Women Who Jumped: Risk-Taking Entrepreneurs Fill Niches

Beyond home health care and adaptive equipment, there are a host of personal needs that Minnesotans with disabilities — not to mention seniors — must have met in order to live and work independently. Meeting needs like running errands, household planning, meal preparation and even companionship calls for energy, compassion and organization.

Many entrepreneurial women right here in the Twin Cities are proving that they have what it takes to provide these services. Despite overwhelming concepts such as liability insurance and business planning, they have forged ahead and created companies with a mission to serve this demographic. I almost succumbed to these obstacles myself when I created Housecalls Network; but, with a spirited attitude, I focused on the enormous need for independent living resources and jumped in!

Others have taken the same leap. Kristin Kopp started At Home Solutions, LLC, because she saw, first-hand, the pressure and frustration that seniors and their primary caregivers experienced. She saw their high level of aggravation, loneliness and confusion due to weak support systems and lack of awareness of the resources available to support them. After witnessing her clients’ living conditions that were impeding their safety (tattered flooring, broken window panes, poor lighting and cluttered rooms), she focused her plan on alleviating family stressors by offering additional caregiver assistance, home safety assessments and a vast database from which to draw additional support and resource ideas. Kopp describes her satisfaction by saying, “Working one-on-one with [my clients] over a length of time not only decreased the stress level for both themselves and their primary caregivers, but also allowed [them] the chance to live in a cleaner, safer, more secure home that they were proud of.”

Joyce McIntosh also jumped into entrepreneurship. During her more than 15 years of experience in providing community service, she amassed a wealth of experience as an intake coordinator for one of the largest adult day programs in Minnesota, a director for both a day program and transportation services, and a developer of start-up operations for a Medicare home care agency. Add in her B.A. in sociology and gerontology from the University of Minnesota, and she was well equipped to co-found Health Esteem Services, which provides physical therapy, personal, nursing and concierge services.

Cherie Lee Schmidt went the franchising route. Home Instead Senior Care, like Visiting Angels and Comfort Keepers, offers companionship, home helper, personal care and overnight services to her franchise in the central and western suburbs of Minneapolis. As a community service representative, she takes special care in matchmaking her clients with the appropriate caregivers.

Adina Goldstein’s story is unique in that she knows her client’s challenges first-hand. Not only did she create Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff to provide concierge services to homebound individuals, but she herself is living with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Despite vision and cooling issues, Adina is a woman on the go, with a mission that, ironically, aligns perfectly with the MS Society’s “Join the Movement” campaign.

It is no coincidence that these entrepreneurs in the caregiving industry are women. The typical informal caregiver is a married woman in her mid-forties to mid-fifties. She is employed full time and also spends an average of 20 hours-per-week on caregiving duties (Family Caregiver Alliance).

With 76 million baby boomers in our society today and considering that a full 45% of working baby boomers intend to work past the traditional retirement age of 65, this generation will be looking for services to support them in nontraditional working roles (AARP). If you’re looking for the services that these women provide, consider your options, remember their stories and give them a call.