You might think running a home care agency would be a big city opportunity. When you have access to a large population and plenty of resources, it might seem like a no-brainer for business. However, living in a small northern community is nothing short of amazing for business owner Suzanne Tighe.

Originally from a large city, Suzanne moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario (population 110,984) and started a Nurse Next Door franchise. Suzanne says being community-minded is her biggest piece of advice for people thinking about opening a home health care business outside the big city. “Genuinely care. Show support for issues that matter in your town, and build trust.”

Suzanne employs over 40 people, making her business a boon for the local economy. Her franchise sets itself apart by giving clients the Nurse Next Door “chocolate on the pillow” touch. She explains that a smaller population presents challenges with drawing new contracts and maintaining her staff. Yet knowing that her community has her back gets her through any tough times.

Participating in local issues and addressing challenges shows you’re invested. Suzanne’s franchise buys from local suppliers and contracts local services to emphasize Nurse Next Door’s role as a community stakeholder. “Starting a new business isn’t easy. And living in a small community is all about building good relationships,” says Suzanne.

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Away from the rat race, owning home care agency doesn’t have to be a grind

How many big-city business owners see deer, fox, owls and bald eagles on their morning commute? Suzanne says in a rural setting, you have a unique perspective; plus, work-life balance is easier.

With fresh air and hardly any traffic, small-town business owners can get away from workplace stress by simply stepping outside. Geographic isolation presents challenges, but it also means respite from high stress levels.

“I’m fortunate to live on Lake Superior,” says Suzanne. “It’s here that I find my serenity and truly unplug. Thunder Bay provides that natural setting to step away from technology and the challenges of running a 24-hour home care business.”

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See how your home care business impacts the community

For Suzanne, owning and managing a Nurse Next Door franchise in Thunder Bay means she gets to see firsthand how her business is Making Lives Better. “Word of mouth is our business here, and we’re extremely successful at it.”

Suzanne notices the impact of educating her community about the benefits of Happier Aging. The Nurse Next Door concept is to help seniors get back to doing what they used to love doing, but don’t get to do anymore. While changing mindsets about private-pay home health care takes time, “we let our families know that we can adapt our services and fill in gaps in government arranged care,” she explains, taking care to educate people when possible.

Suzanne’s advice to anyone thinking of starting a senior care business in a small community

If you’re considering a senior care business in a town or small city, here are Suzanne’s takeaways:

  • Be community-minded
  • Celebrate your town’s differences and challenges
  • Genuinely care
  • Show support for local issues
  • Build trust
  • Create relationships with other business leaders

The capacity for individualized service makes small-town business ownership unique. Taking locals’ frustrations into account, Suzanne’s senior care business provides support where it’s most needed. Custom care takes pressure off families, and when they experience relief, they tell their friends. “We truly let our daughters be daughters and our sons be sons.”

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