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Cynthia Carter

Mobile, AL

INDUSTRY: OTHER SERVICES
BUSINESS: WALKS AND WAGS
YEAR FOUNDED: 1991
PROGRAM: 2016 EMERGING LEADERS BIRMINGHAM
“No one ever tells you when to stop and re-evaluate your business and form a new plan.”
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Started in New Orleans but forced to relocate after Hurricane Katrina, Walks and Wags today serves the people and the pets of Mobile, Alabama. Owner Cynthia Carter started the business out of a simple desire to do what she loved most: be around dogs. Today her business employs 9 people from the local community, all of whom share her passion. The staff at Walks and Wags provides training, boarding, grooming, and daycare for four-legged friends.

LEARNING TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHANGES
When Cynthia first moved to Mobile, she recalls how “everybody helps you start your new business, but after that--after three or four years down the road--nobody says, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’” Although her business experienced success early on, she realized she was not taking time to see where her business was heading. In 2016, she participated in the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program, powered by Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’. “I wanted to get advice and then education from someone who’s been there and done that,” Cynthia says. “Certainly the Small Business Administration would be the place to go.”

Since starting the program, Cynthia has already made dramatic changes. Along with opening a second location, she converted her staff from part-time to full-time. “I’ve got better quality employees that are more dedicated, more passionate, and really interested in a career in this type of work because of it!” Cynthia also removed some of her services while adding and expanding other services to meet customer needs. Because of her changes, over the last year revenues have increased by around 25 percent.

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