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Article posted: 2/11/2013 5:00 AM

Wheaton entrepreneur suggests to start planning, saving for college early

An interview with Jim Novak, president of College Funding International.

Q: Describe your business.

A: College Funding International is a division of Novak Financial Group Inc. We have been in business over 20 years and specialize in helping families optimize their financial life plan to include future housing, education (prep-school and college), weddings and retirement. We specialize in applying those factors to the real cost of children's college plans.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: My father was an electrical contractor and I grew up believing that being in your own business was a good idea. I realized that a sound financial plan was critical to family well- being, so I built my business around helping families achieve that goal. The rising cost of college has threatened to disrupt retirement for parents as well as education dreams for their children so we started College Funding International to help solve the problem.

Q: What key tips do you have for parents?

A: The most important tips I can give parents regarding college admission and funding is to be informed and start the planning process early. The strategies used to plan for college costs are very different from tax planning strategies.

Q: What are the most difficult obstacles in starting and running a business?

A: Starting a business requires planning and capital. If either is insufficient, you will fail. Running a business is about discipline and skill sets. You must know your strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with trusted people who can balance your skills.

Q: What do you enjoy most about running your business?

A: What I enjoy most about operating my business is helping families get their children in the right schools and having a financial strategy that doesn't leave them broke with no retirement. This is a great reason to come to work every day.

Q: What did you want to be when you were young?

A: I wanted to be a priest but my high-school girlfriend talked me out of it. Good thinking on her part.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Nothing keeps me up at night except a good movie.

Q: What advice would you give to a rookie business owner?

A: Have good counsel then make a decision and don't listen to the "nay sayers."

-Kim Mikus

Every Monday we feature a small suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at kmikus@dailyherald.com.

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