QuickStart helps build base for new businesses
Plan is key for startups, consultant says

By Mike Hoeft
Green Bay Press-Gazette - October 13, 2006

A solid business plan that helped Candy Straebel get financing to start her new business should also help keep it going.

"You have to start it right or you're going to fail," said Straebel, whose gourmet food store, Savore, opened Thursday in Bellevue. Her plan is a working document that sets projections for three years.

"Getting a business plan is the No. 1 thing you should do," she said. "I follow it daily."

Straebel got help on her plan from QuickStart, a Menasha-based consulting company that opened an office in May in Green Bay.

Mike Hall, who manages the Green Bay office, said QuickStart provided help to 125 businesses over four years and all but three are still open.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that only about half of businesses that employ people are still operating five years after they open.

Hall said the biggest mistake new business owners make is undercapitalization.

"They underestimate what it will cost," said Hall, a certified public accountant. People must expect to lose money the first few months and must get through it without exhausting credit cards or personal borrowing.

An average business costs $750,000 to get up and running.

QuickStart services include:
  • Financing assistance

  • Business-plan preparation

  • Small-business consulting

  • Loan packaging and refinancing

A typical business plan includes an executive summary, management plan, marketing plan, competition analysis, operational plan and financial projections. The latter is charted over three years, month-by-month the first year. Projections include startup costs, income, cash flow and depreciation.

The plan also addresses whether the building will be purchased or leased.

QuickStart business plans cost between $3,000 and $6,000, depending on the help needed. QuickStart's fee was built into the financing for Straebel's business.

The business plan helps the lender evaluate the perceived potential market for the enterprise.

"It's a road map for a third party to understand how the owner intends to manage and develop the business," said Brad Charapata, a business banker with M&I Bank, which worked with Savore.

Straebel said she doesn't think she could have started her business without the plan.

"When the plan was completed, I knew what I was doing, and the bank knew what I was doing," she said.

QuickStart was founded in 2001 by Kent Nelson, who came up with the business name from QuickBooks, an accounting software program. Most clients at QuickStart are referred from lenders or business advisers.