• United States

Groomed for success

Sep 22, 20033 mins

Business planning software helped Kris Price build a thriving pet services company.

It takes a strong dose of personal intuition and insight to launch a small business. But to grow one, you need a business plan that details your company’s financial objectives and marketing strategy.

Consider Kris Price. When animals enter Noah’s Arf, they sometimes need medical attention or at least a warm bath. Her facility provides grooming, bed and breakfast overnights, and behaviorist training for pets. A former exhibits manager for Nike, Price started her Portland, Ore., business because she loves animals.

Early on, Price turned to Palo Alto Software’s Business Plan Pro to develop a financial strategy that made her company profitable with a year. Today, Noah’s Arf has 10 employees and takes in 50 dogs per day in the always-open facility. Annual revenue exceeds $160,000.

One key to Price’s quick success was the ability to secure a bank loan – but only after the Small Business Administration approved and supported her business plan.

“Four out of every 10 start-ups don’t use a business plan at all,” says Tim Berry, president of Palo Alto Software. “Of those, only 20% use business planning software.”

Business Plan Pro uses a step-by-step question and answer approach to business planning, similar to a tax program or Intuit’s QuickBooks. With it, Price learned the difference between cash flow and profits, how to fund future growth, and how to develop a marketing plan that’s directly linked to her financials.

“The software is very easy to follow. It gives examples every step of the way, and it asks all the right questions,” she says.

Business Plan Pro also helped Price link her market strategy – which involved a niche market not previously available in Portland – with her sales potential and existing assets. “We have been so successful in our first year of operation that we are turning dogs away daily and are looking into opening a second location,” she says.

“Typically, home-based folks begin with nothing but their own earnings from their day job or credit-card debt. Most owners of tiny companies don’t understand that growth has to be funded,” says Jim Blasingame, small business expert and host of the Internet radio show, “The Small Business Advocate.”

The software taught Price all about growth funding. “I leased an empty warehouse, built an apartment inside to live in, equipped the warehouse for full-service pet care and built dog kennels, kitty condos and a self-wash dog wash,” she says. “Every single detail was addressed, including what the facility will look like when customers enter to how the management team and organization will be structured.”

With this knowledge, Price is better able to plan for expansion and ongoing labor issues, important in a 24-7 service facility. The payoff has been less stress, higher revenue and many more animals to love.


John Brandon is a technologist, product tester, car enthusiast and professional writer. Before becoming a writer, he worked in the corporate sector for 10 years. He has published over 8,500 articles, many of them for Computerworld, TechHive, Macworld and other IDG entities.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of John Brandon and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

More from this author