk, she had my head spinning with ideas for growth. My business is better for meeting her."
"Everything Candace shares in Pet Boss Nation is good, solid marketing practices. I love the way she breaks everything down into actionable steps."