To become an entrepreneur, you needn’t choose between people and profits. As tech entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki once said, “Great companies start because the founders want to change the world… not make a fast buck.” Caring people all over the world create businesses that are not only profitable, but also create lasting positive change for those in need.

If this describes you, companion care may provide a wonderful path to entrepreneurship. Data from Statistics Canada shows that there’s a healthy demand for this service. In 2012, 2.2 million Canadians received home care and more than half of these folks were 55 years and older. As Canada’s population continues to age steadily, the number of seniors will only grow—as will the market for companion care businesses.

This could be the right time for you to both make an entrepreneurial leap and change your community for the better. Here’s some knowledge to get you started.

What Is Companion Care?

A companion is equal parts caring friend and personal assistant, performing a wide range of daily chores in a person’s home. This might include collecting the mail, vacuuming, cleaning homes, and cooking lunch. Some companions also drive clients to appointments or accompany them on errands.

Seniors aren’t the only people who can benefit from some extra help. People living with disabilities, recovering from surgery or cancer treatments, or struggling with daily living for other reasons may also turn to companion care.

How to Get Started

It’s relatively simple to begin a companion care business as startup costs are low and you don’t need any special training. But, like any other business, there are a few things you should know upfront.

  1. You need a municipal business license: In most municipalities, you need a license to operate any business—even one that’s run out of your home. In Edmonton, you can apply for a business license through the Small Business Open Window Support Program.
  2. Companions aren’t healthcare providers: There’s a strict scope of practice for companions. While you may drive a client to a medical appointment or remind them to take their pills, you cannot offer home-based, healthcare services like insulin injections or helping clients go to the bathroom without first discussing your obligations with Alberta Health Services.
  3. There are legal considerations: Like any other business, you need good insurance to protect yourself from worst-case scenarios. General liability insurance protects sole proprietors and incorporated businesses found legally responsible for injuries to clients or damage to their property. If you drive clients to appointments, make sure your car insurance covers you if your client is injured during a collision.
  4. Consider your own health: There’s always a small chance you could get injured or sick while caring for clients. Even people in good health can trip over cords, slip on wet floors, or suffer a dog bite from a client’s pet. Investing in insurance from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will cover you if you find yourself unable to work.

Good Help Is Hard to Find

A caring and reliable helper can make a world of difference to a senior citizen. With very little in the way of startup costs or licensing, companion care is an ideal opportunity to new entrepreneurs wanting to make a difference in their community.