Starting your own eldercare business can be easy and quick, or it can be a slow and difficult process. Why suffer? Follow these 9 steps to make your eldercare business startup easy, painless and speedy.
Step 1. Choose services to offer.
Making a list of the services you plan to offer is an essential first step, so you need to think about what may be needed and what is in demand in your area. Some folks specialize in respite care, others enjoy housekeeping, and others love to run errands. Ask other senior care providers what services are most needed in your town. When you’re done, make up a list that can be a part of your flyer or brochure, or an advertisement on Craigslist or on a website. It’s a good idea to add this at the end of the list: “If you don’t see a service you need – just call and ask if we offer it.” This allows you to make sure you are meeting the needs of all your prospective clients, as you’re bound to miss a few in-demand services when you make up that list.
Step 2. Name your eldercare business.
Now you’re ready to name your eldercare business. Think of something catchy and memorable. Examples include: “Senior Helpers,” “Loving Caregivers,” and “Eldercare Angels.” Consider adding the name of your town, or even your own name, in the business name. Check with your state to make sure no one else is using your name, and that it hasn’t been registered or trademarked already.
Step 3. Don’t spend money!
Resist the urge to spend money when you’re starting your business. Ask yourself “Do I really need this?” before you buy anything. If you have a reliable vehicle and a cellphone, you’ve already got the essentials you need. Keep your office at home to avoid spending money on rent, utilities and other costs for a separate office. Think and act like a miser until your business income is steady and solid.
Step 4. Legal structure.
When you start an eldercare business, it’s important to pick the right legal structure for the new business. Most eldercare businesses operate as a sole proprietor or as an L.L. C. You’ll find lots of free advice about the picking the right option for you at Nolo.com. Whatever you decide, get this pinned down first, before you apply for a business license, or get a federal tax number.
Step 5. Insurance.
The right coverage is essential for protection in case of a lawsuit or claim. Talk to a local independent insurance agent to find out what is required in your state.
Step 6. Set your rates.
Many new eldercare business providers make the mistake of not charging enough to cover all their costs, as they haven’t been in business long enough to be aware of all the little costs, like licenses, bookkeeping fees, social security taxes, vehicle maintenance or insurance, all of which can add up over time. A good rule of thumb is to add about 30-35% to the wages you’ll be paying yourself, to arrive at a reasonable rate that allows you a profit and still makes your clients happy.
Step 7. Finding customers.
After you’ve set up your eldercare business and listed the services you plan to offer, start looking for customers. You’ll only need a few, and with the huge demand for capable caregivers, you can usually pick and choose your clients. Local senior service providers are often a good source of referrals. You can run a free ad on Craigslist, or sign up at one of the online marketplaces such as Care.com
Step 7. Referrals.
Once you have your first few clients and have treated them well for a while, ask them for referrals. Tell them you’re still growing your business, and could use a few more good clients like them. Offer a reward, like a free shopping trip, in return for a recommendation that becomes a regular client.
Step 8. Provide exceptional service.
If you take care of your senior clients, they will tell others and you’ll never have to advertise again. It’s true! Always try to practice the Golden Rule and treat your clients they way you would want to be cared for if you were in their shoes.
Step 9. Stay organized and save money.
There are several online programs that help you keep up with your business bookkeeping and your job schedule. My favorite, which makes keeping track of your small business finances easy, even if you can’t add or subtract, is Outright.com, now part of GoDaddy. The cost is way below what you would pay a bookkeeper, or around $12 a month, and it has a built-in scheduling feature that can track your work hours and prepare an invoice for a client. . It even reminds you when taxes are due, or when you miss a deduction, like the 55 cents a mile for business mileage that I often forget!
Follow these 9 simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to owning your own eldercare business. To discover more about this business, read: How To Start a Senior Home Care Business.