Enos CPR Services

Shannen Enos Tracy, California

“I’m in the business of helping people save lives. And the way I see it, Opportunity Fund is, too.”

As a child, Shannen Enos wanted to be a coroner.

She even went to school for it. But she quickly realized that, like many things, TV does not accurately portray the real-life duties of a coroner. The people she interacted with had lost loved ones. There was a lot of sadness. In real life, being a coroner is more … real. Shannen is a natural optimist. The idea of being a real-life coroner — and dealing with death and sadness day in and day out — crushed her a little. She’d always been captivated by the human body. She loved the science behind being a medical examiner. The opportunity to study a body and figure out what caused its demise fascinated her. The hospital where she did her coroner training had a busy emergency room. It was full of life. And lots of opportunities to fix broken bodies and figure out what was causing people to get sick. And in an emergency room, optimism is a job requirement. Shannen switched to emergency medicine and became an emergency room nurse.

More than 25 years later, she’s still on call and works in the emergency room of a hospital in the Central Valley a few times a month. As a nurse, she is also required by a federal law to be certified in CPR. When your CPR certification expires, you can’t go back to work until you are recertified. In the medical industry there’s always a need for healthcare providers to find a nearby class to get recertified.

In 2007, Shannen found herself in exactly that situation. She had signed up for a CPR recertification class at the hospital where she worked well in advance of her certification
renewal date, but it was canceled at the last minute. She only had a few days to find an alternative. The hospital was no help. There was only one person in the Central Valley who provided CPR training for hospital staff, so she called all the shots — and so she often cancelled classes if they were not full. Shannen ended up having to drive more than 100 miles and pay twice as much to get recertified. Shannen was understandably frustrated. She followed up with the hospital administration and told them it was unfair and unwise to put her and her colleagues in jeopardy of losing their CPR certification and, possibly, their jobs. The hospital administrator shrugged it off.

Shannen realized that there was only one thing she could do. She got certified to teach CPR and launched Enos CPR Services.

The impetus to start her CPR business was to help her fellow nurses get recertified, but Shannen quickly realized that there were many others looking for CPR training — police officers, teachers, new parents, and PG&E lineman to name just a few. She shifted her business model to include training and, even without advertising, business exploded.

Shannen may have taken an unusual path from coroner-in-training to businesswoman, but it was in her blood to be an entrepreneur. Shannen always had an entrepreneurial streak, and had toyed with turning her photography hobby into a business. But then the CPR business took off and it seemed obvious that the smarter of the two ventures was the one that had serious growth potential.

Today, Enos provides different types of CPR training — whether you are a medical professional or a new parent, they can provide the level and depth of training needed to make sure you can react quickly and confidently. But that’s just the beginning of what they do. They also provide first aid training, blood-borne pathogens training, OSHA training, and more.

Shannen’s mother provided the original funding to kickstart the business — $6,000, which Shannen used to buy equipment, pay for training, and get the required licenses and insurance. Once the business was up and running, she paid her mother back. Business was booming — at the time, she was the only person in the country who provided the type of training she offered — so it seemed like a no-brainer to expand. She had, after all, been running a profitable business for more than seven years, staffed it using highly trained independent contractors, owned all her equipment, had no debt, paid her bills on time, and had an enviable client list that included major corporations. She felt like a success.

But no one would give her a loan.

It was one of the organizations that turned her down that suggested Opportunity Fund. Shannen still remembers the first person she spoke to at Opportunity Fund. After so many negative responses, she was a bit defensive, pessimistic even. He listened to her and, when she was done, he said: “Opportunity Fund is different.” He explained that Opportunity Fund looks at each individual person, the type of business you own, and other businesses like yours. They don’t hold having thin or no credit against you. He said that Opportunity Fund realizes there are businesses that are not traditional, and they want to give these untraditional businesses a chance. Three days later, she got a call while she was traveling for business. He said: “Okay.” She assumed he meant, “Okay, we need more documentation.” But he assured her that ‘okay’ meant that she was approved.

She started to cry.

Shannen gave up on being a coroner because there was too much crying. But this was different. Finally, someone believed in her and her business. She was able to buy more equipment. Her business continued to grow and she was able to pay off the initial loan. Soon after, she wanted to expand her business again, so Opportunity Fund gave her another loan. Shannen says that it just feels like Opportunity Fund is in her corner. She’s recommended them to other small businesses that were having a hard time getting funding. She’s even arranged CPR training for Opportunity Fund employees as a thank you. If she ever needed funding again Shannen knew where to go. She and Opportunity Fund were a team.

And then the unthinkable happened.

Last year, her youngest child required major surgery for a chronic medical condition and would need to recuperate at the hospital for three months. With all her energy focused on her daughter, Shannen couldn’t work so she had to pay people to keep her business afloat. She started to worry about making loan payments on time while she dealt with her daughter’s recovery. Opportunity Fund extended her loan and revised her payments. Her loan consultant followed up the entire time her daughter was in the hospital — not about the loan, but to check in on how the family was coping.

Once her daughter recovered, Shannen returned to work and her business is thriving. Owning a business has changed her. She jokes that she’s grown a spine and says she has become more self sufficient. She’s learned that, as CEO, she’s responsible for whether things are going to work, and she takes that responsibility seriously. She is in the business of helping people save lives after all. And to Shannen, Opportunity Fund is, too.