Take It And Run!

The Winter Of Their Discontent

When Lynnette Stroebele, 33, and Loretta Bromlow, 29, of Oklahoma City decided to start a company that trains certified nursing assistants, they didn't really consider what time of year it was. They incorporated CNA PRO 2000 Inc. in November 1995, and immediately began offering classes. "We ran an ad in November for December classes, and I think we had two calls," Stroebele recalls.

So the partners delayed classes until January and instead spent those first two months concentrating on other start-up activities. They painted and furnished their building, purchased equipment, obtained all the necessary licenses and certifications, started marketing . . . and were able to hit the ground running when the holidays were over.

Beyond the lack of prospective students, Stroebele says one of their biggest seasonal problems was the weather. "It was so cold, we had to run the heat full-blast for an entire weekend so we could paint, because the paint wouldn't stick to the cold walls," she says. An ice storm shut down many local businesses, including their suppliers; for Stroebele and Bromlow, the storm also meant bursting water pipes, dead phones and even broken windows. "It was difficult," Stroebele says of their first holiday season.

On the plus side, Stroebele and Bromlow were able to buy equipment at very competitive prices because their suppliers were trying to clear out their inventories before the end of the year. And they were soon able to take the tax write-off for their start-up expenses.

But if she could do it again, Stroeble would start her company earlier in the year or wait until the holidays were over. "It's really best to start when the weather is good," she says. "That gives you the chance to deal with basic start-up issues before you have to deal with winter weather and holidays."

Contact Sources

CNA Pro 2000 Inc., 330 S.W. 25th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73109, (405) 632-8262

E.L. Crow Inc., (215) 233-0762, edcrow@compuserve.com

Pure Image Inc., (800) 337-6057, http://www.pureimageinc.com

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This article was originally published in the November 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Take It And Run!.

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