Shirley Crawford

by Terry Watson | September 19th, 2019
Shirley Crawford

Shirley Crawford

Due to the fact that she wears so many hats, it can be quite challenging to describe Shirley “Shirl-E” Crawford with only a few words. Her constant devotion to her family and community speaks volumes of how she has impacted the lives of so many individuals. Still, there is more work that has to be done, and she appears ready to answer the call.

“I’m a passionate force for good that was placed on earth to teach, share, and repeat,” she states.

Shirley is the Executive Director and cofounder of the Women’s Business Center RVA (WBCRVA) in Richmond, Va. and the owner of 2nd Chance Consulting, a small business consulting group that stresses the importance of first impressions with its clients. She also manages HEARTT (Helping Educate and Revitalize Through Technology), and is the founder of a Haitian nonprofit.

She is a small business whisperer, a great aunt, daughter, sister, ordained minister, entrepreneur, teacher, speaker, author, business consultant, missionary, side hustler, and dreamer. In her own words, Shirley describes herself as a “WorkHARDAholic™”.

The Women’s Business Center RVA helps women entrepreneurs to start, sustain and succeed in business by providing support, small business consulting, seminars, advisors, below market office space, co-working, mailbox rentals, meeting space, and simply a helping hand.

The focus of 2nd Chance Consulting is to provide entrepreneurs an external eye to their business by offering the necessary tools and resources to move from idea to culmination, from sustainability to supremacy in the arenas of their product or service. This is accomplished by providing her clients assistance with starting a business, marketing, team management and development, assessments, coaching, and more.

Shirley says, HEARTT provides assistance to Haiti, which she describes as a country where the effects of the digital divide are blatantly evident. “HEARTT empowers individuals to be self supporting by teaching computer skills such as typing and Microsoft Office. CollabHERation empowers all women by bringing together resources and tools to provide mentorship, accountability and implementation tools,” she says.

“Some of my favorite seminar and speaking topics include Networking for Introverts, Introduction to Social Media to Put Up or Shut Up, Moving your Dreams to Reality, and How to Start Your Nonprofit Organization,” she says. She also has a thriving interest for entrepreneurial and motivational subject matters and has recently started the weekly WorkHARDAholic™ vlog as a home for individuals who are just as busy as she.

If the roots of Shirley’s existence are examined, it may become very clear of where she gets the drive to serve. “I come from an entrepreneurial family where you earned a paycheck, not an allowance. My mother and my father had a small construction business and I was raised to believe that the American dream was to own a house, car, dog, a couple of adopted kids, and your own business. When I went to college I learned that for others, the dream was to go work for Corporate America. At that point I began my mission to educate people that you should at least have a side hustle,” she shares.

Shirley’s recommendation of a side hustle is clear. “Corporate paychecks and pensions are not guaranteed. If you were fired tomorrow could you survive a week? Everyone should have a side hustle that is able to help you to get by or at the very least maintain for a year,” she says.

Shirley credits her mother and father for having the biggest impact on her life. She also finds inspiration from others. “My mother had six children. She also only had an eighth grade education but was amazing with the financial side of business. In addition to being one of my church’s first missionaries, she is an author, song writer and entrepreneur. She went through a lot so whenever I dare to think that I can’t, I reflect on her and shut my mouth, and I then get to work.”

Shirley remains attached to her calling and to those who she serves. “I keep a box of tissues in my office for the tears that fall in there. My office is a safe place where others know there is someone who cares about them. I will tell them the truth and allow them to talk about their highs and lows, failures and successes, and their dreams and aspirations. Most importantly, I let people know that I’m attached to them, and not their business. So if their “baby” is ugly (as it’s a phrase that I often use as people think of their businesses as their baby being a living, breathing being that is birthed out of themselves) I will let them know and help them to figure out what should be done about it,” she says.

Shirley states that she wouldn’t change a thing about the course of her life. “All things work together for my good and that includes the bad stuff. The only job that I was ever fired from made me a better manager. My sister’s murder made my family closer and brought me back to Richmond. Every job gave me skill sets that I get to use every day and I’m able to consult with people from diverse backgrounds such as authors, film producers, accountants and CEO’s. It all brought me here and I fear that if I changed even one iota, I wouldn’t be living this blessed, amazing life right now,” she says.

In the future, Shirley plans to continue growing the Women’s Business Center and have global locations in place to empower women around the world. She is also working on having a consistent social life and hopes to spend as much time on the beach and traveling as possible. “I just plan to be happy and stay happy,” she says.

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