February 2016

Caring Self-Employment

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ernesto Dominguez is the owner of The Senior Club Professional Advanced Day Care located in Miami, Florida.  The Senior Club provides services for the elderly so they have a safe, supportive, cheerful environment where they participate in various care programs and have positive social interaction.  Despite two previous senior care facilities failing at the same location, Ernesto and his wife Lizbet opened their business in 2012 and haven’t looked back.  Knowing how difficult it was going to be starting a business, Ernesto joined the NASE and quickly put to use the benefits provided.  As the business became successful, they applied for and received an NASE Growth Grant so they could expand their business and serve more customers.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
As someone who has been in the medical field my whole life, I knew how important it was for aging seniors with diseases and disabilities to have a place for positive experiences.  Not only did I want to start a business where we could care for those in need but we wanted to ensure that we were a powerful instrument for the families taking care of our participants.  I am continually inspired by seeing the improvement in the quality of life in our participants and the gratefulness from their families.

When and why did you start your business?
As I was working as a Registered Nurse, I began seeing how important it was to properly take care of elderly people, especially those suffering with diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer or those who struggle with mobility.  As I did research, I saw that these facilities existed but I knew I could be more successful and provide better care.  We opened the doors to The Senior Club in 2012.

What challenges have you faced in your business?
There are two main challenges I face in my business. The principal challenge faced in my business is the daily control and supervision of participants with various diseases.  While it is rewarding to see the benefits of our work, it still remains a struggle to help them while supervising staff and running the daily operations of the business.  Hiring professional employees who are properly trained does alleviate most of the burden but I will always be passionate about being present and helping our seniors.  The second challenge I am facing is one of those good-and-bad type of situations.  Currently, we are at our maximum capacity and cannot admit anyone into our program until someone else leaves.  We have a waiting list of over thirty people waiting to get accepted into our facility.  While this is seen as good, it has been challenging to expand our facility so we can accommodate more people.  I was able to secure a second unit right next to my original space.  Recently, I secured the unit two doors down and am hoping to secure the two units between us in the next two years to have a total of five units all connected.  By expanding the overall size of our facility, I can then get permission to accept more participants to our care.

What's your schedule like, what's a typical day for you?
We say that our hours of operation are from 9:00am to 5:00pm but as any small business owner will tell you, that hardly accounts for our whole day.  In addition to the work we do at our location, we also provide transportation to all participants.  This means that we use our fleet of vehicles to drive to wherever our participants live, pick them up and take them to our daycare center, and then take them all home at the end of the day.  Additionally, we also provide meals and snacks throughout the day.  We keep quite busy.

Do you have any employees?
Yes, while Lizbet and I would like to take all the credit, the truth is that we are successful because we have put together a strong team that supports our mission.  We currently have six full-time and five part-time employees.  We will be looking to hire more staff once we increase our space to accommodate more participants.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
The best part about being self-employed is the freedom it provides to be the boss.  Establishing my own policies, organizing the business in my vision, and running things how I see fit is definitely my favorite part of self-employment.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
I can’t single out a single a compliment but I will say that it is a great feeling when our seniors express to us that our facility is their “home away from home.”  It is also special when the family members of the seniors express their gratitude and tell us how important our work is to their lives.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
I would say that starting a business is hard work, so hard in fact that I feel you need to be motivated and passionate about what you are doing and not just focused on potential profits. You should state your mission, identify your services, state your goals in a clear and concise manner and work hard.


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