Lake Animal Clinic

Holly Neuberger - April 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC are proud to announce Holly Neuberger of Lake Animal Clinic in Clear Lake, IA as the April 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month.

When Holly Neuberger opened Lake Animal Clinic in 2023, it was the culmination of years of hard work and dreams. As a veterinary student, Holly knew that her goal was to own and operate her own practice. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” she said. “I’m able to create the work environment I want for not only myself but my staff. When you start a business and you take on debt, it can be intimidating, but you manage your payments, you do the work, and it pays off in the end.”

When you walk into Lake Animal Clinic, you walk into a unique experience. Lake Animal Clinic shares a building with another business, Paws at the Lake, a pet boutique and bakery which provides services including grooming and boarding. “You walk in the door and it smells like freshly baked dog treats and there are many fun toys to browse, which creates a different experience.” Holly explained. Each business has their own reception desk and the waiting room features big comfy couches instead of hard sterile chairs. The dual-use location allows pet owners to bring their dog in for a necessary checkup and receive a little pampering with a groom and a new toy. “It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship,” Holly said. “If a dog comes in to board and they’re not up-to-date with their vaccinations, they can easily send them to us. Or, if we see a dog who needs grooming, we can make a recommendation.” Pets seem to agree – Holly’s clients rave about the clinic’s welcoming, low-stress atmosphere, especially for pets with vet anxiety.

The path to building a successful business is rarely simple. Faced with prolonged construction delays, Holly held on to her optimism and her business plan. “It was very frustrating but in the long run I think it was beneficial because I was able to devote that time to getting everything nailed down before we opened,” she said. “I utilized that month. It wasn’t ideal but when we opened, we were ready to go.” Holly used the extended downtime to hire and train her employees, establish her processes, and reach out to clients for scheduling. On September 6, 2023, Lake Animal Clinic opened with a fully booked schedule, hit the ground running, and hasn’t looked back since. Business is thriving, and six months later Holly is already looking to hire another veterinarian to share the workload.

Holly worked with Brook Boehmler, Regional Director of the North Iowa Area SBDC, to bring her business goals to reality. Holly’s confident management of her business plan and cash flow allowed her to turn what could have been a setback into an opportunity. “Brook’s advice for contingency plans was always in the back of my mind so I was always looking at that, making sure we had an operating reserve,” Holly said. Her drive and determination are key traits in her success. From an early point, Holly knew what she wanted to achieve, did the research, put in the hours, and is now skillfully managing the demands of a growing business and growing family. “Being a great mom and successful business owner have both been my dreams, so I have learned to manage a healthy work-life balance,” she said.

“I don’t think I could have done it without the Pappajohn Center & SBDC,” Holly said. “In vet school, I wasn’t taught much about business principles. There’s a lot that goes into running a business that you don’t realize until you’re in it. But I have a great professional network and team, including my accountant who I talk with daily.” Holly is also using her business as an opportunity to give back to her community. She founded the Lend a Paw Foundation, a local charitable organization which helps donate funds for the care of patients who may not be able to afford treatment. Holly is a fine example of a local entrepreneur who is achieving her business goals and finding a way to give back to her community.