Employee to Entrepreneur

Lost a Job to Downsizing, Bought a Franchise

Vickie Tompkins is the founder of Synergy HomeCare in Beaverton, Oregon. She was a downsizing victim at a manufacturing company and decided it was time to control her own destiny. So, she bought a franchise in the booming home care industry.

Buying a franchise is a great way to get started in business.

Vickie Tompkins purchased a franchise, and is now living the exciting life of being an entrepreneur.

She shared her experience with us, covering what it was like to go from employment to business ownership and why she opted to buy a franchise, rather than start her own company from scratch.

What type of firm were you working at when you were let go? Was it part of a downsizing or was there some other reason given by them? How long had you been there?

When did you leave?

I was a Quality Supervisor in Circuit Board manufacturing. 188 people were laid off so yes, downsizing. I was there for 3 years and left that employment in December of 2007.

You've got your own company now, right? What is it and what do you do there?

I purchased a franchise in Home Care - Synergy HomeCare.

My caregivers go in to the homes of people in need so they can stay in their homes rather than go to an assisted living environment. We service all ages but the main client base is seniors.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur instead of simply looking for another job?

I looked for employment for about 8 months but kept coming up empty.

When this opportunity presented itself I knew it was the right thing for me to do. I cared for the seniors in my family and when the last one passed on, I felt that I had lost my purpose in life.

So, you went the franchise route, rather than starting a company from scratch? Which do you think is the best approach?

Yes, I purchased a franchise. I started it and am the first Synergy HomeCare owner in the state of Oregon. Synergy HomeCare is a nationwide franchise.

I started it from scratch but had the help of the corporate office located in Gilbert, Arizona. I believe the franchise way is the best way because whenever I was uncertain about my approach, the corporate office was there to guide me down a successful path.

That's the great thing about purchasing a franchise. There's a built-in support network. So, Vickie, how exactly did you decide what kind of business to go into?

I was contacted by a franchise broker. We spoke of different options and when he mentioned Home Care, I knew he hit on something that I always had a passion for.

With extended families the norm these days there are many families who do not live close to their aging parents. That's where I come in.

It is my mission to keep folks in their homes for as long as that is their wish. I place a caregiver in someone's home to do cooking, cleaning, assisting with errands, playing cards, taking clients for walks or whatever people need to be comfortable and provide them the freedom to live independently.

Sounds like a great service. But, owning a business must be very different from working for somebody else. What are some of the biggest differences you've noticed? What do you miss? What don't you miss?

The biggest difference is that the buck stops with me. I truly don't miss a thing about being someone's employee. There are so many politics an employee must deal with on a daily basis in the corporate world.

What advice would you give to somebody who is leaving the life of working for a company to go out on their own?

Persevere. Stay with it and if you get overwhelmed with the responsibility, simply step away and tackle something less challenging. Come back to the frustrating task later.

It is an exciting venture and I haven't regretted making this my life's mission.

Anything else you'd care to share with us regarding the transition from being laid off to starting a business?

It has been scary at times because in the beginning I had no idea what needed to be done. The benefit of purchasing a franchise means you have someone who has gone through the same thing and they provide you guidance if a question comes up.

Great. Well, thanks for being part of our series of interviews on how people go from working as employees to owning their own businesses. Really appreciate your time and the good advice you've shared with us.

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We hope you enjoyed this interview with Vickie on her journey from employee to entrepreneur. Do you think she made the right decision to buy a franchise? Are you also thinking about buying a franchise and becoming an entrepreneur? We welcome your questions, comments, tips and advice below. Thanks!

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