Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are capable of inventing not just new products and services, but entirely new business models as well. While 2015 is only just underway, it's pretty clear that one longtime business model, providing in-home services, is taking advantage of technology to evolve and deepen its reach. It isn't necessarily revolutionary, but its use in certain industries is.
As new technology has developed in the 21st century, the business world has adapted and changed with it. Specifically, the integration of internet technology into our daily lives--especially through mobile devices--has made communication much easier. No longer are employees required to be in the office; many businesses are allowing employees to work remotely without ever entering a corporate building.
While millions of Americans work from the comfort of their own homes, a new faction is learning how to work out of other people's homes. As in-home services continue to grow, business models are changing and startups are finding ways to meet customers where they're most comfortable. While it's certainly not a fit for every business, some of these startups are ditching trends and bringing mobile services to industries that customers never thought possible.
Portable X-ray services.
Those with elderly loved ones understand the difficulties involved in taking them to medical appointments. Just getting them to the appointment can be challenging enough, as our elders don't move around as well as they use to, and even a minor slip or fall can be life threatening.
Understanding the difficulties associated with transporting frail patients from their homes to medical facilities, Paul Fowler founded Specialty Portable X-Ray in New York. His company offers traditional services and can conveniently X-ray body parts like an ankle or chest in as little as 20 minutes. And within half an hour, he says, the X-ray results are sent directly to the patient's doctor. "With the digital X-rays, we are using probably less exposure than you would at the hospital," he told Reuters Health.
It's not just the elderly who use these portable medical services. Fowler says the ultra-wealthy call his company when they don't feel like going to the emergency room. Celebrities even use it to avoid unwanted attention and exposure. His services typically cost around $300 without insurance, and patients must have a doctor's prescription for the X-ray. Ultrasounds are another service offering and Fowler has seen this side of the business rapidly expand over the past few years, with more growth expected in the coming decade.
According to the Detroit Free Press, "a small but growing number of people are seeking out more natural--and typically less-expensive--options when it comes to final arrangements for their loved ones." What are those more natural, less-expensive options? For many, it's a home funeral.
As with the rise of portable X-ray services, baby boomers are leading the home funeral movement--which indicates that there could be a lot more growth to come over the next few decades. While state laws typically dictate whether a funeral home must be used, many allow "do-it-yourself" funerals. One key rule is that a funeral director and medical examiner must be present. This caveat is giving many funeral directors the ability to extend their services and attend to a new market segment.
Despite the recent growth of this method, funeral directors say the origins date back to the Civil War, when soldiers were transported back home to be surrounded by their families.
Around-the-clock home care.
Home care for the elderly has long been an active industry; however, there has perhaps never been a higher level of quality care than there is today. For example, one of Inc. magazine's fastest growing companies of 2014, 24Hr Home Care, offers everything from housekeeping and meal preparation to companionship, personal care, and transportation. It's no longer solely about medical attention. Home care has become a personalized experience that allows the customer or patient to pick and choose what's needed.
The industry has come a long way and the demand for in-home personal care service is growing, as an increasing number of elderly individuals resist leaving the comforts of home for a nursing home or medical facility.
Appealing to the new consumer mindset.
While each of these businesses is unique, all have one thing in common: They're taking advantage of a desire for specialty services. Entrepreneurs are finding ways to maximize profits by tapping into this new mindset. Some are adding completely new services, while others are restructuring existing offerings to meet the needs of customers.
They key to long-term success for each of these businesses appears to be directly tied to the baby boomer generation. Each of the ventures mentioned will heavily depend on support from this demographic. While 2015 is still young, it appears these entrepreneurs are on to something big.