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Rose Cartwright (from left), Karen Page and Sue Endres are the owners of Midwest Medical Practice Management.

Provided

CARBONDALE — When three Southern Illinois women found themselves unemployed, they created a business to put their 60 years of combined experience into use. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU has been on board with valuable assistance.

Rose Cartwright, Sue Endres and Karen Page are all certified professional coders and members of the American Academy of Professional Coders. They worked together at a regional medical practice until it relocated, leaving them unemployed. One of the physicians, however, suggested they contact the SBDC to explore the idea of starting their own business, utilizing their skills and expertise.

There, the trio participated in workshops to gain insights of owning a business and they were even able to lease office space through the Small Business Incubator program. Midwest Medical Practice Management launched in 2004, offering a variety of services to medical providers and physicians including complete office set-ups, practice management, credentialing, billing and other professional consulting services.

Initially, Endres said, they helped physicians transition easily to Southern Illinois. Through word of mouth, they gained additional clients and that led to hiring additional employees.

“From that point, we were getting so many referrals that we actually started outgrowing the office we were in and decided to get a bigger space,” she said.

Financial issues are critical, particularly in the early stages with a new business.

“We had to budget things just right,” Endres said. “We put in a ton of overtime ourselves, working very late nights to compensate for the employees we couldn’t afford to hire at the time.”

Page said the SBDC was essential to the success of Midwest Medical Practice Management.

“I don’t know how anybody could start a business without going to the SBDC,” she said.

SBDC advisers provided business start-up classes, assisted in putting together a financial plan, helped resolve tax issues and guided them in making sound business decisions, Cartwright said.

The center helped lighten load in a number of ways and being able to secure affordable office space was crucial, according to Endres. The company’s current headquarters is nearly 200 times the size of their incubator location and they are proud that a female-owned business has been able to grow and succeed.

“It’s rewarding to take something small and watch it grow for almost 11 years,” Cartwright said. “It’s amazing to see where we started and where we are now.”

“There are more challenges for women, but I think there is something to say for being women business owners,” Endres said.

The three women are also proud to offer quality services to area health care providers and say they enjoy having schedule flexibility.

“We can provide a good service because we’ve been in business for so long and know the ins and outs,” Endres said.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center, is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

For more information about the SBDC or the numerous services it provides to new and growing businesses, contact Robyn Laur Russell at rrussell@biz.siu.siu or 618-536-2424.

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