Gila Kurtz is a #1 international best-selling author and serial entrepreneur who found her deepest passion in working with dogs and their people. Following a career in education, she built a successful dog training business and then co-founded the award-winning, highly recognizable lifestyle brand for dog lovers, Dog is Good. Along with her husband, Jon, Gila took the Dog is Good brand from start-up to a seven-figure company.
She is the recipient of several business awards, including recognition as one of the top 25 women of influence in the pet industry, Woman of the Year by the Women in the Pet Industry Network, and was featured in Success Magazine, Forbes Magazine, and on the Grow Wire Show.
Author of Fur Covered Wisdom…A Dog Can Change the Way You See the World, Gila’s dog-centric approach to life, leadership, and relationships is authentic and immediately relatable. She utilizes her skills as a canine expert and compelling teacher to engage audiences in “muttnificent mastery” and inspires individuals to “fetch a life worth barking about.”
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Gila to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
After marrying an “officer and a gentleman”, I quickly realized that maintaining my chosen profession as a teacher would be challenged by the moves that occurred every two years. I decided to launch a business selling lingerie at home parties. As I experienced success, I began looking for other businesses that I could easily transport from move to move. As often happens, with every experience new doors open and those doors opened to the roads which paved the way to where I am today as an entrepreneur.
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
My life did not look that much different. I am a lifelong learner and have always spent time focused on personal growth and development. I have always focused on delivering more than expected. I have always made my health and values a priority.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
The desire to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world and community around me.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Magnetic: I attract what I focus on …and I focus on attracting only good people into my life, only good opportunities to align with, and I stay committed to my vision to change lives one dog at a time.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
Create something stylish and meaningful that highlights the dog-human bond.
Build a family business.
Make a difference.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
– Take time to identify the bigger picture vision and get clear on why you want to create your business.
– Identify and focus on revenue-generating activities
– Align with people who share your core values
– Never worry about the “how”…Identify the “ who”
– Ask for help
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
– Costly manufacturing disasters: found new manufacturers, shifted strategy on growing sales.
– COVID: regrouped, assessed core verticals, and leaned in on what was working.
– Team: early on we did not have the right people in the right places…learned to hire for values and work ethic.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Word of mouth, b2c conversations, email marketing, and Facebook.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
I am a bottleneck for growth if I don’t empower others around me. Lead by example, empower others, trust but verify. I hold the vision – but I don’t know everything…learn from the experts I bring to the team.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Focus on where you are going…not on where you are at.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Know where you want to go and who you need to help get you there. Get a mentor, fast.