She saw a need. She filled a need. Over the past 10 years, Marcia Ives' ability to fill that need expanded with the growth of her business - With a Little Help. And now, Ives' success has earned her a nomination for the Nellie Cashman Women Business Owner of the Year Award.
"Eleven years ago I became exposed to seniors and I discovered seniors spend way too much time alone," Ives said. "There was an enormous need for companionship. Basic daily tasks weren't simple anymore, especially for people who didn't drive anymore, and life gets lonely when they don't get out."
When Ives started With a Little Help - a company dedicated to providing caregivers to seniors, for everything from companionship to a hand with cooking - she was the entire business.
With a Little Help, based at 4015 31st Ave. W., now grosses more than $1.6 million a year and has 100 employees. The company is growing at an average of 25 percent per year, according to Ives.
Ives had a few entrepreneurial endeavors, which she described as attempts to stay employed by filling needs, but With a Little Help was different.
"It was an immediate love affair for working with seniors," said Ives, who noted her bachelor's degree in special education psychology and business management from Seattle Pacific University tied in well with the new business venture.
Though Ives no longer works directly with seniors as a caregiver herself, she said she loves her job.
"Originally it was all about the amazing connection with seniors," Ives explained. "Now, I get to be a conduit for other people to have that connection and that's fulfilling."
Despite the steady growth and continued success of her businesses, Ives finds it difficult to accept recognition for her work.
"It's been fascinating to be on a panel in a room of people looking up to you as a success, when I've always been the person in the crowd," Ives said. "It's been quite an emotional journey and definitely a personal struggle."
Though Ives said she struggled to accept and showcase her success, the process of becoming a top-five finalist for the award has forced her to accept it's OK to be proud of the business she built.
"I had to get over my shyness because the reality is people need inspiration," Ives said. "If I can do that for people, share my experience and have other people learn from it, that's really cool."
For anyone looking to start their own business, Ives said passion is critical.
But "that's not enough," she added. "It's even more important that you surround yourself with people that support you. Just because you're a business owner you don't have to know how to do everything yourself."
At this point, Ives has no intention of expanding the type of services her business offers or starting a new business.
"When you find something you really excel at, it's really worth your effort to pursue that as best you can," Ives said.
Ives will be recognized for the pursuit of her business at tomorrow's Nellie Cashman Awards Gala at the Fairmount Olympic Hotel where the winner of the competition will be announced.[[In-content Ad]]