Older Entrepreneurs: Gerry Fioriglio

Today, we’ve added our second video interview to our blog series on Older Entrepreneurs.

Gerry Fioriglio, a 57-year-old registered nurse, founded Family Caregivers Network in Pennsburg, Penn. with one employee – herself.  Ten years later, the company has 70 employees, who provide home care, community education, caregiver support groups in a five county area.

Gerry never envisioned herself as entrepreneur, but after she had been laid off several times by large corporations, she enrolled in StartSmart offered by WORC (Women’s Opportunities Resource Center) in Philadelphia. The program helped her write a comprehensive five-year business plan and connected her with resources to launch her own company.   As a business founder, Gerry finds gratification in the job security she has created for herself and her ability to give back to the community where she lives.

Gerry Fioriglio’s advice for entrepreneurs:

Statistics show there are more small businesses started during a “down economy” than during a stable economy.  However, it’s not necessarily when you start a small business, but more important who you are and if you have the fortitude to start a small business.

If you are thinking of starting a small business, do your homework and be cautious.  Plan on working many more hours than a traditional 9 to 5 job.  In small business, your work does not end at 5 p.m.

In the beginning, you cannot afford a billing department or other management staff, so you become the person who does it all.  When I started my business I was the nurse, but also my own administrative assistant, biller, receptionist, and recruiter.  It was a lot of hard work.

But I remember what they told us at WORC; when you think you can’t do it anymore just relax and remember the sun WILL come up tomorrow and you can start again.  I hung onto that for a long time.

The homework you need to do before starting a small business:

1.      Do market research of your product or service to be sure it is a viable business and understand who your competitors are.

2.     Do a 5-year business plan with financials and a marketing plan.   Refer to it often to see if you are hitting your goals both in product/service and finance.

3.     Remember to keep your overhead low.  That is survival for small business.  If not, you will quickly get into financial trouble.

4.     If you need to finance your business don’t go overboard.  Stick to the basics of what you need.

5.     Market and network your business immediately.  In the beginning, you become your business; your name becomes synonymous with your business name.

6.     Get to know other small business owners so you can be a support to each other.

Some may think it is luck if you succeed, but it all boils down to: Did you do your homework first?



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