The life of a home care entrepreneur can be exciting and satisfying, but it’s certainly not easy. Especially as a new agency begins to gain traction, the entrepreneur is in for a lot of sudden course changes and rocky patches along the way. These tough times can be discouraging, but as Henry Ford once said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” While you take on this new challenge and face the strong winds that hit before you soar, here are a few tips on what to do and what not to do as your business takes flight.
1. Network in all directions
Your home care peers can be your greatest allies, so don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with them. Start by networking up. Contact experienced home care providers at conferences, through social media, or through a call or visit. Many of them will be willing to get lunch and discuss their tips for success in the industry. These providers can be great mentors as you move forward. You should also network horizontally by finding peers who are in your same boat. You can exchange success stories, and you may find that you’re able to help one another later on. And while your new agency seems to be as fresh as it gets, there’s always someone newer to whom you can offer your own help and counsel.
2. Work with people you like
This may seem obvious, but especially during the starting months of a new company when you will be working extra hours together, you’ll want a team you can really get along with. You may find some very talented and competent people who want to work with you, but if you couldn’t spend hours with them or feel comfortable calling them during a crisis, it’s best to save their resume for later. Look for a solid group you can tough it out with when things don’t go according to plan or you’re in a crunch.
3. Brand yourself
There’s a reason you decided to go into home care, and your individual reason sets you apart from the rest of the agencies in your region. Don’t be shy about distinguishing your unique characteristics and goals from the beginning. Let people know about what sets you apart from your competitors. Get a jump on marketing and avoid generic expressions by diving right into your unique mission.
4. Read everything
While you may feel like an amateur as a business owner, there is a lot of literature that can help you make decisions like a seasoned expert. Stay current and relevant by reading important works from industry and other professionals. To familiarize yourself with current industry standards and practices, start with the 2015 Private Duty Benchmarking Study, which contains the latest industry data and advice from industry leaders. From there, take a look at the many blog articles and books that relate to home care and best business practices. It’s easy to find expert tips on everything from finding referral sources to starting a user-friendly website. You can’t be a specialist in every field, so don’t hesitate to read and apply advice from those who are.
5. Expect a bit of chaos
Though chaos can be stressful, it is a relief to accept that a bit of constant chaos is not only normal but good for a growing company. As your company evolves, there is going to be a continuous feeling of change and restlessness. A bit of chaos is a sign that your company is in motion, which is generally a good thing. Accept that movement and do your part to direct it forward.
1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
With long hours and a heavy workload, you may be tempted to let yourself go or decide that you don’t have enough time to cook healthy meals or exercise. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make for your business. Takeout or pizza often sound appealing, but they will ultimately leave you drained. Your health and well-being are your biggest resources as you work. Exercise and a healthy diet not only keep you functioning, but they also provide you with the energy and concentration that you need to succeed.
2. Don’t do it all yourself
It’s tempting to put all the weight of decision-making on your own shoulders, but this will become too heavy and you’ll start dropping things. A better method is to hire people that you trust and allow them to do their work. You should handle the big picture of your company while your team to takes care of the details, like scheduling or pay roll.
3. Don’t get distracted
Though side projects may be tempting right now as you explore new business possibilities, it’s best to save those for when your agency is more grounded. Now is the time to focus in on what’s really important to you and ensure that you’re doing that with excellence. Once your roots are set, you can once again start looking into how to expand your reach.
4. Don’t turn down advice
While you should generally stick to your gut, you should never be above learning from others and listening to their advice. There are many people in the industry who have great pieces of wisdom and experience that they’re willing to share with you. You may not apply everything that they say, but don’t let pride keep you from listening with an open mind. And as you work on growing your business, seek out data on your progress that will help you improve. The Satisfaction Management Program at Home Care Pulse, allows you to receive monthly data reports, feedback, and advice that’s specific to your agency and will help you adjust your services to your clients’ and employees’ needs.
5. Don’t disconnect yourself from your clients
You probably have a mile-long to-do list, but don’t let that take precedent over your connection with your clients. Chat with them on social media. Visit them in their homes. And set aside a time to do this on a daily or weekly basis. You’ll become more acquainted with your clients’ needs, and they’ll have a face and personality to match with the company.
Whether you’ve been in business for a week, a month, or many years, it’s never too early or too late to start honing in on your craft and learning new ways to move forward. As you apply these tips and take each day by turn, you’ll soon find that you’re a tested veteran with your own wisdom to share with those who come next.