Siblings Kevin Peiris and Rukshani Peiris are two young Aviation graduates who can now be called self-made entrepreneurs. Over the last few years they have founded and developed a network of businesses and the latest addition to their network is Happy Paws (Pvt.) Ltd, an online pet supplies store that was founded in September 2020.
Fast-forward to today, Happy Paws has expanded operations globally and has its own warehouse spaces in the United States and Germany and a distribution center in Sri Lanka.
With this growth, they have brought in many new products and advances in pet supplies and nutritional food products.
Today, they talk about their journey in the challenging world of business.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
Well, we are both aviators by profession but we have always had a passion for business as we believe business is the gateway to a world of endless possibilities.
Our first business venture was a Travel and Tour Company based in Sri Lanka which we eventually expanded to form a Group of Companies.
Our latest venture is Happy Paws, an online pet supplies store. Both of us are pet lovers and we recognized that there was a need for a one-stop-shop for pet supplies in Sri Lanka. So we took that small step towards the bigger decision and started Happy Paws. Now we are a brand serving customers from all across the world.
Where did the idea for the name of your company come from?
Our motive is to provide the best products in the market for pets and to put a smile on them, so we came up with the name Happy Paws and created our slogan ‘Keep Your Pets Smiling’
What is your brand’s philosophy?
Quality service is the key philosophy at Happy Paws. We strive to satisfy our customers with quality and knowledgeable service and our employees are trained to provide a committed, friendly, and professional approach when dealing with customers.
We are passionate about our work because we all love pets and we are committed to helping pets stay happy and healthy.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that actually motivates and drives you?
Seeing positive and appreciative reactions
Running your own business means that you can give customers what you believe to be the best products and services. Seeing positive and appreciative reactions from your customers based on what you provide them can be incredibly motivating especially if you are tired or not having the best day.
As entrepreneurs, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to turn our passions into profits, while still helping people and pets and it’s been our best motivation to keep going forward!
Being responsible for the income of our employees and their families has played a key role in motivating us to ensure the business is successful. It’s stressful at times but it drives us to seek as many opportunities to grow and ensure the company is thriving.
It’s also quite rewarding to know that we are able to support these families and it makes us want to grow our business.
Seeing the impact of our work.
The impact of our work is another driving force to keep going because seeing how our products help our customers and our contribution to the local community by organizing and taking part in various social and environmental projects gives us a sense of pure satisfaction.
What’s your daily routine? How do you achieve work-life balance?
Work-life balance is definitely not an easy task and it can be extremely difficult at times especially when you have to oversee operations in different countries like Sri Lanka, Germany, and the USA, as they have a huge time difference. We often stay on our work computers until past 2 a.m.
However, we always try to go by the saying ‘work smarter not harder because by experience we know how well adopting the right combination of time-management practices can cut stress.
As entrepreneurs, we also have to accept the fact that there are some things that we cannot control. If we want to achieve a healthy work-life balance, we have to learn to let go of the things that we have no control over. Otherwise, the stress will end up taking over much of our time and health.
Can you describe your management style in brief?
Since we started the business, we have made it a priority to communicate regularly with our brand partners, employees, and our customers. “One Team. One Goal’’ That’s what we are looking at. With that said, we think it’s best to lead by example and not by command.
Team management is a skill that you develop from listening to others, laying out clear expectations, and working with your employees.
What do you think makes up a good management team?
Diversity of skills and strengths.
For a management team to work effectively, the members of the team have to complement each other. We can’t bring the same strengths to the team or we’ll just end up agreeing with each other on everything. We need to debate and disagree and have dialogues to make decisions for the best interest of the business.
Why do you think that PR is the tool you need to implement in your business and how it helps to grow your business?
Public relations is all about creating relationships to expand our brand’s influence in our industry and community.
A good PR will build trust and credibility for our brand. Since this is a customer-based business we always need to maintain a good relationship with our customers.
We believe that strong PR will definitely boost the brand visibility and it will help in creating long-lasting relationships with the customers.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the SME space. Has it worked generating business for you?
Yes indeed! Facebook and Instagram have both done a tremendous job in spreading the word about our business. Social media marketing is a powerful tool and as entrepreneurs and SMEs we must know how to use it effectively. Tools like these are an extremely powerful way to reach new markets as well as keep current customers abreast of new sales and products.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Don’t be scared to try. Don’t be scared to mess up. And when you do mess up, which you invariably will, don’t give up. Most importantly, you have to believe in yourself, in your company and in the notion that you have the ability to create a better future for yourself and your business.
How do you transmit your culture from your office to front-line employees?
Our culture is fantastic and we take a lot of pride in it. We have a collaborative nature and egos are sent out of the door. We are very open to ideas and everyone has a voice.
We have a culture of caring about our customers, suppliers, and of course caring about one another, and caring about the commitment to do a better job tomorrow than we are doing today.
How do you measure success?
We measure success with heart and with numbers. To be successful we must have both. First, we consider our mission. Are our customers satisfied and their pets happy?
Are our employees happy and enjoying their work? Are they prospering and feeling effective? Then as a business, we look at numbers to confirm that success is reflected in our growth and profitability.
What can we expect from your company in the next 12 to 18 months?
We will continue to work hard to grow our company, add locations, and serve our customers.
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