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I Run Two Businesses Thanks to Support I Received in DSM


February 23, 2018

Educational opportunities in Greater Des Moines (DSM) are an exceptional benefit for startups. I had the honor to go to Drake University in DSM to earn my Master of Public Administration degree in 2008 with an emphasis in health care. That year saw Obama running against Clinton for the Democratic Primary. During my final semester, I had a health care policy class with Dr. Alan Zagoren and wrote about whose health care policy was better and why (including the option of keeping status quo). Drake gave me additional tools and resources to challenge the traditional way people think about health care. 

Opportunity in DSM

In 2016, health care providers in Iowa faced an unprecedented move by the state — Managed Care Organizations for Iowa Medicaid. Instead of one payer there were three; instead of one set of rules there were three; instead of one fee schedule could there be three? As a licensed CPA, I am an accounting nerd, but what I saw was an opportunity. Here in Iowa’s capital, I saw providers who needed help navigating through the changes, the new contracts, rates and changes with processes. I saw providers who needed to look at the problem from a different angle to get a solution that would work for their practice. In June 2016, FinanSynergy was born.

I was bursting with great ideas, researching and writing a business plan for FinanSynergy (I would now advise starting with the Business Model Canvas — Google it). I found a group on Facebook meeting in the West Des Moines Incubator called the Start-Up Sisters. This group of wonderful women had met at the Startup Business Boot Camp for Women created and sponsored by Drake University and continued meeting for support and accountability after their boot camp. These wise women listened to my story and my journey, we laughed, we cried, we talked — and we still talk. These women gave me feedback, resources, names, business cards, advice and best of all, support.

Business Resources

DSM is blessed to have so many small business resources. One of the business cards was Christina Moffatt, who is Director of Small Business Resources at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She helped narrow my focus to health care specifically small to mid-sized independent practices. We looked at the big picture, I remember her drawing the main source of income and then spokes (buckets of money) coming off the main source and how to set up my business to pivot if one bucket was not meeting the needs of my target market. My skill set could be marketed to providers or patients for education, consulting for practices or hospitals, contract negotiation and other projects.

Expanding Business in DSM

In 2017, the opportunity to purchase a medical billing company presented itself. My consulting company was still in start-up phase with one or two clients at any given time and with one full-time employee assisting me. After spending weeks and months on discovery researching the business, I entered a letter of intent to purchase. As a licensed CPA, I was able to save some money as I could skip getting an accountant. I closed on the purchase June 30, 2017.

Focused on adjusting to a staff of 20+ employees, new processes and procedures, etc., I re-branded the business on January 1, 2018. The billing company is now PractiSynergy pairing perfectly with its sister company FinanSynergy. This coming year I continue to work with my new business coach at the Small Business Development Center. Having obtained funding locally from banks I have started a new service line that will add jobs to my business and bring jobs back to Iowa. My efforts of developing a referral network for FinanSynergy landed me at what is now my newest venture PractiSynergy.

The accessibility of the owners and decision makers in DSM has been the most valuable asset to me as a startup and as a new business owner.

Hear the stories of other small business and startup business owners in the community in The Partnership’s Small Business Resources Hub or sign up for the Small Business Resources newsletter to stay connected for information about upcoming events, other resources and the latest announcements in the small business community in DSM.

Katie Fergus

Katie Fergus is an engaged leader who is constantly looking for new ways to approach difficult problems. She is an active Board member of both Lutheran Services of Iowa (LSI) and the LSI Foundation. Katie and her husband stay active at soccer games and baseball games of their two sons, and enjoy catching a bike ride on the DSM trails as well.