Sheila Duncan – Founder and Co-Creator of Trouble The Dog

[quote style=”boxed”]One business idea is to create your own advisory board. Take time to gather a group of people you trust and admire so you might ask their opinion(s) on your venture and its direction.[/quote]

Sheila Duncan has been a restaurant owner, a travel industry executive and a life coach. Having made the decision to sell her family’s more than 50-year-old restaurant, Sheila didn’t know what to do next. It was Trouble that finally led her on the path which is her life’s purpose.

When her niece sketched an innocent, adorable dog, Sheila saw something more. Since 2007, when the first Trouble plush dogs arrived, Sheila has made it her mission to bring the story of Trouble and the children’s book she authored, Here’s Trouble, to as many children as possible.

Trouble has a spirit of his own which children are drawn to like a magnet. Trouble brings hope, comfort and joy to kids in need, and he always makes children smile. Presently, Trouble is being presented to major television networks as a cartoon series. Sheila also works with the SPCA of Tennessee to provide homes for abandoned dogs. To date, Sheila has placed more than 50 dogs in happy forever homes. Sheila’s own Golden Retriever, Skye, is now as a certified therapy dog.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I am working on a PR campaign to broaden the reach of Trouble The Dog.

I have been fortunate to collaborate with an incredible woman named Carrie Schluter, who is not only truly creative but also an angel in disguise. We have a brand-new website which delivers Trouble’s message of hope in a clear, simple, compelling way.

Where did the idea for Trouble The Dog come from?

The idea of Trouble The Dog came after losing a number of family members to cancer within a short period of time. My then 12-year-old niece wanted to help other children going through tough times, and between us, Trouble was born.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day for me starts with a great big cup of coffee early in the morning while I organize my thoughts. I then sit down at the computer and go through emails, get back to inquiries and figure out how to expand the brand of Trouble The Dog.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Amazingly, many ideas come to me while I’m trying to fall asleep. Not very restful, but extremely creative. I then put them on paper first thing the next morning. The actual concept of Trouble is quite divinely inspired, so I make sure to pay attention whenever an idea strikes—even in the middle of the night.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The ability to connect with so many people through social media excites me. I’m quite new to it all but will tell you a quick story:

I decided to try once again to have Trouble manufactured here in the US. The contact I now have which looks so promising came through an ex-pat in Turkey named Tara Agacayak, who connected me to a designer named Mari Robeson Mari Robeson Home in California. Mari then made the introduction for me. How great is that?

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was working a soda fountain counter as a teenager. It taught me what I didn’t want to do as a career.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again as an entrepreneur, I would have taken a computer course instead of learning as I went/go along.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

The one thing I consistently do is follow my gut instinct. There have been a number of circumstances where I had to get quiet and determine exactly what it was that was crucial to the mission of Trouble—even if that decision might have gone against conventional wisdom.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One failure I just recently had was with a manufacturer overseas. I could not translate the nuance of the necessary fabric for Trouble, which is really soft and snuggly.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One business idea is to create your own advisory board. Take time to gather a group of people you trust and admire so you might ask their opinion(s) on your venture and its direction.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

If I could change one thing in the world, it would be to help every child in need. That’s where Trouble comes in. He’s a coping mechanism so children feel safe talking about their problems and also allows them to “never feel alone.” Just today, I spoke with a local woman working with the homeless in the town next to mine. She stated that the average age of the homeless they serve is eight.

My goal is to turn Trouble into a global symbol of hope and resilience for children and to shed light on what’s really happening right here in this country, as well all over the world. A cartoon series could show children that they can “pick themselves up and dust themselves off” and make them smile, too. It would also allow me to generate funds to open Trouble’s Home(s) For Children, which is very much on my radar screen.

Tell us a secret.

A secret is that I’m not giving up on Trouble as long as I have breath left!

What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?

1.  As I’m really not very computer savvy still, I would have to say I love Google because it gives me all sorts of research stats I use in my work.

2.  I also like Facebook because it allows Trouble to connect to so many people.

3.  For dog rescue, has been a huge help for the SPCA of Tennessee, with whom I volunteer.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Honestly, it’s been a really long time since I’ve had the pleasure of reading an entire book. But, the next one on my list is The Alchemist—great for entrepreneurs, I understand.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

The last time I laughed out loud was this past weekend. I woke up feeling great and decided to take my dog, Skye, to the beach for a swim as it was a glorious day. Everything was perfect until two running dogs slammed into my knees and I was airborne for a minute. What are the odds? So, I literally “picked myself up and dusted myself off.”

Who is your hero?

Kids are my heroes. That’s the truth. They have such pure hearts and are so giving and caring. Adults often don’t take the time to give children the credit they deserve. They are my inspiration.

Where would you like to see Trouble in the next few years?

I would like to see Trouble as the star of his own cartoon series teaching children gently how to navigate life. I also would like to begin building homes for children in need so they might have their own beds and, of course, their own buddy…Trouble.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

My hope is that within five years’ time, I will be able to oversee the concept of Trouble in an advisory capacity. To grow his brand and message all over the world, helping one child, one smile at a time. “Where There’s Trouble … There’s Hope.”


Trouble The Dog’s Website:
Trouble The Dog’s Email:  [email protected]