The country is full of seniors who are not yet chronically ill but require some sort of regular assistance and guidance. Caregivers such as a senior companion play a pivotal role in helping seniors lead an active lifestyle while enhancing the quality of their “golden years.” The elderly population is living longer than ever, which means there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to help those in this age group while earning substantial profits at the same time.
Analyze the local market and determine the type of services you’ll provide. You should be able to locate, within your target area, several retirement communities and neighborhoods with the largest population of senior citizens. Using online services, such as Melissa Data.com or the U.S. Census Bureau, will allow you to search for residents by age, location and income. The type of services you provide seniors can vary widely. These services can include stimulating conversation, walks through the neighborhood, food preparation and health care.
Get your license and insurance. Each state has different requirements for operating a senior companion business. To learn the specifics, contact your state’s health care administration. You can also learn your state’s requirements by going online to BusinessLicenses.com, which provides licenses and permits for each state and any business imaginable. In this type of business, a surety bond is required in most states. If you’re only providing companion services, the bond should be relatively inexpensive. However, if your services include in-home health care, the bond required could be as high at $500,000.
Raise capital, if needed. This can be accomplished by encouraging family, friends and co-workers to invest in your new business. Borrowing money from those you know can sometimes help keep financing costs to a minimum. Applying for a small-business loan at a bank or credit union may also provide you with needed capital. The Small Business Administration can provide additional business financing information. Most small businesses rely on lenders to provide the capital they need to either open a business or to finance capital improvements. Without loans, many small-business owners would be unable to realize their dreams of opening a business or expanding their operations.
Locate a suitable office to buy or lease. The building doesn’t need to be large, but it should provide ample space for a desk, conference room and small staff. This is where you’ll hold preliminary consultations and meet prospective clients. You may meet with the seniors you’ll be helping or their family members, so make sure you maintain a professional image. A property that fits your needs can be found with the assistance of a commercial real estate agent.
Establish your business and services within the community. This means advertising through periodicals and newspapers, creating an online presence and distributing brochures to your neighbors. To reach your target market and get the most for your money, advertise only in publications that cater to senior citizens.
Gary Smith began writing in 2006 and in 2009 published his book, “Fortune in Foreclosures.” As a California-licensed real estate broker with a mortgage industry background, Gary has served on political and legislative government affairs committees and worked as a financial adviser for ICM. Gary earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.