Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Courtney DeDi, owner of Club DiOGi, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Club DiOGi (pronounced Dee Oh Gee) is enrichment-based doggy daycare, boarding, and training facility for dogs 35 lbs. and under located between the Buckhead, Morningside, and Midtown neighborhoods. We exist to provide a safe daycare and boarding environment for the little pups of Atlanta, addressing the needs of the whole dog. We achieve this with physical exercise in monitored small group play (10-15 dogs per group), essential nap time in crates or suites with vet-approved aromatherapy and classical music in our zen room, treat puzzles, and various enrichment activities.
Our facility offers a huge playroom with plenty of room to run, jump, wrestle, and play fetch as well as an outdoor, artificial turf yard for the pups to go potty. We require that all Club members come on a regular schedule each week, and all non-members attend daycare at least twice per month in order to utilize our boarding services. We are staffed 24 hours per day when more than one dog is scheduled to board with us. Because we are a boutique-sized facility with no more than 40 dogs per day, we are able to provide a more personal experience for the doggy guests and their humans.
Tell us about yourself
I started DiOGi Pet Services 12 years ago as a side hustle to my job working at a large chain grocery store. The side hustle turned into a legitimate business within a year accidentally. However, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I suppose it runs in my blood, and it wasn't so accidental after all! I built my business on creating and maintaining relationships with clients through transparency, communication, and top-notch customer service. At one time, I had more than 30 employees walking dogs and pet sitting. 3.5 years ago, I opened the doors to Club DiOGi after graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business National Program.
I wanted to ensure that I had a business that could provide more stability and growth opportunities for the company and my employees. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic did force me to discontinue all in-home dog walking and pet sitting services at the beginning of 2022. The ever-changing demand for in-home pet care when most people are still working from home created an unpredictable work environment for my employees, forcing them to find more stable jobs. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that have come from my original business and where we are today with Club DiOGi. I have 12 employees, and we are now able to offer benefits such as health insurance for our full-timers. This is a goal I have worked hard towards for many years. It brings me an immense amount of joy to see the dogs busting out of their parents' cars, excited to arrive at "school."
I love watching dogs develop friendships, become better behaved, learn new tricks, and gain confidence. Getting feedback from clients about how at ease they are leaving their dogs with us and improved behavior happening at home because they attend Club DiOGi…these are the ultimate reasons why I get up every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Offering health insurance to full-timers feels like the ultimate accomplishment thus far. Being able to value my team in a meaningful way has always been my goal, but with the in-home business being mostly cash flow with no real controllable costs or able to predict business volume, I was never able to do that. Being accepted to and graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business National Program as well as being interviewed live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is at the top of my list as well.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The inability to ever truly disconnect or take time off is probably the most difficult when balancing a relationship. My brain is always thinking of ways to improve business operations or coming up with new value-added services for clients.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I absolutely recommend anyone looking to start a new business today to look ahead and start your business with the future in mind. It's something I wish I had done, but because it was a side hustle turned business without intention, I had to be in a more reactive state of mind rather than being proactive.
- Don't let perfection get in the way of progress. You don't have to know everything right away.
- Get involved and attend as many networking events as possible, especially the chambers of commerce. Here you will also create entrepreneurs' friendships to share ideas, support each other, commiserate, etc...
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Please follow us on social media as we plan to expand our facility in 2022. Stay tuned for more information!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.