Getting Started: How One Corporate Exec Went from Workdays to Doggy Daycare

Robin Crawford, owner of Dogma Dog Care (770-436-4346) in Smyrna, Georgia, credits her experience working in Corporate America for much of her success as an entrepreneur. The 10,000-square-foot facility offers grooming and boarding services to dogs and cats; Crawford opened the business catering to four-legged clients in 2008. Today, the 50-year-old oversees a full-time staff of 15 and a business with revenues of $500,000 this past year. She looks to more than double those figures for year-end 2011 by expanding her facility and services.

Here, Crawford shares three of her most valuable entrepreneurial lessons from stints at such companies as IBM, The Coca-Cola Company and WellPoint Health Networks.

1. Be slow to hire and quick to fire. Finding and retaining the right people is crucial to growing a successful business. Large companies often have steps put in place to release employees who are not working up to expectations.  “If you’ve hired someone who isn’t working out, cut your losses sooner rather than later. It doesn’t benefit your business or the individual to let the situation linger,” Crawford says.

2. Create a multi-generational workplace. From Crawford’s background in diversity and inclusion, she learned that Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y have different strengths and perspectives, which can help a company appeal to a diverse customer base. “My employees with more experience and my younger employees actually learn from each other,” she says. “That is a win-win for the business and my customers.”

3. Make giving a business priority. Corporate giving is a major initiative for large companies that not only provides a forum for philanthropy, but raises the companies’ profiles as well. Crawford serves on the board of directors for Ahimsa House, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, and Dogma Dog Care provides care for their pets. The move allows Crawford to make a difference in an area that’s important to her while raising her company’s visibility among animal lovers. “Join forces with a non-profit that aligns with a cause that’s important to you and get involved,” she says.

For more on Dogma Dog Care, read “Canine Chic” in the January 2011 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, which is on national newsstands now.

Tell us what you think: Crawford successfully adapted her skills to a new environment. Have you done the same? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned from an unexpected area of interest or field?

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