National Small Business Week 2023

This week has been the National Small Business Week! It’s a time for small businesses like us and most home care agencies to celebrate being part of the huge entrepreneural opportunities out ther and to consider how active each of us are in our level of engagement with small businesses. Right now, let’s explore how we – as small business owners and team members – can encourage more engagement from others in supporting and working with our businesses.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Small Business Administration held a two-day virtual event that included several presentations on various topics affecting small businesses. While the event has past, you can still register to and watch replays of the live presentations from Monday and Tuesday.  If interested, you can register here.

However, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the topics from these sessions and offer some quick action steps you could take that relate to those topics.

Tuesday, May 2 Agenda

  • Visa Economic & Small Business Outlook – Recession: To Be or Not To Be? – Areas of the country were covered in terms of economic strength. While the information was interesting, it came across more educational than instructional. As you consider protecting your business against the effects of negative economic turns, you should consider the following:
    • Is your revenue profitable? The more profit you have in your revenue, the more you can reserve to protect against downturns.
    • Avoid leveraging debt – especially high interest rate debt. The small businesses that are holding the doors open through high credit card debt are far more vulnerable to negative impact from recessions.
  • Embrace the Connected World: How to Leverage IoT for Small Business – In terms of the home care space, what digital tools and automations are you leveraging? The sooner home care agencies are able to use scheduling software, digital onboarding, and digital billing systems, the quicker they are able to better leverage their time. The opportunity cost of not using technology to enhance your business is actually greater than what you’ll spend on technology.
  • Simple Steps to Write and Follow a Sustainable Business Plan that Ensures You Achieve Your Goals – Home care owners are incredibly compassionate individuals who set out with an initial goal of providing excellent care to people. This, however, is more of a Mission/Purpose than a goal. Without an effective business plan, however, they’ll eventually fall short of their intent in starting a home care agency.
  • Small Business Growth in the Age of AI: A Conversation of Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges and Unlock the Power of AI in Email Marketing to Sell More – These two topics are quite similar, so I’m commenting on both here.  It’s easy to either get caught up in or overwhelmed by all that can be done with A.I., however, it’s more important to analyze and prioritize your use of A.I.  Clint covered a process for helping determine effective approaches in creating content with A.I. for anything from job descriptions to web page content to emails. You can watch that 2-Minute Messaging Framework to learn more about approaches that are proving successful.
  • Getting Creative with Ads – Meta (Facebook, Instagram, etc) had quite a bit to say about this topic. Let’s hone in on a few specifics though that you can easily start doing that aren’t just digitally specific:
    • Use high-quality images – specifically try using images that are quite close to your brand. If you can use your employees and clients in images, you’ll find print and digital images far more effective in making your brand more memorable.
    • Keep captions short and sweet. Find the fewest words possible to get their attention and understand how you can help them.
    • Feature your services. In both your images and the brief text, highlight what you’re trying to capture their attention for.
    • “Don’t create. Document.” Infuse your established brand tones, client/caregiver stories, and your WHY into your ads/brochures/etc. Be sure to keep stories and testimonials from clients/caregivers somewhere you can refer back to easily to integrate into specific ads and lead generation efforts.
    • If you’re not already, you should consider using Canva for creating social media post images, flyers, and other design assets. The free level is amazing and the paid for version is incredible. 
  • Cybersecurity & Your Small Business – Home Care is becoming increasingly subjected to the HIPAA regulations, which ads another layer of security concerns to home care owners. Here are some areas to focus on to better protect your business:
    • Email – use trusted email providers. Be sure to establish a HIPAA level email account.
    • Spam/Phishing – Be sure to educate your staff to always be diligent in avoiding suspicious links or baiting. Before entering a username/password on any website, besure to verify the domain/URL. Many spam emails mimic trusted brands and even send you to websites that closely emulate that trusted brand. If the domain just before the TLD (Top Level Domain – for example: .com, .org, .us, .marketing, etc) is the true domain of the company, then you are safe. If not, you should be suspicious. Below are examples of a false domain and a true domain for Home Care Ops:
      • FALSE:
      • TRUE:
    • Use different and unique passwords for various accounts. I know this can be difficult for you to try remembering various passwords, however, should your password be discovered for one account, it won’t make all your accounts vulnerable. If you use Google, Apple, or LastPass credential saving tools, you can easily set up different passwords without having to remember them all. Just be certain to regularly change your main password for the credentials saving tool.
    • Two-Step Verification: Take advantage of using more than just one step for logging into accounts.
    • Lock Screen – Have a policy in place that whenver an employee steps away from their computer that they lock their screen, requiring them to log back in. Not only is this a great way to protect against potential employee abuses (accessing sensitive HR or accounting or payroll information), leaving a computer unlocked and unattended is a HIPAA violation.
    • Don’t skimp on hosting. Cheaper hosting solutions are often more vulnerable to being attacked with malware. Also, be sure that you secure lock your website. Get SSL certified hosting that shows up with https:// instead of http:// in the browser. This not only comes with requirements for you to keep forms and other content on the site secure to consumers, it is another layer of security for you.

Wednesday, May 3 Agenda

  • Fueling Growth: The Impact Digitizing Payments Has On Your Business and Small Business Payment Strategies to Optimize Your Payment Processes – Techonology is making it far simpler for both the clients and home care agencies to handle payments. In fact, paper invoices are becoming increasingly rare as digital statements/invoices are dominating transactions for services. Whether directly through a scheduling provider or another accounting software that can accept payments, home care owners are finding digital statments and payments convenient and more consistently ontime than paper invoices and check payment collection.
  •  Evolving Your Small Business with the Power of 5G – Many home care owners struggle to effectively track time caregivers spend traveling to and from clients as well as logging time with the clients – especially in rural/remote areas. While 5G may not be available in each market, some software can capture information live, then synch up later when the caregiver or staff member get back in range of an effective network. Some are finding the use of tablets and phones as part of their interaction with clients and caregivers not only improves communication but also significantly reduce inefficient paper documentation.
  • Future-Proofing Your Business for Long-Term Success – This segment was specific to protections often overlooked or insufficiently established for businesses. The key areas covered were:
    • Build Strong Teams – with hiring employees in general proving increasingly challenging, it’s critical to build a team that is committed to your business that are part of your success. This can be done through:
      • Setting Clear Goals and Expectations
      • Effective Communication
      • Positive Team Culture – that values trust and accountability
      • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
      • Encourage Learning and Development
      • Celebrate and Recognize Success
    • Workplace Safety – This includes proper education and safety training for employees as well as being sufficient insuranced to cover against claims. Regularly audit – meaning onsite evaluations and inspections to protect both clients and caregivers.
    • Evaluate Your Spending – Track spending, Review all expenses, Analyze spending patterns, and Prioritize expenses. Consider alternatives and cut unnecessary expenses.
    • Up-level Customer Service – Our friends at Home Care Ops are an increadible resource for suggestions on improving client satisfaction. Be sure to have a means to get feedback from clients, be quick in responding effectively, train your staff at all levels to provide optimal care and attention to clients, and express appreciation to your clients and their loved ones for choosing you. Stay on top of best practices and trends in home care to ensure you provide above-avarage solutions and care.
    • Scale and/or Diversify – while the presentation didn’t speak to this, Home Care Ops strongly encourages home care agency owners to expand services they offer or even businesses they are personally invested in.
  • The Future of Commerce: 2023 Edition and Growting Your Business and Making an Impact with E-Commerce – While you may not necessarily complete your transaction with a client through a website (like an online store), please don’t overlook the need to understand ecommerce even in the home care space. These aspects of modern commerce are applicable to home care:
    • Automated communication – emails, chatbots on websites, and text messaging can all be set to communicate with prospects and establish more consistent communcation
    • Forms – skip paper forms and establish secure digital forms to assist with inquiries for care, onboarding clients, employee applications, employee onboarding, feedback collection, etc. 
    • Increase conversions online – while a completed sale may not be your online goal, a qualified lead absolutly is. A home care agency’s version of ecommerce is getting a call or a form completed from a qualified lead for your services. This becomes far easier for you to accomplish if your website effectively communicates to their needs and sets you apart from other solutions.
      • Use content that communicates your brand approach
      • Use images that are not generic stock images, rather take time to get pictures of staff and employees that are willing
    •  Social Media Engagement – maintain a relationship with prospects and your brand through social media. This helps build authority and trust, but also encourages referrals.
    • NOTE: Don’t mistake the age your target audience as an implication that digital strategies won’t work. Most of the top 10 sources of leads generating revenue for home care comes from online marketing. Each wave of new prospective clients entering the 65+ demographic is far more tech saavy than those who before them. Using online search and viewing a webiste is now just as standard for all ages as using a phone book was for decades before the advent of Google local search.
  • Tapping Tech to Elevate Performance, Productivity, and Profitability – Presently, home care owners can track everything from online views in search results to exit interviews of clients/caregivers. It all comes down to choosing solutions in marketing, billing, scheduling, satisfaction managment, training, and various aspects of your business that elevate your ablity to track, analyze, and prioritize outcomes so you can set in motion proper steps to improve. Technology used correctly can aid home care owners:
    • Improve Operations
    • Connect Workers
    • Integrate
    • Anticipate and Respond
    • Prescribe and Adapt
  • Ushering in the Second Half of 2023: Key Insights for SMBs – This session emphasized the importance of developing people in your company and focused on:
    • Leveraging techonology
    • Improving recruiting and retention efforts – company organization and culture are critical
    •  “Culture is everything” when it comes to unifying a group of people behind a core effort
    • Employee satisfaction and client experience are intertwined
    • Striving to keep team members engaged in and invested in the company’s success
    • Connect with your people in your company – know what they’re interested in and strive to help them succeed
    • Speed, flexibility, and ability to pivot are critical for small businesses
    • If pursuing capital, the value proposition and growth rates need to be stronger
    • Stay focused. Believe in yourself. Believe in your mission. Execute your plan. (Burton M. Goldfield, President & CEO of TriNet)

Home CAre Entrepreneur Continuum

Most struggles befalling small businesses come from not knowing exactly what lies ahead. Clint and Jess established this Home Care Entrepreneur Continuum to define what they’ve identified as specific stages of growth a home care agency goes through. 

Complete the form below to download a copy to start analyzing where you are, finding what actions you should be taking now, and next steps to help your agency and you progress.

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