Robin Knepp works hard, worries harder and looks forward to the day when the result is a bigger company.
Knepp, 35, is the owner of All About Dogs, an 11-employee canine training and day-care provider she founded six years ago in Woodbridge, Virginia. Knepp wears many hats, including former Marine, dog lover, trainer, manager and entrepreneur. Now she has a new one: Hard Worker, one of five entrepreneurial types defined in a national study performed by Yankelovich Partners for Pitney Bowes Inc. Members of this group, which represents 20 percent of entrepreneurs, are characterized by their willingness to sweat the details to build bigger businesses.
Knepp, who was nominated by Pitney Bowes as an exemplary Hard Worker, acknowledges fitting the profile. "I probably would have classified myself as a hard worker before I even finished the test," she says.
The goal Hard Workers strive for is growth, and they're getting it. More Hard Workers reported sales growth for 1999 than any other group--with an average of 82 percent growth in volume of business. They also had the largest average annual sales, more than $700,000, and the most employees, averaging nearly 10. And Hard Workers are happy to invest other people's money in their businesses. They're the most likely to have secured a wide range of business financing, including lines of credit, business credit cards, business loans and equipment leases.
Knepp definitely puts in Hard Worker hours. "My life revolves around my business," she says. "If I'm not at work, I'm at home doing something related to my job." She also confesses to fretting: "I do tend to worry about everything."
Knepp's current concern is expanding beyond her single suburban Washington, DC location. "Growth is really important," she says. "I don't want to stay small." Knepp spends part of most days training dogs and conducting classes. Eventually, she hopes to have several locations with their own trainers and managers, while she acts as CEO.
Financing is one issue Knepp worries about. She's trying to decide whether to take out an additional loan or, preferably, find an equity investor. The source of stress, she says, "is not just getting [financing]--it's making sure you pay it back."
Taking part in the Pitney Bowes survey encouraged Knepp to change some of her ways. She now realizes not all people are hard workers like her. At the same time, she's willing to value differing perspectives, and hire those who can bring them to the company.
Knepp hopes all the effort today will pay off in the end, and that she may even get to trade in her Hard Worker crown. "I'm looking down the road," she says, "and hoping not to work as many hours."
Do you work 56 hours a week?
Does your business generate $1 million to$3 million a year?
If so, you fit the bill of the average Hard Worker. Your business is high-revenue, high-growth . . . and you must be tired. Doesn't sound like you at all? Well, whether we have you pegged or not, log on to www.pitneyworks.com, where Pitney Bowes has set up a short online survey that can settle once and for all exactly what kind of entrepreneur you are. Once you're properly diagnosed, Pitney Bowes offers online advice and information sources tailored to your type, whether it be Idealist, Optimizer, Sustainer, Juggler or Hard Worker.
Mark Hendricks is Entrepreneur's "Cutting Edge" columnist.
All About Dogs Inc., fax: (703) 497-8548, www.allaboutdogsinc.com