DC Health Link’s Powerup DC 2020 Small Business Forum looked a little different this year as speakers joined virtual panels from their homes and businesses. Topics ranged from woman-owned small businesses to youth entrepreneurship, with the main focus being on how local businesses are adjusting amid the current pandemic and the resources available to them through the city. Among the speakers was Columbia Heights Main Street business owner, Patrick Flynn of Patrick’s Pet Care.

Speaking on the panel for Small Business Development – Insights and Resources to Navigate Uncertain Times, Flynn shared the ways his business has shifted, as well as their use of the Paycheck Protection Program funds they received earlier in the year. 

“It was very important to me that I keep their jobs, and . . . give them skills to do new jobs for the new normal.”

Patrick Flynn, Owner of Patrick’s Pet Care

“We were tremendously privileged and lucky to receive a PPP loan,” said Flynn. “When the month of March started, we were doing 300 daily dog walks… by the end of March, we were doing 85.” With many of their clients working from home, Patrick’s Pet Care’s large staff was left wondering what was next. “It was very important to me that I keep their jobs, and not only keep their jobs, but perhaps give them skills to do new jobs for the new normal,” said Flynn. His solution? Enrolling his entire dog-walking staff in dog training school. Thanks to the PPP funds, Flynn was able to utilize his business’s existing tuition benefit program and pay for his staff’s training.

Equipped with new knowledge around pet-care, Flynn and his team have built out a new Force-Free, Fear-Free grooming service to reduce the trauma many dogs face during grooming. Their new approach is, “patient, and compassionate, and empathetic to [the dogs’] needs,” said Flynn. Patrick’s Pet Care has also developed what Flynn refers to as, “dog Montessori school,” Dog Daycare 2.0. This new daycare program is, “structured, it focuses on the mental, emotional, and physical needs that a dog needs to thrive,” said Flynn. “So far our reception to both [programs] has been positive.”

The moderator, Carl Brown, State/Executive Director of the DC Small Business Development Center, was impressed with Patrick Flynn’s ability to adapt his business. “Wow, unbelievable,” Brown exclaimed as he wrapped up the panel. You can watch the full video here to learn more about the ways small businesses are recalibrating in this time, and about access to resources through DC’s Department of Small and Local Business Development.