The energy around Laura Oldaker is contagious. HipLatina.com caught up with Laura this week to ask about what drives her. “My Mom taught me not to ask for things, but how to earn things I want.” Laura’s Mom ran a shoe store in the back of their home and thus was an entrepreneur and the inspiration for Laura to become a business owner herself. “These were fashionable shoes for women, and I thought they were fabulous!…she taught me to fish.”
The recipient of Verizon’s 2013 Latino Business Series’ Entrepreneur of the Year, an award that recognizes one entrepreneur who has demonstrated outstanding success and powerful leadership, Laura and her husband, Justin, founded By Your Side Senior Care in 2009 to provide compassionate care to the elderly in the Tucson, Arizona area. They employ 35 people and provide training, career opportunities and benefits to local residents. She was selected from over 700 applicants from across the nation. In addition to the award that was presented to her by actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria in the presence of over 100 business and community leaders, Laura received $25,000 cash, five Motorola devices, and free voice and data service for a year. Laura plans to use the grant to make her company paperless and also to offer clients new online services.
Their home care agency is devoted to seeing that seniors are able to remain in their own homes with dignity, a high quality of life, a healthy lifestyle, and having assistance to cope with the activities of daily living. The clients receive physical, emotional and spiritual help with the aid of the friendly professional staff. The clients don’t have to worry about screening and training the help nor paying the care giver directly or taking care of the tax and legal responsibilities.
Laura’s first work experience back in 1995 was assisting seniors, but she deviated in 2003 into the field of advertising and PR. However, six years later she went back to her first love when By Your Side Senior Care was created. She has completed the MAC Business Development Course, is currently attending the prestigious Hispanic Leadership Institute, and is a Board of Directors member of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Here are highlights from our conversation with Laura:
HipLatina: Tell us about your first entrepreneurial experience?
Laura Oldaker: When I was 9 years old, I asked my mom for a Barbie doll. She said “I’ll show you how to earn enough money to buy one!” So we opened a ‘respado’ selling snow cones on the front porch. I made enough to buy my own Barbie! Never mind she bought all the materials and didn’t mention any cost of goods sold! That first experience hooked me.
HL: How did you get into compassionate care for seniors?
LO: I started working with a senior care center to help pay for college, and I loved it! I realized how much benefit I received from making a positive impact on someone’s life. I wore many hats and worked too much. One of my professors who knew I was working several jobs noticed I was nodding off in class, and he recommended me for a scholarship. That reinforced what my mom taught me about the inevitable result of hard work.
HL: What is it about senior care that drives you?
LO: It is relatively easy to make a big impact on someone. Helping people stay independent is a big driver for us. With the Baby Boomer generation aging, there are not enough family members or money to care for them properly. So we set up a new volunteer program (called By Your Side Family Care Giver Educational Series) to train family members how to care for the elderly. This empowers families to help their loved ones maintain independence.
HL: What advice do you have for young people interested in being an entrepreneur?
LO: What is your dream? Try to develop a clear picture of what that dream looks like. And be open to help from others. Find a mentor to learn from successful people who have gone before you. Finally, give back to your community once you get there!
These are words to live by.