Five years ago, Ben and Teresa Cummings decided to take action with their dream of owning a small business. Teresa, a certified massage therapist, always wanted to be in a healthcare profession so they explored buying a massage therapy clinic. When the purchase didn’t work out and after some soul-searching, they agreed that Teresa would pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a chiropractor. They moved to Davenport, Iowa to attend the premier school for chiropractors, Palmer College of Chiropractic. Three years later, with her degree in hand, Ben and Teresa made the decision to move back to their hometown, Lapeer, Michigan.
Back in Michigan, Teresa took a position with a chiropractic clinic to build her skills and confidence. Ben worked as a special needs bus driver and began exploring the possibilities for starting their own practice. In late 2009 Ben’s first stop for assistance in developing a business plan was the Lapeer Development Corporation, a satellite office of the Region 6 Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC). As with most startup entrepreneurs, the first recommended step was for Ben to attend a “Fundamentals of Starting a Business” class at which he was introduced to the statewide FastTrac New Venture business development program available through Michigan SBTDC.
FastTrac NewVenture Program
“The FastTrac NewVenture was the exact program I was looking for,” stated Ben Cummings. “I was drawn to FastTrac to build the skill sets that I needed to launch a chiropractic business.”
FastTrac NewVenture is a multi-week boot camp, designed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to assist entrepreneurs to evaluate the feasibility of their business concept. During the program entrepreneurs learn how to start profitable businesses, attract new clients or customers, retain employees and make contacts, which includes peers, resources and mentors.
“The biggest value I gained was the confidence to launch my small business by developing the skills sets to be a successful business owner. I knew the answers I needed were out there, I just didn’t know where to look. FastTrac taught me how and where to look to gain the knowledge I needed to do this right, the first time,” commented Ben.
Financing the Dream
After completing the FastTrac NewVenture program Ben and Dr. Teresa had the resources and training to launch their business, but needed access to capital. They again sought the services of the Michigan SBTDC. “The SBTDC was very helpful in making the connection with credit union bankers and were instrumental in helping us put the financials together,” stated Ben. “The financial aspect was almost like Chinese Algebra to me…SBTDC Regional Director Marsha Lyttle, and SBTDC Business Consultant Harry Blecker helped me understand the numbers enough to feel confident about the decisions we’re making at Cummings Chiropractic.”
Through a newly developed initiative with the Michigan Credit Union League, SBTDC Region 6 office recommended that Ben and Dr. Teresa contact ELGA Credit Union in Lapeer, where they had been members for a few years. Within two weeks Ben and Teresa acquired a $60,000 loan from ELGA Credit Union to launch their business and live their dream…here in Michigan!
”A large portion of the loan will go to leasehold improvements and working capital to get them through two months of operating, stated Brad Bartholemew at ELGA, loan officer at ELGA Credit Union. “We have a great working relationship with the SBTDC. They do an incredible job at prepping the client and preparing the loan package for our review.”
Cummings Chiropractic Launches
Through the FastTrac program, Ben networked with his classmates and ultimately partnered with two other entrepreneurs who are providing services to the clinic: Mobiusoft LLC (Jerry VanHorn) provides an electronic health record system, which can be uploaded to a health information exchange and which Cummings Chiropractic will be beta testing; Med IT Systems (Adil Mohammed) is providing website and search engine optimization specifically to physicians, as well as designing the website and search engine optimization (SEO) program for Cummings Chiropractic.
Ben and Dr. Teresa launched Cummings Chiropractic on September 1, 2010 at 452 S. Main Street in Lapeer. Dr. Teresa’s gentle, compassionate style sets her apart from the other chiropractors in town. Cummings Chiropractic will be accepting patients that are new to chiropractic care as well as patients that are referred to them for continuing care. The clinic will offer chiropractic services with a full range of complimentary services, such as massage therapy, inter-segmental traction, and rehabilitative therapy. A retail shop will be added in the future.
Ben and Dr. Teresa are committed to working on the business, as well as in the business, to allow them the experience to develop their own systems. At the outset, Cummings Chiropractic will use subcontractors, including an independent medical biller and massage therapists. As the need for employees develops, job descriptions and an operations manual will be developed.
Ben’s research indicates that chiropractic services will experience 14% to 18% industry growth in the next 10 years, and he foresees an opportunity to provide other young doctors with turnkey chiropractic practices. “To continue our growth we plan to continue the relationship with the business consultants at the SBTDC. They have the tools and local partnerships that we need to grow Cummings Chiropractic,” stated Ben.