Shelly Dretzka’s 25 years of human resources experience helped her open her own business and meet a real need for many other Wisconsin businesses.
Shelly started her entrepreneurship journey in August 2020 and, within that first 6 months, she made it her goal to speak to over 100 people to network and get her business started. Her company, titled aHRrow, provides human resources strategy and tactical support for small- to medium-sized businesses who do not have their own internal HR resources.
“One of the biggest obstacles to getting started was knowing the industry very well, but not quite knowing all the ins and outs of owning a business. I went to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Whitewater for help with a business plan, a statement of work and billing and finance systems,” Shelly said.
Ron Chisholm, her SBDC consultant, helped her establish financial templates and introduced her to many resources as well as to the logistics of selling. “Ron was great! Not only did he guide me in both my business and marketing plan, but he also referred people to my new business,” Shelly stated.
In the beginning, she made assumptions about her clients’ needs, but she quickly learned there were additional avenues in the human resources world with which business owners needed help. “I knew people would need help with strategy, and I discovered they also needed tactical assistance.” As a result, she contracted with Angela Athas, a professional recruiter who helps fill openings for clients of aHRrow. She also was surprised by the pace of her opening.
“Truthfully, I was frustrated when I first started because clients were not coming as quickly as I would have liked,” Shelly said. “But now, my first quarter intake this year has already surpassed my intake for all of last year.” And her business continues to grow.
Shelly has worked with more than 60 unique clients in her first two years, serving about 10-15 clients per month. The clients’ businesses are booming, too. “Some of my clients are doing so well they have been able to hire their own internal HR resources staff, so my job has switched from providing HR strategy to working on special projects with those businesses,” Shelly shared.
In fact, helping clients grow and succeed is one of the things she likes best about her job. “Aiding others in achieving their dreams is very rewarding!” Shelly said, the excitement apparent in her voice. “The appreciation from my clients is amazing and overwhelming. I also love the work-life balance I have been able to achieve, the flexibility of scheduling and the sheer variety of industries I get to work with. I love learning new information and meeting new people.”
She helps others meet and network through AIM Collaboration, an invite-only group she started for business owners and entrepreneur support organizations to meet monthly. “I started the group to bring great people together so they can make the magic happen.” The group includes attorneys, marketing professionals and benefits specialists, among others.
Shelly offered advice to others hoping to become entrepreneurs saying, “Give yourself some grace during the struggles, keep things as simple as possible and surround yourself with good people.” One of her own future goals is to continue to keep connecting with good people.
“I would love to be able to pay it forward to others because I had such wonderful people in my corner when I started like Kelly Renz, CEO of inVantage. A big thanks to Kelly for being such a great cheerleader for me when I was getting started!” Shelly concluded.
Accomplishments with UW-Whitewater SBDC
- Financial projections and templates
- Marketing plan
- Business plan