Elevator Pitch: Afea Care Services

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Esha Oberoi, Founder and CEO of Afea Care Services.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

Afea Care Services are a leading aged and disability care provider, redefining the experiences of our vulnerable communities through loving in-home care.

Working as a carer in my early 20’s, I realised that many people weren’t even aware of the option to remain living in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, with a carer coming to visit a few times during the day. This was a lightbulb moment for me, and I have spent the ten years since working to proving the best, most loving care services to those in need.

At the forefront of healthcare innovation, we have also invested heavily in technology, developing platform ‘Inebura,’ which streamlines care provision and matches clients with carers most suited to their needs.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

One of the main contributors to our continued growth, was having reinvested heavily in our original scheduling system, returning our focus to improving the personalisation capabilities of the technology. We developed it into an end-to-end home care management app, which auto-matches the most suitable carers with clients based on client needs. This gives clients greater choice and control over services. It factors in a range of demographics and psychographics like language, interests, culture, age and location, because being a carer is about more than just turning up and assisting with everyday tasks. Sometimes a carer will be the only point of contact someone has in a day or week, so having a shared interest or culture can make a significant difference.

While strategies are great when things are going fine in a business and when there is growth, I find that at the end of the day, the most compelling strategic advantage comes from sticking to your core business values and offering, remaining focused on doing the things you did to grow in the first instance. Strategy, policies, procedures and systems are all fantastic, but where the rubber hits the road and where the impact is made is through the human connections and client centric human interactions. It is keeping a balance or efficiency and personal connections.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Our culture and values set us apart from competitors and much of our growth has been organic through word of mouth referrals.

We bring dedicated and responsive support when it is needed most and select only the most compassionate carers who want to join us in serving humanity. By finding carers and a team who align with our core values, we are able to provide the best care and support our vulnerable communities.

Our Vision is to be the most trusted home care provider, our mission is to Empower people and we live and breathe the values of authenticity, responsibility, understanding and purpose.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge is our workforce. We can’t deny that being a carer is a tough role. There are days that are incredibly emotionally and physically draining, yet carers are not paid enough for what they do, and this amongst other reasons has created a huge workforce shortage. Sydney is not a cheap place to live and people aspire to earn more and progress whereas the community services industry have one of the lowest pay grades out of all the industries.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

I think it would have to be my outlook calendar. Staying organised and maximising every minute in the day is imperative for success!

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Hire slow, fire fast. As you grow and scale, you need a strong team surrounding you. We hire slow and pay our best employees above average wages to boost morale and retain our top talent.


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Comments

    Dear readers (who may have some business/accounting knowledge or experience),

    For most of my life, I’ve had a passion for healthy eating, and also helping others to consume nutritious foods correctly. I’ve always had an interest in starting some kind of small business in this area, even if the hours were just part time or casual.

    I just want some way to be able to share my knowledge and experience with people, and maybe earn a few bucks along the way, perhaps through homemade goods or re-sale of my favourite health products. But I didn’t really know where to start, and haven’t had the right opportunity and time to make it happen, at least so far.

    But I’ve finally decided to give it a go, by selling a few health goods on ebay. I could write free blogs and articles, while directing the readers to the goods for sale on ebay. This seems to be easier than running and maintaining a website store.

    However, there is one small problem. Being 56 years of age, I have no idea whatsoever on how to open and set up accounts such as ebay and paypal, let alone even use a computer! I also have no knowledge of tax or record keeping, or tasks even as simple as creating an invoice.

    But I still want to make this happen. After much thought, I’ve decided to pay 3 different professionals to help me: a computer technician, a money manager, and a goods manager.

    I need a computer technician to handle setting up my ebay and paypal accounts. I will also need him to add and manage ebay products from time to time, as the need arises.

    I need an ongoing money manager to handle all the in and out funds. He will use the funds to buy in wholesale products and distribute payments appropriately to all running expenses. He will also do all the sales/bills record keeping, and submit them to an accountant. This person will obviously be someone I can trust.

    Finally, I’ll need a goods manager to handle the order processing and dispatching of goods. He will also keep an eye on stock levels, and ensure that all customers are happy.

    It may be possible for someone to do two jobs, and then I’ll only need 2 people. Or better yet, I could be fortunate enough to find one person who can do it all!

    Since it is only a small operation (or call it a hobby if you like) under 75k, the ebay and paypal accounts will need to be set up in my name, since I don’t want the hassle of setting up a company. Plus, a company has a lot of hidden costs like opening fees, document submission fees, registration fees, insurances, work cover premiums, GST hassles, and a huge annual accountant fee, which all adds up into a few thousand annually ongoing, even if your income or profit is minimal. I’d rather something very simple for minimal ongoing cost and peace of mind.

    Ideally, I would prefer if my money manager were a close friend of mine, and he could manage all of the finance records in his own name with his tax accountant. I would simply get a cut of the profits (and simply report it as income on my own tax return and pay my own super), and he would handle the rest, so I don’t have to be bogged down with all the other numbers. I won’t need any binding contracts, because I’ll only be around people I can trust.

    Of course there might be other ways to do it, but I’ve firmly decided that this is the way I want to go about it. I just want to ask anyone out there, who perhaps has some business or accounting experience, if this arrangement complies with Australian business/hobby and tax laws. I don’t want to be doing anything that is against regulations. The way I see it, all tax and super is paid correctly, all income/expense records are reported correctly, we’ve all got our own ABNs, everyone is getting a cut of the profits, so everyone should be happy in my opinion! If I am missing something, please let me know! Thank you very much for your input and for taking the time to read my post.

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