What do you do? 

Caregivers United provides concierge in-home care for seniors in the Sarasota area.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I cared for my sick brother for two years after finishing business school, and I found a lot of fulfillment in being a caregiver. I then worked with agencies for six years, and I was consistently appalled and frankly mortified at the inadequacy of the care and the caregivers. So I decided to start a concierge home health agency with a commitment to operate with a few key differences: 

  1. I am personally involved in the hiring of every caregiver to ensure that we only hire the best. 
  2. I meet and make myself available to every client (and caregiver) via cell phone so that the quality of care is never compromised. 
  3. Every caregiver receives hands-on training with every client before ever being left alone to care for them.
  4. Our caregivers are paid more than any other comparable agency (20%-30% more on average).
  5. We have a minimum shift length we require of our clients. This ensures our caregivers are only asked to work shifts that are worth it to them. 
  6. We only take on new clients when we are confident we have top-tier caregivers to provide high-quality care with consistency. 
What's special about your business? 

We only hire the top 1% of caregivers and the quality of care we provide far exceeds any other home care agency in the area.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner? 

I was told that it would take 4-6 months and $40k to start this agency, but $100k and two and half years later, I still wasn't finished with the licensing. So, the beginning of this company was much more complex and costly than I had imagined.

But now, looking back, I can say that it has undoubtedly been worth it. We are proud to say that our team is the best of the best, and the demand for our services shows this. We have grown by over 1000% in the last 14 months and turned down clients more often than I accepted them. A big turning point was when I started meeting with my SCORE mentors (Jon & Mike). They helped me see the need to hire office staff and begin training people to do several of the roles I was doing all myself. It didn't happen overnight, but they kept encouraging me and guiding me through the process. After hiring my first office employee, everything changed. I was free to work on the business instead of in it.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner? 

My experience as a business owner has taught me a great deal over the past several years. Here are a few of the lessons I've learned:

  1. Trust, but verify.
  2. Perseverance can be a detriment if it is not paired with wise counsel.
  3. Take your most conservative estimate and double it (time frames and budget) when making projections.
  4. Never compete on price.
  5. Don't settle for satisfaction. Commit to a standard of happy raving fans for both employees and customers.
  6. Branding cannot be overestimated.
  7. Over-invest in first impressions. 
What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

I went to an accounting seminar SCORE put on, and it was there that I realized how little I knew about accounting. Then my wife actually signed up with a mentor and got a lot out of it. It was a no-brainer for me to get a SCORE mentor. 

How SCORE helped. 

I met weekly with my mentors at first. They helped me with client service agreements, bookkeeping, recommending books to read, identifying my target market, coaching around hiring and employee payment structures.

What's great about my mentor? 

These two men are absolutely incredible. I feel very supported by them both and their level of expertise and competence instills confidence in me.

Jon's marketing and networking knowledge is always insightful, and Mike's operations and high-level business experience is inspiring. I couldn't imagine a better fit for me.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

If there is any job that you believe you would be happy and satisfied working, then focus all your energy and get that job and forget about being an entrepreneur. But if there is no job you will be happy and properly satisfied with, then you may be cut out to be a business owner. If you start a business, make sure you can sustain the business without any profit for several years. This means working a job while you build the business or raising capital that pays you while you build it. Things always take longer than you think, and they always end up costing more money.