How to Start a Non-Medical Home Care Business
Do Business the Right Way
Starting a non-medical home care business is one of the most reliable career choices you can make. As more of the population ages, home care workers will continue to be in high demand. Whether you have a background in healthcare or simply take pride in helping people, there’s no reason to wait to start this essential endeavor!
Below, we’ve done the legwork for you to provide a free guide to starting a non-medical home care business today.
Not interested in starting a non-medical home-care business? Visit our generic Start A Business Guide.
What Does a Non-Medical Home Care Business Do?
A non-medical home care business provides assistance with daily tasks of living and socialization to elderly and disabled people. This support might include helping with grocery shopping, house cleaning, bathing, cooking, and transportation. Providing support might also mean that sometimes home care providers just visit and play cards. Ultimately, being a non-medical home care provider means filling in wherever there are gaps that might lead to a below-standard or unstable living situation.
Because this is a non-medical role, a home care provider cannot help a person administer medications, though they can help create medication reminders. Similarly, a non-medical home care provider cannot offer any medical advice, but they can drive clients to doctor’s appointments. In order to provide any medical treatment or assistance, you would need to be a licensed healthcare provider.
Though a non-medical home care provider’s exact duties will vary from client to client, one of the most important things they are often tasked with providing is companionship. With increasing frequency, elderly adults are staying in their homes as they age, rather than moving to assisted living facilities or retirement communities. While this is often a good thing when it comes to maintaining comfort and normalcy, it can also mean that a person’s social circle dwindles over time. A non-medical home care provider helps take care of a client’s home and necessities, yes, but they can also provide one of the most important elements of a fulfilling life: conversation.
Steps to Starting a Non-Medical Home Care Business
Create a Business Plan for Your Non-Medical Home Care Business
Before you get started, you’ll need an idea of what resources you’ll need—and how to monetize your business in a practical way. We’ve answered the biggest questions about clients, costs, and profits below.
Who is the target audience?
The target audience for your non-medical home care business will often be the adult children of elderly folks. Though the parents are the ones receiving assistance, the children are the ones arranging it—and sometimes paying for it—so they’re the people you need to initially convince of your quality service.
As a non-medical home care business, you might also provide care for adults with disabilities. In this case, your target audience will be the parents or guardians of the people for whom you will ultimately provide care.
How do I get clients?
To find clients for your non-medical home care business, you should connect with local doctor’s offices, rehabilitation centers, and community centers. Ask if you can leave fliers, brochures, or business cards at the front desk, and perhaps work with doctors and therapists over time to see if they will refer patients to you.
You might also consider creating a profile and searching for jobs on sites like Care.com, where you can connect with clients for free. And, if you have an active social media network, reach out in the early days of your business to see if any of your connections are looking for home care services. You will also want to create a professional website that details your experience, services, and pricing. When family members are searching for someone to provide care for their loved ones, they’re going to do their research to make sure whoever they hire is up to snuff.
How does a non-medical home care business make money?
A non-medical home care business makes money by providing the assistance clients need to live life safely at home. Care providers are generally paid by the hour, and are contracted with for weeks or months at a time. Unlike home health providers, who are usually paid through insurance companies, most non-medical care providers are paid by families directly.
How much money will it take to get started?
Expenses can be low when starting a non-medical home care business, though they might stretch into the thousands depending on your state’s licensing requirements. Many states require you to obtain a license to provide care at clients’ homes, even if it’s non-medical. For example, the first year of non-medical home care licensing in Washington State costs $3,283 and $1,530 every two years thereafter. Montana, on the other hand, charges only $20 for a Montana State Care Facility / Service License application. Determining your state’s rules around home health licensing will likely take time and patience, but it’s a necessary hurdle to jump. Check out your state’s department of health (or related bureau) website to learn more, or contact the department directly with questions.
Some states may also require you to have certain certifications, such as CPR or first aid training, prior to providing non-medical home care. The Red Cross offers these courses for $70 each. Again, it’s extremely important to research your own state’s rules and regulations prior to providing care.
Licenses and certifications aside, you will need a reliable mode of transportation. This will be a tough profession to pursue if you don’t have a car, as you will often be tasked with running errands and driving your clients to appointments.
How much do non-medical home care businesses make each year?
Non-medical home care businesses tend to make between $40,000 to $56,000 annually. This is significantly more than the $22,400 that Glassdoor reports a home care provider can expect to make if they work for a company, rather than for themselves.
How much should I charge?
Non-medical home care providers usually charge an hourly rate of $15-$27. What you charge will depend on your location and the services you provide. If you’re hired to assist with bathing, cooking, and housework, you can charge more than if you’re hired to keep your clients company and drive them to appointments. You should break down your hourly rate by task on your website.
What experience do I need?
As a non-medical home care provider, there is no specific educational or career background that you must have prior to starting your business. That said, most people in this profession have previously been a nurse aid or worked in assisted living facilities. Aspects of this job can be taxing—both emotionally and physically—and while you don’t need experience working in this industry prior to starting your own business, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek some out. There’s no sense in starting a non-medical home care business if it turns out you don’t have the stomach to help someone use the bathroom, or you don’t have the patience to sit and chat for hours.
Select a Name for Your Non-Medical Home Care Business
Have a great name idea? Before you start marketing and branding your business, you’ll need to ensure your name is available. Most states prohibit or restrict businesses from adopting names that are already in use. Even if it’s legally allowed, a copycat name puts your business at risk of a lawsuit.
See if your business name is available in your state with our Free Business Name Search.
Trademarks and Domain Names
Plan to trademark your business name? You can see if the trademark is available on a website like Trademarkia. It’s also a good idea to see if the domain name is available, which you can do on websites like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. Even if you don’t plan on putting together a website right away, you can buy the domain name to make sure no one takes it in the meantime.
Choose a Business Structure
Should you form an LLC? A sole proprietorship? Your choice of business structure will affect many aspects of your business, from liability to taxes.
Sole Proprietorships & General Partnerships
If you don’t file any paperwork to legally form a different kind of business—you have a sole proprietorship or general partnership. Essentially, these are “default” business structures. A sole proprietorship has one owner, and a partnership has multiple owners.
These structures have a few initial benefits. They’re easy, fast and cheap to start and maintain. However, the limitations and risks of these business structures quickly become more apparent as your business grows. In both of these business types, you are your business, legally speaking. Your company’s legal business name is YOUR name—so you’ll need a DBA to operate under any other name. Any business debt is YOUR personal debt. If anyone sues your business, they are suing YOU personally.
LLCs & Corporations
Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are business entities formed at the state level. The entity is legally separate from its owners, meaning the owners are not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. As a separate entity, the business also has multiple tax election options. For example, both LLCs and corporations can choose to be taxed as S-corps if they meet the requirements.
LLCs and corporations are not quite as simple and inexpensive as default structures. LLCs and corporations come with formal requirements like state reports. They also have more fees than default structures, such as formation and annual report fees. However, the benefits of an LLC or corporation—especially liability protection and tax flexibility—are significant.
Legally Form Your Non-Medical Home Care Business
If you opt for a sole proprietorship or general partnership, there’s no formal paperwork to file to legally create your entity—you just start selling your product or service. However, you will not have any liability protections or tax flexibility.
LLCs and corporations are formed by filing paperwork with a state agency, typically the Secretary of State. To start an LLC, you file articles of organization. To start a corporation, you file articles of incorporation. In most states, you can file these forms online or download a paper form from the state’s website.
Whether you’re forming an LLC or corporation, your articles will require certain basic information about your business, such as your company’s:
- business address
- registered agent and office
- business purpose
- members/managers or directors/officers’ names and addresses
- number and type of authorized shares (for stock corporations)
You’ll also need the signature of someone authorized to sign on behalf of the business, along with the state’s filing fee. Fees vary by state but are typically between $100 and $200. If you hire Northwest to form your LLC or corporation, we complete and submit your formation paperwork on your behalf for just $100 plus state fees.
Create Internal Policies and Procedures
It’s important to put your company’s internal policies and procedures in a written document, especially if you’re starting your business with others. Partnerships have partnership agreements. LLCs have operating agreements. Corporations have bylaws.
These documents look a bit different for each kind of business, but they serve the same general purpose. They ensure there’s a clear path forward for any major issue that may arise, from changes in ownership to closing the business. LLCs and corporations also typically need an operating agreement or bylaws in order to open a bank account.
Get an EIN and Register for Taxes
Nearly all LLCs and corporations will need to request a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. If you file corporate income taxes, have employees, or file certain franchise taxes, you must have an EIN. An EIN is also a common requirement for opening a business bank account. Most businesses can request an EIN by filling out the IRS’s online form.
Your EIN is for federal taxes—but you’ll likely have state and local tax obligations as well. You will most likely need to set up an account with the state’s Department of Revenue, and you may need to apply for a state tax ID or a sales tax license as well.
Learn more about how to Get an EIN for your business.
Open a Bank Account
A business bank account keeps your personal finances separate from your business finances. For LLCs and corporations, keeping separate finances is essential for maintaining liability protection. To open an account, LLCs and corporations typically need to bring to the bank a copy of their articles, their operating agreement or bylaws, and their EIN.
Obtain Required Licenses and Permits
Many businesses will need a business license to operate. Licensing information—as well as any zoning requirements or other permits—can usually be found on the city or county website.
Requirements around non-medical home care licensing differ from state to state. Everything is varied, from the name of the service, to the cost of licensing, to the time it takes to obtain a license. Some states (looking at you, New York) might even place moratoriums on home care licenses from time to time. Researching the demands of your state will be essential in order to get your business up and running in a legal and timely manner.
Next Steps for Your Non-Medical Home Care Business
After your business is up and running, there are a few additional steps you may want to take as you grow:
- Get online: With your domain name, you can create a business website. You can hire a professional or use a website-builder like Wix or WordPress. You may also want to invest in online ads through a program like Google Ads.
- Hire employees: Hiring employees requires quite a few steps. You’ll need to collect W-4s and I-9s from employees, report the new hires to the state, set up withholding, pay for unemployment insurance, distribute any required documents and notices to employees, and display wage and safety info in the workplace. Employer.gov is a good place to start, followed by your state’s tax or labor office.
- Get business insurance: While LLCs and corporations protect you from personal liability, you don’t want your business to go bankrupt in the face of an accident, injury or other disaster. At minimum, it’s a good idea to look into general liability insurance. For your non-medical home care business, it’s also a good idea to look into Errors and Omissions insurance. This will protect you against claims regarding inadequate or negligent work. For example, a client might find reason to sue you if they get injured while you help them bathe. E&O insurance costs most small businesses between $500 and $1,000 a year, according to Insureon.
Is a Non-Medical Home Care Business Right for Me?
What’s it really like to work in a non-medical home care business?
Working in a non-medical home care business can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor. By providing necessary living assistance to individuals, you allow them to continue living the way they want to—at home with a certain amount of freedom. What could be better than that? Yet, while this job can be rewarding, it might also be boring at times. It all depends on the client and what you’re hired to help them with. Even though some of your tasks may start to feel monotonous, this doesn’t mean you can check out. Your clients are relying on you to be alert, present, and helpful.
Because your clients may be fairly isolated, you should be ready for a lot of listening during your visits. It may not seem like something you have to prepare for, but being on the receiving end of a lifetime of stories does take energy, even when you’re an eager conversationalist.
What does it take to succeed in the world of non-medical home care?
Whether you’re grocery shopping or helping a client in the bathroom, as a non-medical home care provider, you need to approach every task with care. Empathy will be your superpower when it comes to being good at this job.
Although providing non-medical care allows people to live in their homes for longer than they otherwise would’ve, it can also put them in a vulnerable and difficult position. Nobody likes admitting that they need outside help to do things they used to handle themselves, or that family members used to help them with. By approaching every person and situation with empathy, you will make your clients feel comfortable and seen.
Ready to Form an LLC or Corporation?
Northwest Registered Agent is here to help with all your small business ideas and needs. Answer a few simple questions about your business, and we’ll prepare and submit your formation paperwork to the state. We also provide your new business registered agent service, free business forms and guides, and much more.