Women In Business: Terrie Hounsome

April sees the fourth of our ‘Women In Business’ series, focusing on Terri Hounsome from Crawley, who is a long-standing client of Resolve Financial Solutions. Terri is now retired but she had such an interesting career that we thought it would be interesting to catch up with her and share her expertise and advice with others.

Terri started her career at 18 years old, working in the Civil Service in London and worked in most of the Government offices, then went on to the House of Parliament for four years. She married in 1971, moved to Crawley and joined British Caledonian as a Personal Assistant and was there for nine years until her daughter was born. She then joined BT at the Crawley Telephone Exchange working evening and nights so that she was available to take her daughter to school. When the Crawley Telephone Exchanged closed down, she went to Royal Mail to work part-time and this is where she met her business partner.

Terri Hounsome

Terri had never thought of becoming involved in the care sector, until her mother went to St Christopher’s for four weeks for respite after an illness. She visited her everyday and become more aware of how the care home was run and definitely thought she could do a better job, which was proven later on.

“The owners stated that they were selling the care home, so I asked for first refusal. We had to raise £100,000, which in 1996 was a considerable sum, especially when I had no money and my husband had been supporting me. We agreed to remortgage our house for the share of £50,000 and Dil, my business partner contributed the other £50,000. I couldn’t believe they both had such faith in me to do a great job!”

It has become apparent after speaking with a selection of Women In Business, that other individuals knew the importance of believing in themselves and being determined to succeed.

“We had a problem raising the rest of the £450,000 that we needed, as three banks turned us away due to lack of experience. We then found the name of the existing bank who had given the previous owners a mortgage and they took a chance on us!”

Looking back, Terri’s main advice to others is to have faith in yourself and know your limitations. She didn’t at the time but hindsight is a wonderful thing. “I didn’t realise how closely and heavily regulated the care industry was. I also had to pass a Registered Managers award before I could manage the care home. I soon came to realise that the CQC Inspectors could be your enemy or friend depending on the stance you took with them.”

We were interested in learning how Terri managed the challenges that come with owning and managing a care home. “The rough times were the hardest and the thought of giving up crossed my mind, especially in the early years. I had a responsibility though to 20 people who lived in the home and the 16 staff that we employed. Giving up wasn’t an option.”

The hardest time when running the care home was when Terri lost her husband of 48 years. “Richard was my rock and when he passed away, I still had to carry on. The sunshine had gone out of my life and I didn’t want to go back to work but things did get better. If you want anything in life hard enough, then you will endeavour to make it happen. It is better to have tried than to say I wish I had…”

Women in Business

Terri has experienced many different situations at the care home over the years and believes that women are a fantastic asset to any business. “Women bring a different mindset to their male counterparts. I believe women are more resilient, they take more risks, seeing challenges as opportunities. Over the years, I have noticed that women listen more and often do what they need to do especially when life becomes tough.”

Until April 2022, approaching 77 years old, Terri was still managing the care home and staff. She undertook all the paperwork, cooking when needed and any other jobs that needed doing. She is now starting to enjoy retirement:

“I found it very hard when I retired, no more being on call 24-hours-a-day, going to the care home in the middle of the night etc. I have slowly grown used to not working at the care home, spending more time with my family and grandsons. I’ve taken up baking bread on a regular basis and I’ve started writing my memoirs of the time I owned the care home. My mother told me very little about her life so I thought my grandsons would like something to remember me by.”

Terri has just finished turning her garage into an office and is now looking for her next project of buying a rental property to renovate and rent out. If this is successful then she is looking to buy another one with her business partner Dil.

Terri’s key piece of advice…

“Enjoy the rollercoaster of life! Make sure you surround yourself with wonderful, reliable and supportive people, take chances and don’t be afraid. If you fall down you can always get up again.”

If you would like to feature in our Women in Business Series, then please get in touch.

Read our other Women in Business interviews here: Cat Archer Underwood, Suzanne Bungard, Lizzie Smith, Dipalee Jukes.

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