From Suits to Scrubs
Kathleen Ogilvy, a 33 year old lawyer, quit her job to start a home care business. Why? Because she wasn’t feeling fulfilled in her career working in lemon law and consumer products liability. Like many millennials, she sought the autonomy that comes with running a business.
“I wanted to do something that felt useful,” says Kathleen. “In considering other business opportunities, it’s hard to argue that a person needs more pizza, or doughnuts, or sugary coffee beverages, but it’s easy to rationalize people and families needing more help. Those who age or recover from injuries at home are more comfortable, physically and emotionally. And I know, as a daughter, that having your mom come home from the hospital is nerve-wracking!” She knew that home care would be the best fit.
Such feelings of wanting a career with passion and purpose is not new to the millennial generation. In fact, these feelings resonate with many millennials. Gillian B. White, senior associate editor at The Atlantic, addresses this in her article: “Millennials in Search of a Different Kind of Career.” She highlights results from an Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll that compared younger group responses to older group responses regarding their views on jobs and careers: “younger Americans were much more likely to say that their top priority was doing something that they found enjoyable or making a difference in society.”
We were inspired to tell Kathleen’s story because it is a perfect example of a millennial who was unfulfilled in her career, so she swapped her suits for scrubs to find passion and purpose in helping aging seniors stay at home.
Kathleen Ogilvy launched her Nurse Next Door home care business in Grosse Pointe, MI in 2016. Getting into home care may seem like a surprising pivot for Kathleen but she has a personal reason for the shift. In 2009, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dealing with surgeries, IV antibiotics, chemo, and helping her in and out of hospital took a toll on the entire family. In the thick of it, Kathleen was surrounded by dozens of people who were willing and able to help. This support included having friends and family deliver paper cranes to her mother between Christmas and New Year’s. In addition to Kathleen thinking about keeping her mother’s spirits up, she was on a mission to find a home care company that had the experience required to care for her mother. She was also hoping that such company would be able to relate to what her family was going through. Unfortunately, Kathleen had no such luck in finding a home care company that checked off all the boxes on her list. Kathleen believes that if she had found a company that met their care needs, the quality of her mother’s health could have improved instead of getting worse.
There was a silver lining to Kathleen’s experience. She started thinking that maybe there was an opportunity to deliver the care she had hoped her mother would receive, so she started looking into home care franchise opportunities. Nurse Next Door stood out for its 24/7 Care Services Center, positive culture, staff structure and branding. Kathleen fell in love with the brand and jumped at the chance to join the Nurse Next Door family.
There are many perks to starting your own business, and one that really stood out for Kathleen was having a flexible schedule so she could spend more time with her daughter. According to Forbes Magazine, 88% of millennials want work-life integration. Because she’s still in her first two years of business – arguably the most important time for a new venture – Kathleen has had to make sacrifices. But it’s a welcome break from the inflexible hours and long commute she used to deal with as a lawyer. She acknowledges that there are key learnings with any new business venture, and that these learnings will help her build a successful business and an incredible team – a team that will make lives better in Grosse Pointe’s community.
“The hardest thing for me right now is that I’m running this business largely on my own,” says Kathleen. On the flip side, she’s able to turn to other Franchise Partners or to the team at Heartquarters (our head office) for advice, which wouldn’t be possible if she’d started a business from scratch.
An average day for Katie starts at 5:30 am. She responds to emails and messages from caregivers before helping her young daughter get ready for daycare. By 8:30 am she’s interviewing senior caregivers and nurses, attending networking events, or visiting social workers and case managers. She also runs payroll, follows up with potential clients, and makes time for weekly coaching calls.
Being a millennial does have its perks in this business. Clients and caregivers love that Kathleen’s cell is always within reach, and she promptly answers their calls. “The daughters of my clients text me and call me anytime. They know that they can always reach me, and that’s a huge advantage,” says Kathleen. Her age hasn’t really been a problem: “For the adult children, all they want is to hear that I’ve been there. And when I tell them I’ve cared for a very sick parent, that’s what they really want to know.”
“My clients are really amazing people, and the love and protectiveness I see from their adult children is heartwarming. I love listening to clients’ stories. They’ve been to so many places and have done so many things. Some are immigrants who fled WWII Europe, some are veterans, and even a professor at a local university.”
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