From unemployed to award-winning entrepreneur, here’s an immigrant’s message for multicultural Australia

When the then 27-year-old engineer Giovanni Siano came to Australia from Italy in 2011, he was unable to get a job. He applied for more than 150 positions and eventually landed a job in the hospitality industry with a minimum wage.

Today, he and his wife, Giselle Siano, run their own aged care company, Home Place Geelong, which provides home care services for the elderly. His entrepreneurial journey was fraught with ups and downs, but it is a story of genuine entrepreneurial vigor and hard work that helped him gradually climb the ladder.

Giovanni and Giselle founded Home Place Geelong in 2018, and the company now employs more than 250 local people. It was recently named a founding member in three categories of the 2022 Committee Achievement Awards for Regional Victoria. It was also named Geelong’s ‘Business of the Year 2021’ and won the ‘Emerging Business (under three years)’ award at the Geelong Business Excellence Awards.

The beginning

“Before starting the company, I worked as a business consultant in aged care, especially in residential facilities, where I worked on those companies,” recalls Giovanni. “I spent four years improving operations and systems before finding inspiration and a chance to start my own business to help those people stay in their own homes for as long as possible.”

From unemployed to award-winning entrepreneur, here's an immigrant's message for multicultural AustraliaGiovanni Siano and Giselle Siano

“I discovered a gap in the market where you often find people living in residential care centers who are not really ready, but because they had no formal support at home, they had no choice but to move to a residential care centre. educational facility, which frankly many people are now trying to avoid after COVID.

Giovanni notes that his motivation to start Home Instead Geelong arose from his desire to improve the lives of older people and their families. “Severe labor shortage, that is an example that often puts residents at risk, and that is the idea that came about after four years of experience and great ideas and the decision to start my own company with the help of my wife, who is now a member of full-time affairs in 2018.

“I started with four caregivers and no clients in my first round of recruiting. There is no brand recognition in the local territory; that’s how we started, to improve the lives of older people.”

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‘Mistakes are just opportunities’

Aged care providers provide an important service to Australian elderly people. Unexpected events can significantly affect a provider’s regular business or financial situation.

From unemployed to award-winning entrepreneur, here's an immigrant's message for multicultural AustraliaCredit: Home Instead Geelong

Giovanni believes it will be very beneficial to make the change and stay involved with the company despite setbacks. “One piece of advice: we learn by making mistakes. Sometimes trial and error is the best way to go about things, so I’d like to make all the mistakes I’ve made along the way so I wouldn’t be in that position. ”

“In general, I believe mistakes are just opportunities to learn, so maybe trust the process a bit more and trust that everything will be fine when you start.”

About his initial anxiety and how lucky he was to quickly build a clientele, Giovanni says: “At first you’re always not sure if everything is going to be okay, and you quit a full-time job, and suddenly you’re out of there. income, and you don’t knock on doors and try to get your name out there, and then you lose a little drive when you see the results don’t come right away.

“Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to build a customer base and quickly become the region’s go-to or trusted provider.” In just over four years, we have grown to 370 employees, including approximately 47 full-time office workers and nearly 20,000 hours of care per month. It was very rewarding to see and experience the growth of our community and how we can make a difference.

“It’s about making a difference for us. We are all about improving the lives of Asian Australians, and I believe we have demonstrated that we have the tools and the ability to do it.

First hurdles

While initial difficulties are a given in the business world and every entrepreneur faces their own challenges, for Giovanni it was the ability to forge the trust and recognition of the community.

“When you first start out, you’re just like any other provider that’s appeared in the community, and I haven’t earned trust in you. So I’m restoring that trust and the recognition that, yes, home-planned is a provider whom I must trust and entrust to my loved ones.

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“It took a while, but once the news got out and the quality of the work started showing and spreading across a community, it didn’t take long for us to gain momentum and gain traction. So I suppose the other challenge has been attracting the necessary staff. So that’s what we’re all about.”

“So that’s basically what we do. We recruit and train caregivers to become excellent and professional home caregivers, and they must have the right attitude, cultural fit and a big heart to do the job well in this industry. That’s what we’re looking for. We only hire people who have the right attitude, heart and compassion to become great caregivers. It’s hard to identify those people, but we’re slowly building a reputation in the communities where people want to work for us.

“And I consider myself a preferred employer. Every month we hire between 20 and 30 new caregivers. So we are always recruiting, there is always demand and I am very happy with our variety of activities and interests.”

The people-oriented care sector

Giovanni continues: “I believe it has become a bit more competitive”, referring to the increased level of competition in the sector. “It’s getting more and more competitive. I think many service providers are opening doors in this space while also adhering to the law.

“Standards for the aged care sector have also been raised; evaluators and the committee are watching us much more closely to ensure that we provide high-quality care and assistance that complies with the rules we have to follow. Finally, I would like to say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate in this sector.

“We meet the requirements and so far there have been no problems. We have a strong quality management system and we have registered nurses who can follow the regulations and manage the clinical governance related to what we do. We are now in a good position.”

“There are only so many things you can do with the resources we have. Every day there is more demand. The population is aging, we are living longer, more and more people want to spend more time at home and the workforce is shrinking.

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“Due to the severe shortage, the only way to continue providing care to loved ones who are vulnerable in our communities is to use technology to improve processes and increase efficiency, and to complement the care delivery process with platforms or robots. Artificial intelligence allows us to scale up efficiency.”

External financing or self-financing

Should you start your new business with personal money or seek outside investors such as family and friends? Giovanni claims that his company was self-financed from the start.

“You really don’t need much, just a small office space, that’s what I started with, three by three with one desk and one board, one computer and just me. When you get clients, you start hiring a second administrative assistant, followed by a third, and you rent out a bigger space, then I buy a 500 square foot office. That is, as long as you find your niche and are able to self-finance the business as it grows.

“I think companies need to improve their systems and provide high quality training, so we need to continue to improve the training and education sector in which we operate and maybe even expand into new regions. We currently have investments in other areas.

“That’s why maintaining sustainable and organic growth must be the primary goal. As this is a very tightly regulated industry and there are many hats you need to wear, and because it only takes one of them to fall off, you need to do your research, be well prepared, get expert advice and invest in professionals who are knowledgeable. are in their field.”

Giovanni Siano, a then 27-year-old engineer, arrived in Australia from Italy in 2011, but struggled to find work. He eventually found a minimum wage hospitality job after applying for more than 150 positions. In 2018, he launched his own aged care company, Home Place Geelong, which offers home care packages for elderly clients. He did this with grit and genuine determination as an entrepreneur.

Visit Home place Geelong here.

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