When Tasia May, Owner of Compassionate Connections Home Care and Lake County native, was in the 8th grade, her grandma had a stroke and spent several months recovering at Waterman Village – an assisted living facility in Mount Dora. For the entire summer, May never left her grandma’s side. The experience was so impactful that May knew she wanted to pursue a career in home healthcare.
“The first place I worked in the healthcare setting was actually Waterman Village,” May said. “After that, I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). I originally thought about becoming a Physical Therapy Assistant, but I didn’t want to have to spend four years in a classroom. I was passionate about working with seniors and I wanted to get started as soon as possible.”
Following her time as a CNA, May worked as an Administrative Assistant for a group home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best fit. May was anxious to get back to more hands-on work and doing what she loves best – helping seniors and those in need of compassionate home healthcare.
“My story of launching Compassionate Connections Home Care really goes back to the beginning of 2017,” she said. “My best friend and I made a pact with each other to find our passions and to see how we could turn our passions into our jobs. Between that and being fed up with working as an Administrative Assistant, I decided to start this business on the side.”
May continued, “I started off by researching how to start a home healthcare business. From there, I formed the business in March 2017 – using $250 of some tax money I got back that year – and started going to chamber meetings and networking events on my lunch breaks. I was only 24 years old at the time, so I stood out at these events. That definitely helped me get some exposure and people were more willing to make connections. One day, I accidentally left my email open at my job and my boss saw several emails related to this business. That was it – the ‘cat was out of the bag’.”
May and her former boss, as you might expect, had a confrontation and a disagreement and, as a result, May left. She took a job at Ross and started working at a nursing home to pay her bills. For the next year, she worked both jobs, while still building out her new business on the side and raising her one year old daughter. Eventually May quit Ross, but still worked at the nursing home full-time on the weekends for the next two years. During the week, she continued to grow her new business.
“When I first started, I had zero business knowledge,” May said. “To be honest, I’m still learning how to run a business. The client stuff is my passion and specialty, but the business part is a challenge. For the first year, it was just me doing everything. Eventually I was able to hire another caretaker and just recently hired an office helper. It wasn’t until maybe five months when I was able to stop working clients full-time to focus on running my business as the Administrator.”
Compassionate Connections Home Care provides non-medical home care to seniors and disabled individuals in Lake and Sumter County. Their goal is to improve the quality of life of their clients, along with keeping them save and independent at home. Some of their services include: companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication management, transportation, errands and more. May shared what makes them unique and how they stand out in such a competitive industry.
“We're a small tight-knit company,” May said. “We focus heavily on providing excellent service and it shows in our reviews and Google search results. Also, my experience and history as a caregiver, helps to create a great work experience for our employees and a great client experience. Caretaking is also truly a passion of mine. Seeing the improvement and happiness from when clients initially start getting help – who may have been skeptical due to bad experiences with other agencies – is extremely rewarding. Because it is a passion of mine, I’m also very selective with who we hire as caregivers.”
Looking ahead, May’s future goals are focused on growth and expansion. She’s currently in the process of becoming a licensed home health agency. This will allow her to continue to expand and provide services in more counties. She also has plans to open a small five to six bed assisted living facility for her clients that need to transition into receiving more care. She also wants to start a non-profit to be able to provide care to the veterans and seniors that need home assistance but are unable to afford it.
What advice does May have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “No situation is ever going to be perfect and time flies,” she said. “If you have an amazing business idea, just act on it and actively take steps towards turning that idea into an actual business.”