Kate Battenfelder had practiced veterinary medicine for eight years when she realized that to be able to provide the best service to her clients and patience, she would need to open her own hospital.
But a veterinary business wasn’t one she was about to open over night. She and a veterinary technician started making plans three years before opening their doors at True North Veterinary Hospital, which offers surgery, dentistry, x-rays, lab tests, and medical care.
“Veterinary school prepares you for many challenging situations,” Battenfelder says. “However, business was discussed only briefly. Since we are compassionate group often dealing with clients who have to make decisions based on finances, finding the balance between business and helping at any cost is difficult for veterinarians.”
Battenfelder needed to find a way to create a viable business that would still serve her clients fairly.
“Dick’s support of my goal was unwavering,” Battenfelder says, recalling how calm and grounding he was during a hectic time for her. “Without SCORE, I would definitely have not been able to get my business off the ground while working full-time and maintaining a family. Their expertise enabled me to move my project forward in a timely manner.” Battenfelder was able to purchase a building in September 2015 and open her practice that December.
Mentor Dick Ficke started working with Battenfelder to develop a business plan in 2012. But a non-compete contract meant she had to put her plan aside for a while and focus on her current job. In March of 2015, she emailed Fcke again, “His response was wonderful,” she says. He wrote: “I was thinking about you the other day and wondered when you would resurface”
The pair met again and Ficke helped Battenfelder work through steps to obtain financing. Ficke connected her with mentors Jim Hastings to help with profit and loss statements, and with Barbara Reilly to discuss setting up insurance coverage and thinking about hiring employees.