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Inspiration for a new business venture can come from the most unlikely places. Abe Geary found his inspiration to create PetPaint, a colorful hair spray for dogs, while attempting to get Billie, his Giant Schnauzer, to wear a Halloween costume. After she squirmed her way out of every outfit, he decided to develop something she wouldn’t know she was wearing: a safe, temporary colored fur spray.

Recently, Geary met with the Bigcommerce team to share some of the wisdom he has learned throughout his career, from a successful business-to-business entrepreneur to a guest on Shark Tank. Scroll down to check out a few of Abe’s tips. You can also check out the full story of how Abe grew his dream into a successful online store here.

Abe’s top tips For entrepreneurs

Start small and crank it out

Starting a new business is a long process. Sometimes you have to crawl before you walk. It’s important to find the right workflow and tools that will help your new business scale at the appropriate pace to get your products into the world.

“Through the process of getting this started and everything else, I learned to start small, get it out,” Geary said. “The best way to do that for me was through an eCommerce platform like Bigcommerce.”

Community, community, community

In the beginning, no one really knows about your products or business. Building a community of followers or evangelists can make a world of difference.

“Not a whole lot of people knew about us, but I feel like that is going to change pretty rapidly,” Geary said. “It’s just building the community. It’s showing that there is some intrinsic value to PetPaint.”

Don’t eat your own dog food

Before pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams, do your homework and make sure you’re going after a viable market of customers. It’s easy to believe your own opinion, but try to be a realist.

“Be your first critic and don’t quit your day job until you know it’s going to make you money,” Geary said. “Because things always take longer and cost more money than you ever could possibly imagine.”

Tips from a Shark

It’s tough being thrown into the Tank. Judges on the popular television show, Shark Tank, will hit you with tough questions and there is a lot to learn from the best in the industry. Sometimes you need to listen to the words of a seasoned mentor.

“Shark Tank was a good experience for me in that you walk into this room and you exchange a lot of ideas and a lot of questions in a short period of time,” Geary said. “Mark Cuban’s biggest advice on the show was, “Why don’t you go the eCommerce route rather than trying to build the wholesale-retail network? Go straight to the consumer.”

For more on PetPaint, check out their Bigcommerce success story.

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