At Businessing Magazine, we’re always looking to highlight business owners with interesting or inspiring stories. We recently spoke with Myrna Steinbaum, owner and founder of VeniExpress, a Southern California-based mobile phlebotomy company.
VeniExpress is a business that travels to their patients’ homes or places of work to perform everything from blood draws, to drug tests, to x-rays and ultrasounds. It allows the very sick and elderly to have necessary tests performed in the comfort of their own homes, and also allows employers to have their employees drug tested onsite.
We wanted to find out how Myrna came to be the owner of this type of business, and how she reached the level of success she is now experiencing.
How did you get into the phlebotomy business?
I became a Medical Assistant in 1989 and with that certificate, I was able to draw blood. My first job was working as an MA in an emergency room, but I always knew I wanted to draw blood more then I wanted to be a medical assistant. So, I basically stalked the laboratory supervisor at the medical center where I was working and asked her to give me a chance. After much persuasion, she finally hired me to be a venipuncturist, which was the ‘90s term for what we now call a phlebotomist.
Was there a specific need that you saw in the marketplace that VeniExpress fills?
I worked in the medical lab for 15 years and would see elderly people come in either with a family member or by ambulance for their blood work. It was at that time that the thought came to my mind that I should start a mobile phlebotomy team that would come to them, but it was just a thought back then.
One day, I was drawing blood for an elderly lady in the emergency room and she had asked me if I knew of any company that would come to her home and draw her blood because the ambulance ride was very expensive, and she didn’t have any family. She also stated that she was praying a company like that would exist someday. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, and I thought to myself, “I need to start this business someday.” Like her, I began to pray about it and did some research, only to find that I couldn’t have such a business because I only had a certificate, not a licensure, and couldn’t legally do it.
I continued talk about the idea through the years to whoever would listen. Years later, the licensures for my position came out, and I was excited, but didn’t have the means to start a business back then. So, I continued working, teaching, and managing in the phlebotomy field.
In 2010, the urge to start my mobile phlebotomy company was stronger than ever. I had prayed for years that God would bless me with the opportunity, and felt that He spoke to my soul, letting me know it was time to start VeniExpress. I spoke with my husband and told him what I felt God was telling me, and he told me that if I felt the calling, he would support it. I knew at that moment it was the right time. My husband supported me and the business for four years before we saw a profit.
What challenges have you had to overcome to get your business to where it is now?
There were a lot of struggles in the beginning. I underwent a Medicare audit where the auditor gave me a hard time about being “just a phlebotomist”. His exact comment was, “How can you have a mobile phlebotomy team, you’re just a phlebotomist?” That comment hurt, but he didn’t know me and my ability to conquer adversity.
I knew I had my ducks in a row. All I need was a shot at a good account. Slowly but surely the accounts came in. After a few years, I moved the business out of my home into a very conservative office space. I wore all the hats while growing my business—drawing blood, handling administrative duties, and scheduling—while my husband worked hard for our family’s financial stability.
Every year, my mobile phlebotomy business grew and grew, and now we have 50 employees and contractors and we occupy 16 offices in a corporate building. We service all of Southern California, and have expanded into Arizona as well.
What business philosophy/philosophies do you subscribe to that have helped you as a business owner?
As the company has grown, I try to continue to better myself by reading books on business and leadership. One that really helped me was The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber. It really gave me the basics on how to lead. I believe in being a leader, rather than a boss. I try to help people reach their greatest potential. Our company strives for excellence, and in doing so we have created a great support team.
What task related to business operations was the most difficult for you to hand off to one of your employees or to outsource as your company grew?
I would say the company’s finances were the hardest to hand over. I worked alone for so long, that when it came time to hand that part over, it was difficult to ask for a budget for the process.
Where do you see VeniExpress in 5-10 years?
My vision for this company has always been to be as big as the processing laboratories, and we will get there, God willing.