Suzi Thien had a nonprofit to get off the ground. Chad Jantz needed to focus his construction business on the right customers.
Both came to the FastTrac evening classes at Wichita State University to make their companies go.
This fall's FastTrac sessions begin at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in Devlin Hall on the Wichita State campus. The three-hour sessions run each Tuesday for 10 weeks.
One session focuses on new ventures, taught by center director Tim Pett. The second covers growing businesses, taught by Don Hackett, an associate professor in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State.
Thien, a former educator, needed some help organizing the Butler County nonprofit she directs, the Sunlight Children's Advocacy and Rights Foundation in El Dorado.
"I have no background in running a nonprofit," Thien said. "I'm starting my third year here after being a school counselor for 30 years and have no real business experience.
"I really felt like I needed something to grab onto and guide me. The class was invaluable, to have the structure for me to proceed."
Today, the group operates the Sunlight Child Advocacy Center, a place where alleged victims of child abuse can be interviewed by specialists.
Its next big project is the construction of a children's home in Butler County.
"We needed to know how to build such a facility and just about every chapter in the course book provided such great structure that I could adapt to my needs," Thien said.
"The part with the most value to us has been the financial section. There are all kinds of templates in the book to plug information in to estimate costs per month, income per month.
"Could I have done this without the class? Probably, but I'd be several months behind."
Jantz said his specialty construction firm, which does brick streets, crosswalks and other stone projects, had strayed into unprofitable residential work.
Its most notable local project is the brickwork in the Intrust Bank Arena's pedestrian plaza.
"The professor had us do a customer profile, for one thing, and I realized we were chasing the wrong customer," Jantz said. "We determined that our ideal customer was purely commercial."
The company, formed in Wichita in 1990, now focuses on commercial and government work throughout the region.
"That's kind of our target market — large-scale commercial," Jantz said. "It's tough no matter how you look at it in this economy and market."
Pett's NewVenture class costs $495. Hackett's GrowthVenture class costs $1,295. Scholarships are available for both. Call 316-978-3000 for more information.