Bonnie Nentl, owner of Rapid Return Medical Billing in Brainerd, Minnesota, says entrepreneurs need three skills to succeed: computer know-how, marketing savvy and medical billing expertise. Nentl, 33, worked in a hospital billing department for 10 years before she started her company in November 1994. A lack of computer and marketing experience didn't stop her from turning a homebased start-up into a six-figure company with more than 70 clients, its own offices and five employees. Her business became so successful that her husband, Tim, 36, came on board full time in January 1996.
The Nentls' employees enter claims data into computers, post payments and answer patients' and doctors' questions. Tim, an accountant, handles the company's financial records and payroll, while Bonnie concentrates on marketing. "We could have kept the business small and homebased," she says, "but my husband wanted to quit his job, so we made a conscious decision to expand."
Bonnie started by purchasing a business opportunity from National Claims Service in El Dorado Hills, California, for $8,000. She received medical-practice management and claims-downloading software, marketing materials, video computer training, ongoing technical support, medical code books and attended a marketing seminar. She also spent $1,200 for a computer, $200 for a printer and $150 for used office furniture, bringing total start-up costs to about $10,000.