Focus on the Entrepreneur
Taking Care of Business
The Pro-Seed™ program helped Dave and Gerry Kozlowski clarify their company’s direction and boost sales and profits.
For a family-owned business, growth often leads to an unexpected turning point: hiring non-family employees to work in the company. Dave and Gerry Kozlowski, husband and wife owners of Kwik Investments, Inc., a Fox Valley residential real estate investment firm, faced this transition in December 2008 when the first non-family member joined their company.
Gerry says the change was more significant than they expected and prompted them to take a hard look at their business organization. “We knew we needed written policies and procedures, but we had neither the time nor knowledge to create and implement them,” says Gerry. “We were swamped by the day-to-day details.”
When a friend mentioned the Pro-Seed™ program offered through FVTC’s Venture Center, they jumped at the chance.
The Pro-Seed™ Difference
Pro-Seed powered by E-Myth® is a six-month program for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to create a foundation for success. Through in-class sessions, online modules, networking events, and one-on-one instruction, participants learn about leadership, management, finances, marketing, sales, and customer service. Venture Center Director Amy Pietsch says participants develop a clear vision of where their business is headed, along with better management strategies.
For nearly a decade Dave and Gerry struggled over the company’s direction. Pro-Seed helped them settle on a direction, along with priorities for each employee. “An initial activity involved tracking how everyone spends their time,” says Dave. “It sounds basic, but it led to interesting results.”
The time logs revealed that staff members were spending lots of time on low-priority tasks. So Dave and Gerry eliminated some services and focused employee efforts on more productive activities. Kwik Investments now focuses on providing peace of mind to homeowners burdened by houses they no longer want. By buying homes in “as-is” condition without a realtor commission, the firm helps homeowners solve real estate problems.
Pietsch served as the instructor for Kwik Investments. She and human resources expert Andrea Hogan helped Dave and Gerry create systems and processes to profitably expand the business, define employee responsibilities, and develop marketing strategies. “We helped free up their time to focus on activities that generate revenue and respond to market opportunities,” says Pietsch.
Dave says the changes weren’t dramatic, but the results were amazing. “From 2008 to 2009, we doubled our sales and tripled our gross profit,” he notes. “What company wouldn’t be thrilled with that? The Pro-Seed program motivated us to work on our business, and it paid off in a big way.”
Small Business, Big Results
Need marketing and planning tools but lack time to create them? An FVTC Venture Center program launching in Fall 2010 may be for you.
E-Seed Express is an eight-week version of the center’s 15-week E-Seed program. Designed for experienced entrepreneurs and small business owners, it provides the information and structure to develop a business plan. It also features an all-day Boot Camp, in-class programs and labs, and will be offered on the Appleton and Oshkosh campuses.
“We created E-Seed Express to meet demand for a shorter yet highly effective business planning program,” says Amy Pietsch, director of FVTC’s Venture Center. “It’s great for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to thoughtfully and quickly create a strategic direction.”