After 10 years of working for substantial divisions of major companies, Barbara Horst did what many mid-career senior managers dream about doing: she went into business for herself.
Horst, who left a position as CFO of a $50 million division of Centura Health Systems to start Sunbelt Business Advisors two years ago, hasn’t regretted her decision for a moment.
“I always wanted to own a business,” she said. “I looked around for one to buy, and eventually decided to start my own.”
Sunbelt Business Advisors is, according to Horst, “a business intermediary firm, assisting business owners in selling their businesses, valuing companies, helping buyers and assisting in financing.”
A Colorado Springs native, Horst graduated from Air Academy High School.
She then attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she earned both a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in accounting.
She began her working life as a commercial bank loan officer, and then became CFO of Physician’s Home Health Care in the Springs. During a three-year period, she opened three locations, restructured the company’s finances and negotiated the company’s sale, resulting in a 525 percent return on investment for the owners.
Subsequently, Horst served as finance manager for GTE Government Systems, a $35 million division of the major defense contractor, then assumed the same position at IBM’s $2 billion printing division.
As finance manager, she was responsible for worldwide monthly financial reporting and for coordinating global revenue forecasts.
Moving in 1999 to Centura as CFO of the Homecare and Hospice division, Horst turned a $3 million annual loss into a $4 million profit within a year.
She improved unbilled accounts receivable by 85 percent in three months, and quickly became a member of the executive leadership team for the $1 billion system.
But Horst doesn’t miss the corporate lifestyle.
“I don’t miss having all the employees,” she said. “Sometimes you need a degree in psychology!”
And she finds working with business owners, and would-be owners, rewarding and challenging.
“Businesses are businesses – either they make money or they don’t,” Horst said. “And if they do, they’re saleable.”
Attorney John Buckley, who has known Horst for many years, is a fan.
“In the next few years, as many as two-thirds of all small businesses are going to transition, so there’s tremendous opportunity – and Barb understands numbers,” he said. “She’s entrepreneurial, and exceptionally bright. I really believe that she can be the best in the city in the years to come.”