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Newspaper of the Year 2004


Posted Apr. 21, 2005

Kent Nelson (foreground), president of QuickStart Inc., received the Wisconsin SBA 2005 Financial Services Champion Award. In the background are Brian and Molly Nettekoven, owners of The OutPost Pub and Provisions in Sherwood. Nelson helped them develop a business plan. Post-Crescent photo by Dan Powers

A closer look

Business: QuickStart

Location: 1981 Midway Road, Menasha

What they do: Business plan and financing assistance

Employees: 5

On the Web:

Founded: 2001


Showing others how to do their best

Kent Nelson helps new entrepreneurs get a QuickStart on success

By Pete Bach
Post-Crescent staff writer

MENASHA — Kent Nelson’s business is keeping other people in business.

And business is good for him — and them.

“Less than 5 percent of our clients have gone out of business the last four years,” said Nelson, the president of QuickStart.

That’s an enviable record significantly below the failure rates oft quoted by the Small Business Administration. The agency expects a 50 percent failure rate in the first year and 75 percent within the first four or five years.

Nelson, 31, said the most common reason new startups tank is too little working capital.

“If you’re out of money, you’re out of business,” he said.

Nelson’s knack for assembling solid business plans for budding entrepreneurs, his volunteering of time to speak to groups and his help in establishing the Outagamie County Revolving Loan Fund drew him to the attention of the SBA. The SBA’s Wisconsin branch presented its 2005 Financial Services Champion Award to Nelson, one of eight nominees in that category.

The Outpost Pub and Provisions, a new bar and grill in Sherwood, is one of Nelson’s success stories.

“I can’t even imagine how we would’ve started without a plan,” said Molly Nettekoven, who operates the restaurant with her husband, Brian. “It’s an awesome resource.”

The couple spent $750,000 getting the business up and running.

Nettekoven said they spent from $5,000 to $7,000 to have Nelson prepare their business plan.

“It seems like a lot but I feel it was a great value,” she said. “It’s thorough. Kent thinks of all aspects and really concentrates on what business you’re in, and what expenses and income would come from that. He puts together a huge binder. We’ve had a bunch of banks look at it and nobody’s ever asked for more information.”

One reason Nelson is so good at producing business plans that garner bank loans is because he’s been there himself. “It’s like jumping off a cliff when you hire your first employee,” he said.

Nelson added two more experienced hands to his staff last year and intends on growing the business as fast as possible.

“This year, we’re looking at opening an office in Green Bay,” he said.

Nelson derived the business’ name from QuickBooks, the popular accounting software program. He started his business in 1998 coaching clients on how to use that one service after logging a stint in the Kimberly-Clark Corp. internal audit department.

In 2001, Nelson started his company and landed financing for 32 clients last year. So far this year through March, his firm has performed plans for 17 clients. About half are startup companies; the balance are existing firms that need a boost.

Most clients come via referrals: from lenders or business advisers like the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).

Pete Bach can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 430, or by e-mail at

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