Courtney Dedi grew up in a family of small business owners and says being an entrepreneur runs in her blood. In previous jobs, she never felt like she was reaching her potential without the ability to pave her own way. So when her dog walking and pet sitting side hustle income exceeded her main job income, she knew she was on to something big.
“I left the comfort of a stable job with benefits and a career path to pursue my passion of helping people and their pets. I have never looked back,” she said.
Today, Courtney is the owner of Club DiOGi in Atlanta, GA. The 12-year-old company provides an upscale, boutique doggy daycare and boarding facility with a maximum of 35 dogs per day. She started her business with a friend and now has 17 employees. Courtney is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and during her cohort she learned about utilizing local and national resources available to small business owners such as SBA programs and services. She received her first SBA loan to open her boutique, enrichment-based dog daycare.
In 2020, the pandemic brought her business to a screeching halt because her services relies on people going to work and traveling. During the shutdown months, she continued to support her essential worker clients but that wasn’t enough business to keep her dog walking and pet sitting side of her operations thriving. She turned to the SBA for pandemic assistance while she navigated new challenges due to COVID-19.
“I secured two rounds of Paycheck Protection Program funding to keep my team paid for several months hoping the pandemic would come to an end soon,” Courtney said. “However, after two years of trying to force a square peg into a round hole, I ultimately chose to end the in-home services and pivot my full attention to the dog daycare that was steadily growing.”
Courtney attributes the dog daycare business growth to the pandemic because so many people sought out companionship by adopting or buying dogs while the country had to be socially distant. People seeking dog training and safe socialization opportunities are in high demand. “So much so that we are now in the process of expanding our footprint to take over the entire building of our current location,” she said.
Courtney also received COVID EIDL loans during the pandemic and said “Without the assistance, there is no doubt that I would have had to close the doors to my business.”
When asked what advice she would give other small business owners seeking capital Courtney shared, “I encourage all small businesses to utilize the services and educational programs offered by their local SBA office. Getting a business loan is much easier than going through a traditional bank if you have the proper plans in place, which the SBA Resource Partner Small Business Development Centers can help with.”