With an aging population, there are more people than ever who require care in an assisted living facility or nursing home. But it can be challenging at times to qualify for this care. To help clients overcome some of these hurdles, Catherine Long took the initiative to start her own small business.
A client of 1-800Accountant, Long proudly oversees Catherine Lee Long & Associates, LLC in Sacramento, California. The home-based business was formally established in January 2014. While Long does not have typical employees, she has associates whom she works with as independent contractors.
“I’m a senior life advocate,” Long says. “I assist families, friends of individuals, or couples to obtain Long Term Medi-Cal, which helps subsidize the cost of care in a skilled nursing facility. We determine the financial qualifications for all of our clients and handle the paperwork thru approval.”
In addition to helping get certain individuals into facilities, Long pays close attention to the financial situation of each client she assists.
“We look at the whole picture to make sure our clients have their assets in order; we want to ensure that their spouses will not face impoverishment,” she says. “We work with estate attorneys, financial planners, senior care advisors, and skilled nursing facilities.”
Long’s small business specializes in Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program in California for those who have limited finances and assets that is designed to cover long term care.
She says it was a personal experience caring for her husband and her 25 years working in this industry that led her to start her business.
“I’m fortunate because I’m doing what I love and know, and love what I do, so it’s really not work!” she says. “It also benefits others in need, so it can be rewarding in that sense.”
In her eyes, Long believes her background is what has ultimately made her startup company a success early on.
“I’ve worked in this field for so long and know the ins and outs of it,” she explains. “I’m a person who doesn’t like to touch paper more than I have to. I’ve got it down to a science where I know exactly which forms need to be done for my clients. Plus, the people I’m working with now are those I have worked with in the past, and those connections help a lot. I say what I do and do what I say, and I feel honesty is so important in the small business world.”
The average age of her clients is about 67, and most of them tend to be on the older side. However, she says a good amount of individuals younger than this come to her for help as well.
“There are people who suffer from health conditions because of life style choices, so I deal with a younger population as well.”
Long explains how competition fits into the field in which she works – and how she’s managed to persevere through it by the way she does business.
“There are definitely others who do this type of work. But I tend to get more referrals from people who’ve gone to other companies and haven’t had a good experience. There is such a need that I don’t see where the field is oversaturated by any means. With other companies, everything is done by mail so often. With mine, I can offer a more personalized experience to meet the specific needs of each client.”
Thanks to her large professional network of contacts, Long feels fortunate that she has not had to do much traditional advertising to spread the word about her startup company. But she notes that marketing can be fun, and she hopes to have a little more time in the future to work on it.
Handling Unique Challenges As A Business Owner
When starting a business, there are lots of challenges that all new small business owners will inevitably face along the way. Long admits she’s been no exception to this general rule.
“It’s the bureaucracy and paperwork that have been my biggest challenge,” she says. “There is a lot you have to do when you have an LLC. The actual business takes care of itself, but the company doesn’t. That is where the real challenge lies – managing the company and meeting all the rules and regulations.”
Long gives some insightful advice to entrepreneurs based on her own experience of starting a business.
“Do what you know and love,” she says. “I always wanted to get into the greeting card business. But there is so much involved in this type of work that I don’t know, and it is not worth the learning curve for me at this point in my career. I wanted to hit the ground running, so I’m doing what I have enjoyed doing for many years.”
She points out that there are both pros and cons to being your own boss – and why the lifestyle simply isn’t for everyone.
“Today’s job market is not what it used to be anymore. You can’t expect to work for and retire from the same company. Having your own business allows for greater latitude and some illusion of control. However, you have to be very ambitious and motivated to get up every day and work on your own. Some people just can’t do this if there is no structure in their lives like a 9-to-5 job may provide.”
While Long says she is certainly not new to the financial world, she says 1-800Accountant has been very helpful in taking care of her business accounting and financial needs. She would also recommend the firm to others seeking affordable accounting assistance.
Photo credit: The photograph of Catherine Long was provided by Catherine Lee Long & Associates, LLC and is used with permission.