It’s not uncommon for lines from popular movies or songs to find their way into the cultural lexicon. “May the Force be with you,” is one such line. “Hasta la vista, baby,” another.
In terms of business start-ups, however, few lines have become as culturally entrenched, often to disastrous effect, as “If you build it, they will come,” (the actual line is “If you build it, he will come,” but pop culture quickly misquoted the phrase.) Week after week, would-be entrepreneurs walk through my door at the Onondaga SBDC convinced, often without a shred of accompanying research, that their start-up idea is a home run, and they merely need some coaching (and not infrequently, grant funding or unsecured financing), to hit the ball out of the park and round the bases. The fantasy of ready-made markets and effortless success, it seems, has found its way into the American Dream, alongside hot dogs, apple pie, and baseball.
Occasionally, however, a bona fide athlete-turned-entrepreneur comes through my door. Such is the case with Adam Ruszowski, PT, DPT.
A Utica, NY native son, Adam worked for the past nine years as a licensed physical therapist at, and later as Clinic Director of, Summit Physical Therapy in Manlius. Recognizing that he had reached his potential at Summit, Adam sought the assistance of the Onondaga SBDC to develop a business plan for opening his own clinic. And here’s where the baseball metaphors become apt. A life-long athlete, Adam attended the University of Buffalo on a baseball scholarship, pitched for, and in his junior and senior years served as captain of, the Buffalo Bulls, UB’s Collegiate Division 1 baseball team. Before earning a doctorate in Physical Therapy from Utica University, Adam also worked as a strength and conditioning coach with the Detroit Tigers during their 2009 Spring training.
More importantly, Adam came to us with the understanding that, in business as in athletics, there is no field of dreams. Long hours of methodical research, planning, and preparation are as critical to start-ups as they are to sports teams.
So too is teamwork. Although Adam arrived with extensive managerial experience, a draft business plan, and rough financial projections, he and I met or spoke weekly for five months; read and reread his business plan; worked and reworked his financial projections (with additional input and assistance from SBDC Director Bob Griffin); identified and discussed loan offers and funding options; and analyzed market research, industry reports, demographic data, and traffic studies.
Adam also updated his wife, Nikki, and father-in-law, and made sure they were fully onboard with the business plan. He consulted regularly with his attorney and accountant to review lease agreements and discuss financials. In the end, after considering three locations and meeting with six lenders, Adam leased 1,600 square feet of commercial space in Jamesville and secured the necessary start-up funding through family and Pathfinder Bank, who also have become a key member of his business team.
AR Physical Therapy opened its doors in early January. It beat initial client projections in week one, and again in week two. Adam is already considering hiring a part-time physical therapist and an office manager, again in consultation with the SBDC and other members of his business team, months in advance of initial financial projections. As Adam put it, “One of the largest advantages [of working with the SBDC] is their ability to maintain objectivity. They provide valuable feedback in order to develop a plan that if you follow, will give you the best opportunity to succeed… I am very grateful for the Onondaga SBDC and the free resources they provide.”
In my call, that’s a grand slam. Congratulations to Adam for the successful launch of AR Physical Therapy, and for applying so many life-lessons acquired as an athlete to his career as an entrepreneur.
AR Physical Therapy, PC is located at 6499 E Seneca Turnpike, Jamesville, NY 13078. Tel: (315) 932-5210. Website: https://www.ar-physicaltherapy.com/. Adam and Nicky Ruszowski’s other business, ARO Sports Coaching, can be contacted at Tel: (315) 525-2209. Email: email@example.com. Website: https://www.arosportscoaching.com/
Business Advisor’s Tip: In business, as in baseball, there are no shortcuts to success. Practice, in the form of market research and business planning, and teamwork, are everything. And as with athletes, entrepreneurs either learn these lessons through the advice of others, or they learn them the hard way.
Neil Miller is a senior business advisor at the Onondaga SBDC office located at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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