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Building a community helped I Heart Dogs grow their online business to more than $22 million in revenue a year with more than 50 million online followers. Founder Marshall Morris shares his advice for starting an online business in this interview.

I Heart Dogs is a company with a mission. They started as a way to save pets in shelters and animal rescues. Ten years in, they’ve fed more than 30 million shelter dogs and raised over $1.25 million to pair veterans with PTSD with service animals, truly living up to their motto of healthy pets, happy homes, and empty shelters.

This mission has clearly resonated with customers–-but that doesn’t mean their growth journey has been easy. They learned early on that sales don’t equal profit, and have lost money and overcome plenty of other challenges along the way. Marshall shares how his adaptability, tenacity, and mindset helped him build I Heart Dogs into the best online business it could be, even through its difficult periods.

The size of I Heart Dogs’ community has been a big driver of their revenue growth. In this interview, you’ll learn how they connect with potential customers and turn them into regular monthly subscribers.

If you’re wondering how to start an online business from home, one question you’re probably asking is: What does it cost to start? Marshall tells us how much they invested to launch I Heart Dogs, along with his advice for finding funding and how someone could get started with a shoestring budget.

If you want more advice on how to start an online pet business, check out these other interviews:

Secrets of the 7-Figure Etsy Shop ►

From Shark Tank to $250K/Year eCommerce Business ►

Resources – Learn more about I Heart Dogs on their website – Get step-by-step guidance to start a business with UpFlip’s courses – Hear more interviews with business founders and owners on the UpFlip podcast

t00:00 – START
00:14 – Meeting Marshall
01:08 – Startup costs
01:55 – Financing
03:20 – Attracting customers
05:42 – Warehouse tour
07:06 – Revenue
07:40 – Time to profitability
08:13 – Starting with little money
10:43 – The value of generosity
12:05 – Launching products
12:55 – Early mistakes
14:22 – Converting leads
15:20 – Growing an online business
15:57 – Best marketing platforms
16:38 – Fan blitz
18:16 – Regrets
19:14 – Customer service
20:03 – Sourcing products
21:11 – Best part of the business
22:16 – Outro

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