Susan Kusek is the Founder of Kusek Cares, LLC. The company provides pre-death planning for families. During a time of great sadness, Susan offers a compassionate ear and experienced wisdom for those who need it.
Susan has a unique history that makes her the perfect support in difficult times. She began her career in marketing and journalism. She spent time in advertising before returning to school to earn a nursing degree. Susan spent several years in the ICU and coronary care units, full-time at first, then per diem as she moved into the pharmaceutical industry. She was known for her ability to take on comprehensive programs that needed the most attention and guide her team to success.
Following a severe injury and the death of her father, Susan took time to reflect on what matters most in life. A big heart and a career of helping others led her to want to provide a light for those going through what she has.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this
the inspiration for Kusek Cares came from personal experience. I had a transitional period in my life that really allowed me to review where I was and what I was passionate about. My father was aging and still living in his own home. I had recently had to take a leave from work due to a very bad broken leg that had me non-weight bearing for seven months. During the time I spent helping my father, there were several things that needed to be taken care of and my brothers and I were learning as things progressed. It was such a difficult experience because of Dad’s waning health, but it was made even more difficult because of all the other things that were not settled before we had reached that point.
Kusek Cares offers people and their families the ability to prepare for their passing. The first step is to have that discussion that no one wants to have, to know what to expect and make the choices that need to be made in advance of death. Secondly, we provide the necessary support to the family. The passing of a loved one can rock your world and I want to make things easier in a very emotional time. I aim to be a one-stop contact for information and resources on planning for death.
How do you make money?
I provide education and awareness for pre-deceased planning. There are things that come up that most people don’t even think about. Imagine having to report the death of a parent to their power company, just to find out you can’t make changes to the account because you’re not them. Some companies have such a cumbersome process and dealing with that on top of the loss itself is painful. I let families know how to be ready for these things so it’s a non-issue.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I was profitable within the first month. Death is something that each of us will face one day. It’s only practical to be ready for it. This niche is one that will always be necessary.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Every day as I was starting out, I think. You must have a very specific mindset for this kind of work. I have a passion for this, based on my personal experience. There was so much difficulty and I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what we did. This business is truly from my heart. When you’re doing the right thing and you’re offering some compassion along with education, it motivates you to do more. Life is a journey and I think everyone has those significant moments that really make you stop and think about what actually is important in life.
How did you get your first customer?
My father was such a capable man. He lived in his own home until just before he passed away. One of the things I focused on for him was making sure he didn’t spend too much time alone. I reached out to every resource I could think of, from churches to transportation services. I became pretty well-known. I also met several of his friends and their families. My first customer was one of those families. Their father was getting close to passing and they were having some issues like what I had gone through. They reached out looking for advice on what to do and I was able to help them.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I started my career in marketing and I have worked with advertising agencies in the past. I know how to reach your target market. I will go to community centers and assisted living facilities and leave my card. I will offer free discussions with families, just giving them knowledge on what to expect.
I think an area that separates myself from other businesses like mine is that I don’t only focus on the aging population. My services are available to younger people, as well. I know a lot of people in their twenties and thirties don’t give death much thought, but the reality is life is fragile and death doesn’t care how old you are. You’re never too young to make plans for the inevitable.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I’ve had to make in the last several months was in January. I remember very clearly calling my brother and telling him that I had to go home, but that I didn’t feel that Dad could stay in his home. He had been hospitalized six times within six months. I had to get back to my life, but I had to first ensure his safety. I’m the youngest and my brother was Dad’s POA. It was the most direct conversation we had up until then and I had to lay down the law. I left in February and Dad passed I early March, surrounded by family.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe my attitude and my ability to persevere helps me a great deal. I have experienced life through the eyes of a nurse and through the eyes of a family member losing a loved one. I have also seen the difficulties of being disabled for some time when I was recovering from my broken leg. All my experiences have helped shape me into who I am. I’m a caregiver and I’m an extrovert. I love being with people and helping people. I am a great strategist and can see the big picture, then find the path to get there.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When I was working for a company called NPS Pharma, I led a team of 400 people working on an investigational study for a treatment for hypoparathyroidism. I was asked to present at a patient symposium on the treatment. By that time, I’d been working on it for three years. When I was done speaking, several patients came up to me, some crying, thanking me for the work I had done that had been literally life-changing for them. To have someone tell you that you helped them feel better, live better, it was the most inspirational moment of my career.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Death is something that no one likes to talk about, but it is a reality that everyone will pass. It’s a good idea to be as prepared for it as possible. The future of the business is good because people realize this, and they want to leave their families with less stress.
What business books have inspired you?
I have learned a lot from Darren Hardy’s books and website training. I have also found great inspiration from Eckhart Tolle as I have moved through the transitions in my life.