Robert O'Kelly, 59, decided to start his own business when he was laid off from a computer systems programming job at a large insurance company. After extensive research, he chose medical billing because he had some familiarity with insurance claims and the start-up costs were manageable. He launched his homebased company, Accelerated Medical Billing, in Las Vegas in July 1994. With just eight clients, he brought in revenues of approximately $45,000 in 1996.
O'Kelly's start-up costs also totaled less than $10,000. He spent $3,500 for a computer with a tape backup system, $1,400 for office furniture and fixtures, $980 for a laser printer, $850 for a copier and $200 for medical books. He paid $500 for a software program and an additional $300 for a two-day training program offered by the software vendor.
Investing time as well as money before launching the business was important to O'Kelly's success. "I took a coding class [to learn codes used in the insurance industry]. I took a [medical] terminology class at an adult school. I went to California State University, Dominguez Hills, for a medical-insurance computer billing class. I took another billing class at a community college, and I took an entrepreneurship course at the University of Southern California," he says.
Billing software is essential for start-ups in this field. "There are dozens of software programs available. The rule of thumb is, the more you spend, the more unhappy you'll be," says Coslick. "The people who spend less are the ones who've done careful research and found you really need to spend only $500 to $1,000 on software."