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Spotlight: FlipFlop Dogs Offers an Alternative to Kenneling

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-12-17 14:00

Going on vacation when you have a dog at home can be stressful. You can leave your dog at a kennel where it could spend most of the day isolated from people. Or you can convince a friend to look after your dog. Or you can take it with you on vacation. But FlipFlop Dogs offers a new option.

The company pairs vacationing dog owners with local caretakers who can look after their dogs in a real home while they are away. This model aims to give peace of mind to vacationing dog owners. And the business has even expanded with franchises and companion families in multiple states. Read more about this unique business idea in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does:

Provides individual dog boarding options.

Founder Taffy Miltz explains:

“Our franchisees offer the alternative to kenneling. Our customers’ dogs stay in the home of one of our carefully selected Companion Families while they are away. Here they receive one to one care around the clock while maintaining their normal home-life routine in a warm, loving home. Round-trip transportation is provided to alleviate stressful departures.”

Business Niche:

Matching dogs with the best companions in their area.

Instead of utilizing a traditional kenneling system, FlipFlop Dogs matches dogs with families who can care for them in an actual home setting. Miltz says:

“Our concept is different than the current options as we take care of all the details regarding the care of the dog. From arranging pick-up and return to matching the dog with our exclusive Companion Match system, that matches the best Companion Family to fit the needs.”

How the Business Got Started:

Because of a love of dogs.

Miltz and her husband had already worked in the pet care industry for over 25 years. They also owned dogs and didn’t really care for the kenneling experience. So when they were looking to start a new pet-related business, they decided to offer an alternative. Miltz explains:

“We had just picked up our 95-pound dog, Charlie, from the kennel. Like usual, he was not the same as when we took him there. Being locked in a cage, not getting outside for more than a few brief (paid for) 10-minute walks combined with the loud noises from other dogs barking, made him anxious, over stimulated and completely stressed out. While speaking to other people, they had the same problem. They would either choose not to go away, or only travel within driving distance. This led us to examining more options and realizing that, in the U.S., dog owners do not have a true alternative to kenneling that is convenient, reliable, consistent and reasonably priced. This is how we came up with the FlipFlop concept. We developed FlipFlop in a way that we would feel comfortable having Charlie stay with one of our franchisees. We are very picky dog parents, and the FlipFlop experience makes Charlie feel like he never left home! He loves going on vacation now.”

Biggest Risk:

Bringing a new concept to the U.S.

The Miltz family first heard about the alternative kenneling method thanks to some friends who had used a similar service in Europe. But nothing quite like it existed in the U.S. So they were not only starting a business, but starting an entirely new concept that most people in the country were not familiar with.

Lesson Learned:

Be selective with franchisees.

Because of the nature of the business, FlipFlop Dogs uses a franchise system to reach as many dog owners in as many locations as possible. So initially, the company might have been a little too eager to gain new franchisees. Miltz says:

“We found very quickly that just because someone had the money to invest in your company, does not make them a good fit. You will be working as a team for many years to come and if you do not have the same values and goals it will hurt you in the long run.”

Biggest Win:

Appearing on Taking Stock.

The Miltzs were invited to do an interview with Pimm Fox on Taking Stock, a show on the Bloomberg Channel in New York. This allowed them to really get the word out about their business and the new option they offer for vacationing dog owners. Miltz says:

“We were so thrilled to be able to share our franchise concept with millions of Americans. Watching the interview afterwards was really fun and made us incredibly grateful to share our growing concept with dog lovers around the country.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000:

Marketing.

Miltz says:

“We spent a fair amount of our budget on marketing avenues. This remains the best way to get our name, concept and interest from dog lovers. We are always brainstorming new ideas on how local franchisees can grow their business and how we can increase the number of franchise leads. Investing in marketing is such a great way to allow your brand’s identity to show, while informing and educating consumers about your brand.”

How the Business Got its Name:

By being forced to get creative.

Miltz explains:

“When we were looking for a cute dog business name, every name we came up with was already registered. After yet another name rejection, our business attorney told us to think outside the box. One evening, we were sitting around the dinner table, brainstorming some ideas and someone jokingly started listing vacation terms; such as beach towel, pina colada, beach chairs, etc. Then it finally hit us, flip-flops! You wouldn’t go on a relaxing, beach vacation without them! Flip-flops signify a fun, happy, easy-going vacation — exactly what a FlipFlop doggy vacation is like.”

Favorite Quote:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: FlipFlop Dogs

The post Spotlight: FlipFlop Dogs Offers an Alternative to Kenneling appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Adobe Acquires Fotolia for $800 Million

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-12-17 11:30

Adobe is giving its Creative Cloud users simpler access to millions of stock images and videos. The company recently announced that it has reached a deal to purchase Fotolia for $800 million cash.

Adobe plans to incorporate Fotolia’s stock image library into its Creative Cloud suite. This would give Creative Cloud members the ability to purchase and use Fotolia images and HD videos for the content they’re creating and sharing.

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15 Traits of Successful People

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-12-17 09:00

What traits help set successful people apart? What makes Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett different from anyone else? Small business owners and entrepreneurs realize success isn’t just luck. Here are some traits of successful people to help you catch a bit of that magic for yourself.

1. They Plan for the Future

Looking towards the future is a key trait among successful people, writes Kalen Bruce at Lifehacker.org. Whether it be making a to-do list for tomorrow or planning for your retirement, planning ahead is important to keep yourself and your goals on track.

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Celebrating the Biggest YouTube Moments of the Year

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2014-12-17 06:30

As 2014 winds down, it’s time to reflect on the past twelve months. YouTube took a look back at the year and created a celebratory video, “YouTube Rewind: Turn Down For 2014,” which recaps the defining moments of 2014 for the social media site:

YouTube’s recap celebrates the year’s top 10 trendiest videos, selected based on views, shares, comments, likes and more.

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Skinteractive Studios is Making Wearable Tech Fashionable

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 20:00

Tech wearables don’t have to be ugly. That’s something Amanda Parkes wants to help people realize through her work. Parkes is a fashion-tech consultant. Her company Skinteractive Studios works with different companies to develop garments and accessories that utilize technology as enhancements.

One example of her work is a bra that responds to body heat. So instead of using an underwire for support, the garment will mold to a woman’s shape and be much more comfortable.

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Be Patient With The Progression of Your Business Career

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 18:30

Careers used to move themselves. Now, we are responsible for moving our careers in the direction we want them to go. But there are some fundamental tools that can help with the pace of your business career.

People want things to happen quickly — immediate gratification — and it just doesn’t work that way. We all have to meander towards fulfillment, learning and advancement.

Success compounds over time through experience, accomplishment and circumstance. Sometimes its vertical, lateral, sideways and backwards.

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Use Dwolla in AccountingSuite and for 30 Second Payments

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 16:30

Digital payment option Dwolla recently made two big announcements that may increase the number of people who use the payments system and the speed at which its transactions are completed.

First, Dwolla has been integrated into AccountingSuite.

AccountingSuite is an all-in-one app for accounting, inventory, order management, and time and project tracking. Integrating with Dwolla allows AccountSuite vendors to accept and request Dwolla payments from their customers.

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Feedly Satisfies Your Appetite for the Latest News and Information

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 14:00

If you’ve ever tried to keep up with the latest updates on multiple blogs and news sites, you know just how time-consuming that task can be. Feed readers help folks streamline that chore by consolidating the updates, from the sources they follow, in one central spot where they can be read, saved and shared.

Back in 2013, the preeminent feed reader tool was Google Reader. When Google decided to shelve the tool, users scrambled to find a solution to replace the one they had depended upon for years. Riding to the rescue, feedly quickly became a popular choice.

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LinkedIn Launches Streamlined Page Including Analytics

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 11:30

LinkedIn has updated the look of its profile pages by making analytics and insight front-and-center. On the new LinkedIn page, users will find two important stats right at the top.

First, they’ll see how many people have been visiting their profiles on the professional social network. Just under that figure, they’ll see updates on how their LinkedIn updates are performing on the network.

For instance, if you shared an interesting article you wrote or read, you’ll get information on how many people have viewed that specific update.

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20 Suggestions to Boost Your Personal Productivity

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2014-12-16 09:00

It’s not just the idea but the execution that leads to success. So productivity is a major part of the equation.

But what happens when you hit that wall? How do productive people work through creative blocks and energy crashes to get so much work done? Here are 20 suggestions to boost your personal productivity.

1. Know When to Take a Break.

The most productive people know when to take a step back and take a break. Working at maximum productivity for hours at a time is exhausting and stressful. Instead, working in short bursts is more effective, writes Kim Roch at Lifehack.org.

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