Dawn Sykes Highlights How She Is Making Meaningful Change in Her Community


Dawn Sykes is a registered nurse with over twenty years of experience in the medical field.

As a passionate and forward-thinking individual, Dawn is an active member of her local community and has had a positive impact on the families and youth of Richmond, Virginia. In 2006, Dawn founded J&D Enterprises LLC, focused on providing inner city youth with the necessary life skills to secure employment. With an emphasis on academics and financial literacy, Dawn is on a mission to empower at-risk youth, helping them to forge their own path.

Dawn is a perfect example of what hard work can accomplish and her top priority is giving back to those in need. Dawn quotes, “The only way to make a difference in anyone’s lives is to be the one in charge, never underestimate the well of a strong god-fearing woman to overcome any adversity”.

What do you currently do at your company?

I am the founder and President of J&D Enterprises LLC. My main purpose is to connect underserved communities within my area by providing employment opportunities. My day-to-day consists of a lot of meetings; however, since the pandemic I have been able to utilize Zoom.  I do a lot of traveling to acquire more businesses and help other businesses as well. We help them to where they want to be.

Community events are also a significant part of my position at the company. I love to get out and meet more people. The more business people you know, the better prepared you are to help grow your own. It’s an important part of being an entrepreneur. The events also let me interact with the everyday people that we serve. It’s the part I enjoy the most.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I’m a visionary. I’m a solution-based individual. I don’t want you to keep moaning and groaning about what’s not right. What I like to focus on is “what can we do to make it right, what’s the solution for that”? Let’s decide to answer. That’s me. I envision solutions to the problem that they work towards bringing to reality. There is still an obvious need today, but even before the pandemic, there was a need for programs to help the community. I have been working on getting some up and running, to provide those solutions. The inspiration behind the business is faith and resiliency.

What defines your way of doing business?

The trend that currently excites me is seeing young entrepreneurs creating a meaningful contribution to the community and to the world. If you don’t want to work for someone I understand, then create something to help humanity. Be creative, create something that can give you the financial stability that you want, as well as gratifying the needs of others. Stop talking about it. It’s more than writing it down on paper that will bring success. That’s a start, but then you have to do it. I’m very consistent. I will never give up. If there is an obstacle, I’m going over it through whatever it is. I get knocked down a lot of times, but I always get back up. I may have some bruises, but I’m never going to give up. My parents both were from North Carolina and they migrated to New York when they were in their 20s. I can only imagine what they went through to find their success. I recognize that if they can do it, I definitely can do it. That’s what I teach my son: never give up. I tell him to have options so if one thing doesn’t work out, you have a plan. The most important thing is to work for it, to not give up. Persistent and consistency will eventually pay off.

What keys to being productive can you share?

One of the biggest things to know is just don’t listen to those naysayers. Negative people tend to knock others down. When you are an entrepreneur, and especially when you are just starting out, things can be unsettled. Some people may try to make you question yourself or your ideas. As long as you keep going, you can make it happen.

It might not always go the way you wanted to go or the timeframe, but I know for sure that if you put everything into it, something’s going to happen. I always tell the younger generation to never let any type of setback hold you down for what you want to do. Another part of that is to be mindful of how you present yourself. I am actually a very sensitive person, but that isn’t always the best way to come across, especially in business. I have perfected my poker face. I would give anyone the shirt off my back if I can, but I also know how to achieve the goals I have set by being assertive and reliable.

How do you measure success?

To me, it’s not always about money. Destiny is the measure of success. I wake up every morning and I praise God. I feel that you have to have some type of faith that you believe in. Part of the faith I have is due to the knowledge that I’ve changed somebody’s life. you know, especially the suicide rate is so high now. For me, it’s just knowing that I’ve given all I could and that I’m trying to do the best I can to give back to the community and to my family. Of course, you need money to live, but to me it is more about what the money can help you to do or how it can help someone. Don’t keep it in your pocket. It’s not doing anything for anyone there. I try my best to give what I can when I can.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

That you have to trust yourself. You aren’t going to know every outcome at the start. If you are confident in your abilities and you put in the work that is needed, you can get anywhere. When I talk to my son, I compare it to playing the lottery. You hope you win, but if you never buy a ticket, you have no chance. Just buying a ticket increases your chances. In other words, if you’re not willing to take a risk, you miss out on the chance to succeed. You have to believe in yourself and what you are working towards. You have to genuinely feel that what you are doing is the best for yourself, for your family, and your community. Believe in yourself first.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to be an entrepreneur?

No matter what field you are going into, educate yourself about the topic. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who can see and share your vision. You have to enjoy what you are doing. If you aren’t doing something that you wholeheartedly love, you won’t put your all into it. You need that 100% dedication. You have to really understand what you are doing. Do your research. Learn from others. The cornerstones of any productivity are communication and time management and reliability. My long-term goal is to see a positive impact in the communities that we have served and in underserved communities. Giving people a hand up, not a handout. Some people are very prideful, which I understand. Some people don’t want you to know what’s going on at home. And I understand all that. I don’t pass judgment. I just want to end each day knowing that I have made an impact on the world for the better.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love traveling. If I could travel 270 days a year, I would do that. I enjoy traveling and learning different things. However it can be hard with a family. I think I may also have a little addiction to shopping. With everything available online these days, I have been known to get a package every day. It’s just so easy to scroll through for what you need and hit that “add to cart” button. Mostly, though, it is traveling and I love that my son already loves it, too. We have learned about different cultures and seen so many interesting things. It really has created a lot of great memories for us.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

Believe it or not time management. My fiancé has teased me about how much self-care I do. Between massages, hair, nails, spas, etc.. I tell him I would get something done every day if I could because I need to de-stress. There is a lot on my shoulders and I want to achieve so much. While I am reliable and productive, I don’t know that I would be without scheduling this time for myself. You can’t pour from an empty vessel. So, few people really understand how important it is to set time aside just to release the tension you carry from day-to-day life. I set aside time to read my Bible each morning and I set aside time to de-stress however I can whenever I can. I think that is due to my solution-oriented mind. Everyone wants to keep the economy flowing right now, including myself. If I spent time complaining about stress, I wouldn’t get beyond the stress. Allowing this time removes the need to complain. It makes me more productive and helps me to create a proper work-life balance.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

My account with my Google Calendar. I realized just how much I use it when my phone broke a while ago. It only took a couple of hours for the screen to be repaired, but without it, I felt so lost. I just felt ‘off’ not being able to double-check my calendar during that time. It keeps me on time and informed of upcoming commitments. It’s like a lifeline for me.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My mother has always been a role model to me because she’s a very spiritual person, but also very passive. She grew up in the South when racism was more prevalent than it is today. She is a strong role model because when she speaks, it’s quiet but firm. She shows a strength that I have always admired. My uncle, who was like a second father to me and a retired military man, has also been a strong presence in my life. I also look up to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. They experienced a lot of tragedy as they were growing up, yet still found success. It really does take a village. I appreciate having these role models because they have reinforced my work ethic and taught me so much just by having a presence in my life.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Treat others as you want to be treated. It seems so simple, but it is such an important lesson to learn. I was teased a lot in high school for being so skinny. I was called names and put down. I hated it, of course, but I believe that it also helped me to grow as a person. I know at times it is easier said than done, but I truly follow this rule. Empathy and sympathy are excellent tools in business. Having the ability to see and feel what others do makes you a better entrepreneur. That insight helps to create friendships and connections. Without these, you can’t find success.


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