Desiree Vilanova, Owner of The County Health Care Guide.com, is an entrepreneur with her finger on the pulse of the local health care market. For the past 23 years, she's been involved in some capacity in the growing industry of health care. Her latest endeavor, The County Health Care Guide.com and the Black Book, its print version, offer a host of helpful resources. Desiree explains, "We offer the most comprehensively compiled database of all health care entities and resources within Volusia County. A sampling of our listings includes, senior providers, rehabilitation centers, elder law attorneys, medical equipment providers, etc. We serve both the health care provider as well as the citizens of our county."
Users of The County Health Care Guide.com and the Black Book are able to search by distance to find a health care provider near them. On the website, they can also find downloadable health care and medical forms such as applications for Medicaid, veteran benefits, Votran, Five Wishes, Form 1823 and more. The Black Book is a printed version of the data compiled on the website. It is a quick hard copy desk reference referral source for practitioners, case managers, administrators and social works, just to name a few. The books are distributed to approximately 3,000 health care related entities.
Desiree explains what led to the creation of The County Health Care Guide.com. "Approximately four years ago, I opened a senior placement agency. Owning my own assisted living facility for the past 23 years, this came as a natural follow up venture. To make a long story short, I was looking for a way to compete with A Place For Mom. I wanted to capture some of the local internet traffic searching for senior placement. Rather than building my own site, I opted to buy a small website and domain name that a health care friend had developed. A couple weeks later, after some hours of reviewing my newly purchased website, my desire to compete with A Place For Mom was replaced with a desire to develop something that had not been done before. I am not a high tech girl. I did not understand the ins and outs of the internet much less how difficult it is to optimize SEO. After a lot of cash spent and after a much delayed platform upgrade, the County Health Care Guide website was launched."
Desiree's real challenge came next. "How do you get people to use your site and to see the value in it?" She struggled with this for a year and a half before she woke up one morning and knew what she had to do. "If Mohamed would not come to the mountain, we would bring the mountain to Mohamed," she said. The Black Book was conceived in February of 2017. Desiree formed a publishing company and she spent the next ten months developing their listings format, selecting relevant subject matter for their articles, looking at cover artwork and selling the ads to pay for it. In January, they started distributing, right on time, totally self funded and to rave reviews. They have already seen the evolution of people using the Black Book, now turning to use on the website.
Desiree offers up some great tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. "My advice to entrepreneurs would be three fold. Number one, trust your instincts. In essence, listen to your gut. Number two, realize that pivoting is a natural part of growth, not evidence of failure. Number three, surround yourself with people who believe in you, who will work hard and be loyal to you, and who want your idea to succeed as much as you do, then reward them well. As a startup, you may not be able to give big financial bonuses, but acknowledgement, recognition and praise is invaluable." She also recommends Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris. The author asks questions of 130+ of the most influential and successful people of today, revealing their 'tools, tactics and habits'. According to Desiree, "These short chapters reveal pearls of wisdom and knowledge on every page."