Meet the Owner is a weekly column that features business owners in the town of Los Gatos. Los Gatos Patch asks each owner the same 10 questions every week so the community can get to know the people behind our local businesses.
After being laid off, Barbara Smith decided to channel her care and compassion for people by starting Ask Barbara, Inc., a company that helps families find assisted-living services for their senior relatives.
Smith helps clients understand their situations so they can continue to care for themselves while receiving help through assisted-living opportunities. Ask Barbara has five employees at its Los Gatos headquarters at 15495 Los Gatos Blvd., Suite 5. The business has now expanded to Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. Smith can be reached at 408-316-8169, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Questions, Shoot!
Los Gatos Patch: What did you dream of being as a kid?
Barbara Smith: Successful. I grew up in Richmond and I didn't have a lot of exposure to opportunities and didn't know much about the business world. I have been really driven. I have always wanted to start my own business, and finding the passion was the most important thing.
Patch: How does your personality play into your business?
Smith: The care factor is a really good fit for my personality. I was in high tech for 25 years, so being in a business where caring and compassionate qualities are important and appreciated is a perfect fit for me.
Patch: At what moment did you decide to open a business?
Smith: I was laid off Dec. 5, 2008, and I had never been laid off before and I just thought, "now is the time." I did all my creative work (brochures, websites, etc.) over the holidays and launched Jan. 5, 2009, the first Monday of the year, and had my first client on Jan. 9, 2009.
Patch: What inspired you?
Smith: The inspiration was my dad. He fell down the stairs in 2005, and that is when I got involved in this industry, as we had to find assisted living three times in two years. And now, even though he has passed, I get to talk about him every day, and that is awesome.
Patch: Describe the biggest challenge of owning a business in the town of Los Gatos?
Smith: Getting the word out and making people aware that we are here to help them.
Patch: Describe the best thing about owning a business in the town of Los Gatos?
Smith: It is a great community.
Patch: What is one thing you would never change about your business?
Smith: The personalized nature of our service. Many agencies are phone, fax and e-mail oriented and never meet their clients. We make sure to meet every one.
Patch: What is your business' greatest asset?
Smith: My people. We have a wonderful team with a very rich background in the health care industry. Two of the people I hired have backgrounds in Alzheimer's disease and are highly qualified and very caring.
Patch: What is your favorite spot in town?
Smith: Los Gatos Creek Trail.
Patch: What's one thing the community should know about you?
Smith: That someone can call me anytime, even if the family isn't ready right away, if they want to call for advice or for someone to listen to them. We like to get involved with families early before they start to look. There are a lot of resources I partner with that can soothe the whole process as well.