The Success Story of the Owner of a Synergy HomeCare Franchise by Saili Gosula

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My name is Saili, and I am the owner of a Synergy HomeCare franchise.  My business is now 6 years old, and I’ve gotten to the point that I feel that I am running a real company, and that I can delegate and provide a living for a lot of people.  It’s like a real company now!  I even took 3 weeks away for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  I did work some, for sure, but I was able to go to another country, spend time with family & friends, watch a bunch of soccer games, read 4 books, and get a tan.

I want to start at the very beginning – going back 50 years ago to a couple of different continents.  My parents are Indian, and I grew up in Brazil.

In Brazil at the time I was in high school opportunities for college were very limited, so they had a strict process for kids identifying their interest and then applying to college in that specific field. Admittance was based on a large test of all the subjects you ever learned in school, weighted based on the field you chose to study.

The problem is we were 16 years old when we had to choose what we would do for college, and changing majors was not permitted. You had to start over and get re-tested if you did that!  So being a math wiz from a math family, I decided I would study computer science.  I had never seen a computer in my life, but I’m a bit competitive. That was the most sought after field, with 30 slots for the entire state, and I was going to try for that.  I got in, started college in Brazil, but then ended up coming to the US. I moved straight from Brazil to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I went for college.  I ended up with a double major in math and computer science, and a masters in computer science.

I got a job right out of school and worked in several companies over the next 20 years in several IT roles.  I started out as a programmer, analyst, then consultant, and then project manager.  I even did a 2-year gig in HR at one company because it had grown so fast under me, and the people trusted me with their problems.  I learned a lot in those 2 years in HR.  As a matter of fact, all of those different jobs I had over the years prepared me for what I do today.

In my last job in corporate America, I was director of inventory systems for Gap, Inc.  If my systems did not work, no clothes went to any of the Old Navy, Gap or BR stores worldwide.  It was a good job, with lots of recognition and visibility, but the product that I delivered was not exciting to me. The most important thing I did was getting jeans to the store on time.  As the years went on I kept thinking that what I was doing wasn’t really a good fit with the person I was becoming over time.

In the meantime, I started doing lots of work with non-profits, community organizations, and school PTAs – and I loved that stuff!  I was coaching soccer, a volunteer webmaster for a theater company, on the board of the theater company, and eventually president of the board of the theater company, creating yearbooks and playbills, and spending way too much time volunteering on top of my demanding job.  Even within Gap I used to lead all the volunteer events for our very large IT department, and planned all our social events.  I never stayed within my box.  The thing is that I loved being part of the community, and I would stay up all night because I believed in what I was doing.  I knew I had to do something different, but it is very difficult to leave a good paying job with lots of prestige, 6 weeks of vacation, and all kinds of benefits that large corporations provide.

And then I got laid off.  I was scared but also so excited!  This was the defining moment when I was free to reinvent myself.  I actually had been hoping for this opportunity because I knew I’d get a nice severance package that would buy me time to figure out what to do next. This was my chance.

I pretty much knew that I wanted to own my own business.  I felt that everything I’d done up to that point – the computer skills, the HR, the management, the team-building, the event-planning, the yearbook and playbill editing, the budgeting and project management, and the board experience at the theater company – it gave me enough of a well-rounded skillset that I could run a company.  But what was I going to do?  I couldn’t come up with an idea.  I knew I wanted to use my one greatest strength – my people skills.  That was the # 1 requirement.

So I ended up going to a franchise broker.  They reviewed my priorities, which were: community, seeing the impact firsthand, creating jobs, managing people, and finding something I could be passionate about.  They brought me a few ideas, and through a 60-day process I ended up buying into a Home Care franchise.

I am going to explain briefly what we do because I am not here to sell, but it helps to understand how this was such a good fit with what I was looking for:

I own Synergy HomeCare, which is a provider of 1-1 caregivers.  We provide caregivers that go into people’s homes and help them with the little things they can’t do for themselves, or that are difficult for them to do for themselves. The bulk of our clients are seniors, but we do serve people of all ages, including children. For our seniors, we help them with personal care such as bathing, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation, errands, and going to the grocery store.  We do short, occasional visits, which we call respite, or we can be there 24×7, or anything in between.

So 6 years ago I decided to do something that I’d never done before, something I had no formal training in, and that my college education definitely did not teach me how to do.  The franchisor did provide training, but then you’re on your own to get your own clients and caregivers.

People used to tell me that I had a lot of guts to make such a change.  At the time I must have had this puzzled look on my face because I didn’t understand that.  To me, it was a matter of survival.  I couldn’t go on giving so much of myself to something I didn’t believe in.  I needed to feed my soul.

But it was really hard in the beginning!  Being a people person in IT, I was popular.  Mine was the office that people walked into all the time to talk to someone, or ask work questions. My phone was always ringing, and my email was always full.  Then I started the business, and I was in this tiny little office by myself.  Nobody stopped by, nobody called, and I questioned my decision. I felt a little scared . . . and lonely.

What I did to compensate for this was that I started networking.  I joined a networking group, and I have been with that group for almost five years now. It was a community of business owners, and I could trust the people in that group to actually provide services for me as well. I then felt that I wasn’t as alone.  And I loved to find reasons to refer business to other people in that group.

After that I tried a few other groups. Now I am also very active in the Chamber of Commerce for our city, and that is another wonderful group. I always look forward to talking with these people. I go to business mixers and chat with both people I know as well as connecting with new people, and now I am no longer lonely at all.

To be truthful, I’m a crazy networker.  It really helps!  It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it grows your business, and you learn who you should partner with. And the more you go the easier it gets. Everybody is there for the same reason – to expand their network.

The other thing that was hard in the beginning was doing everything myself.  It was exhausting!  I was on call 24×7, and my mind was spinning from all the different things I was responsible for.  I started paying people right away to do things for me.  I was fortunate that my circle of friends included competent people excited to help me start my business. I paid them, but not what they were worth. I also started paying my high-school-aged son to work in our office.

Eventually I hired full-time staff.  I almost always hired the next person before I could afford them – I just knew that I couldn’t grow without them. And none of my office hires came to me in a traditional way, by applying for a posted job position. I would meet someone that was available and just know that this person would be a good fit for my team. I couldn’t afford not to have them! This enabled growth.

My staff is top notch. I can be out of the office all day and know that the company runs smoothly without me.  Oh, and gradually I’ve worked myself into a place where I am never on call anymore, though I am always the escalation point.

I now have five full time office staff that help run my operation. I always have a couple of part-time people that are available to help when needed.

Now we have about 60 caregivers working for us, another 100 that we consider active and available, and another 400 that have worked for us occasionally in the past who we could possibly call on again. In our 6 years in business we have served over 600 clients.

Advice

Find out what your strengths are, and find a career that uses those strengths. It will feel much more natural, and you will be better able to sustain your effort in it.  Me, I am a people person to the extreme, so I chose a profession that would have me always talking to people, connecting with people, understanding people and having them entrust me with their most prized assets – their parents. I can connect with all the different people that all different levels, and that makes me very successful in this field. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Saili Gosula is the owner and Executive Director of Synergy.  She had a successful career in IT until 2009.  Always an avid volunteer in the schools and local non-profits, focusing on people and the community eventually became more important to her.  She made a career switch.  She is passionate about her new career in home care.  She differentiates herself by her tirelessly giving and positive approach.  This has quickly helped her to grow her business and provided her with many loyal fans and followers, across clients, associates, and employees.
Saili@SHCSanMateo.com
www.synergyhomecare.com/SanMateo

 

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Never give up! by Inna Rosputnia

SS 2016 KW Inna Rosputnia pic2

Inna Rosputnia was born and growing up in Ukraine at a time when it was a battleground between communism and democracy. A personal experience of this conflict, including poverty, struggling and intolerance — as well as a personal fascination with philosophy shaped Inna’s thinking in later years and influenced her successful strategies in both finance and philanthropy.

Inna graduated from 2 Universities and have Master Degree in Economy and International Relations. She began her career in finance field in 2007. In 2008 Inna became a Head of Financial Risk Insurance Department at Alfa Insurance IC (Ukraine) that is a part of Alfa Group Consortium – one of Russia’s largest privately owned investment groups, with interests in oil and gas, commercial and investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, telecommunications, water utilities and special situation investments. Inna began trading futures, commodities, and stocks in 2009. She is working with individuals and families as well as institutions and corporate clients. Inna also makes investments in commercial real estate in different countries. Her real estate portfolio includes office centers and hotels.

Inna has been active as a philanthropist since 2013, when she began providing funds to help women in Africa to attend Universities and start own business. In 2016 Inna joined Cherie Blair Foundation for women, where she is working to promote gender equity, the values of open society, human rights, transparency and empower women.

Inna is the author of a book “Basic Instinct of Woman-Trader”, published in Russian and English languages in 2016. Her articles and essays on markets, financial planning, politics, society, and economics regularly appear in newspapers and magazines, like The Business Woman Media, Financial Magnates and other.

Here is the link for online sale of the Russian version:  https://www.amazon.com/x41E-x441-x43D-x43E-Russian-ebook/dp/B01I1PCR3S#nav-subnav

The English version will be available in late September 2016. You can pre-order the book on her website:  http://ladyf-trader.com/my-book/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Inna Rosputnia – A futures trader and wealth manager, working with individual and institutional clients; founder and CEO of Lady F Wealth Management. I graduated from two universities and has a Master degree in Economy and International Relations.

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Finding Women in the Information Systems Environment by Beata Green

Beata GREENThere is a marked gap between the number of male and female students enrolled in computer science in schools. That means very few women are entering into a computing career. Moreover, this is a concern, because the lack of women in information systems careers can actually slow down the economy. Not only that, but the risk trickles down to companies who are missing out on the more diverse teams that studies say will make their businesses more successful.

There are a host of benefits to acquiring female talent, one being better returns. Women, when placed in general leadership positions can offer far higher returns to shareholders and investors.

The fact that there are fewer women in information systems means that they can be very difficult to find, let alone attract for a business. However, there are ways to locate the talented female coders you seek.

Explore Different Networks
Do you currently know any female developers? If you don’t, chances are you won’t be able to use your existing networking channels to find them. Instead, try and connect with individuals from other networks, and explore your opportunities there.

Support and Encourage Existing Female Talent
Are there women who are already working for your organisation that would be a good fit in the developer role? Identify the strengths and qualities you want in a female developer, and then set about finding and interviewing them. Ensuring that potential female developers feel supported and encouraged will help them to feel more comfortable with new challenges.

But the challenge lies not only in finding women to work for your company; it will also require a change to the way your existing company culture is structured. It also requires you to effect a change in how women developers are perceived by those who already work for your company.

Change Your Company Culture
If you are currently working with teams of male coders but want to harness female talent, a culture change will likely be necessary. Many business owners believe that new female team members will simply adapt to the existing company culture. However, this won’t be beneficial to the new team member or to your business. To make any team member feel welcome, you must understand how they communicate, and then learn how to communicate in their language. That includes new female team members.

A Non-Competitive Environment
A non-competitive culture can provide far more benefits to your company than a competitive one. When everyone is on the same playing field, individual talent can be utilised far more efficiently. This kind of environment places importance and value on all team members, and can present a much more welcoming place for coders of all genders to work.

Don’t Change the Focus for Female Interviewees
Believe it or not, talking about the work-life balance your company offers will not impress female interviewees. A woman engineer, coder or developer will be interested in the challenges they will be solving at your company, just as male interviewees would. If you have a set of especially difficult challenges that you are dealing with, put the spotlight on these at the interview.

Some studies suggest that even simply removing any gendered pronouns from employee communication before handing it to your team can be enough. When management shows no gender bias, it can set an example for employees. Although this may seem like a simple solution, it can go a long way to communicating to existing and potential employees that you are interested in talent, regardless of the gender from which it may originate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beata Green is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.

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Shirley Wiefling, an Inspirational Early Women Entrepreneur!!

 “I’m particularly thrilled to see Shirley’s story here because . . . she’s my inspiration, my closest friend, and  . . . I’m very fortunate to say that I’m her daughter.  I’m so proud of you, Mom!” – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management and Scrappy Women in Business

Mother by Day, Entrepreneur by Night: Shirley Wiefling Shares Her Inspirational Experience as a Woman at the Forefront of Business.

Continue reading

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Wanted: The Job That Doesn’t Feel Like a Job by Irene Waltz

Irene Waltz

Ever since I started in the working world, I’ve had this notion of finding my “dream job”. Even before there was any talk of work-life-balance, I was dreaming of a job that I would love so much that I would never care if it was work or free time.

Most people back then called me crazy and said that job didn’t exist if I weren’t an artist, which I am most definitely not.

Some are lucky enough to know early on what they want to do. Not me. There was so much I wanted to try, I never thought I could focus on just one thing. When I went to college, I studied languages, business & cultural studies. There was no clear career path to follow, so I had to find my own way.

Over the years, I have tried lots of things, employed on my own: managed a language school, built the Berlin office of a Swedish internet startup, taught Russian immigrants computer skills, worked as a business and financial translator, built websites with WordPress, did sales cold-calling and managed large marketing projects.

In the end, I found that I’d have to invent the job that would fit me.

Over the years, I have picked up a lot of sales and marketing skills, and that is what I’m selling today. I’m a hand-on marketer and marketing coach helping entrepreneurs win clients in new markets, especially in Germany, of course. My aim is to get things up and running and to help my clients become better marketers themselves.

I also speak about marketing, and managing workshops and seminars.

To be honest, I don’t care too much about the latest fads in marketing techniques (although I do want to know how they work). Rather, I’m interested in helping cool people who love what they do enjoy their business even more by working for clients that really get them.

To be taken with care: Advice from others

When my second son was born five years ago, my last employment had just ended. Frustrated up with the restrictions of the corporate world. I set out on my own again, this time in the marketing field. I’d been a freelance translator for a few years before that last corporate gig. This time I wanted to do it right. Build a “real” business.

I read tons of books, every scrap of advice out there on building a business. You know what: I ended up more confused than before. One book said I needed to build systems, and I spent weeks with long lists of things that I never used. Another said I had to decide if I just wanted to build a job for myself or be a “real” entrepreneur. It took me half a year to get passed this.

I always thought: If I can only define my vision and my mission, then everything will be fine, kind of build itself.

But you know what? All this heady stuff just kept me spinning my wheels, looking for answers. For years, I felt bad because I couldn’t come up with a grand, dent-in-the-universe vision like curing malaria or something like that. Yes, I have an idea about my values and what I’d like to do for people and for my family, but a huge vision? Sorry, I don’t have one.

Sometimes, the answer is right in front of you.

I was so focused on this whole passion-doing-what-you-love thing that I completely overlooked one thing: There had been someone right in front of me all this time, doing what he loved, and being very content with it.

He was a college professor for English, a man who grew up in postwar Germany. Coming from a humble family of butchers, he put himself through college with little money and lots of willpower. A very quiet man, not one of those big-shot professors with great acclaim in the academic world. He was not a rich man, but there was enough for his family, his wife and four kids, enough to support his old mother.

Sometimes you’d hear him talking in his study, proclaiming Chaucer’s Canterbury tales aloud with a funny accent. When he passed away, the little church was packed, and there were piles of cards from former students expressing their gratitude. He wasn’t famous, but for the people who knew him, he made a big difference.

That man, of course, was my father.

So I am blessed to have lived with someone who encouraged me to do what I enjoyed, to follow what made me happy; and who led by example. Only now do I realize, it’s not always the grand and loud things that are important or meaningful, but passion can be quiet as well, focused on the little details.

Doing what makes you happy

About a year ago, I found a kind of diary I must have written when I was 17 or so. It said: “I’ll just write. Writing is what makes me happy.” I had completely forgotten about this. Here I was, over 20 years later, and all the writing I did was marketing texts for other people. And a marketing blog that bored me because I filled it with stuff I thought people wanted to hear.

So I set up a fresh blog and started writing. In English, a language I had missed. (I’m German, and my business had been mostly in German lately.) It was much easier than my marketing blog. The texts just started to flow. I don’t think about pleasing anyone with it. I just write. Little observations on life and happiness. I don’t even know if anyone reads it, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s called Irene’s Notes, if you want to take a look.

And there’s another project: Last summer, I discovered the sport of triathlon. I was so enthused that I contacted a small brand of triathlon clothing just for women. And ended up writing their German blog, which is extremely fun.

The thing is, I’m not earning any money to speak of with these activities, but just doing it makes me so happy that my business life is also affected. And from the triathlon blog, I’ve attracted people to my marketing pages, as well.

As for my marketing blog, I started one in English, too at www.irenesmarketing.com. And I started writing about things I care about. I don’t follow all the “how-to-write-great-blogposts” advice, rather, I’m finding my own style. It’s much more fun than ever before!

Trusting myself

When I turned forty last summer, I decided I would not pretend any more to be someone I was not. My company is called “Die Marketinghelfer” or “The Marketinghelpers”. Only, it’s always been just me, and it felt like I was hiding behind the name. So I’m in the process of changing it, putting myself more on the line.

Also, I made a vow never again go against my instincts or do things just because I thought someone wanted me to do them that way. Sometimes, I have to take a closer look and see if it’s just fear holding me back. Often enough, though, my gut is right, even if I can’t explain it rationally.

There is some advice I really did learn from all the business courses: Just think in little projects. Try different things. See what works. See where it gets you and go from there. Without thinking this has to be THE ONE THING.

So really, I’m back to doing what I used to do: Enjoying the adventures of life and business day by day and being open to the opportunities that arise. Who knows where this journey may lead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Irene Waltz is a hand-on marketing & sales woman, writer, speaker, business translator, a mother of two boys, and probably Germany’s slowest triathlete. Based in Berlin, Germany, Irene helps knowledge-based businesses get clients in new markets, especially in Germany. Follow Irene on Twitter or check out her blog at http://www.irenesmarketing.com

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