— 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
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).