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4 Big Ideas for Selling Your Product Online

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
4 Big Ideas For Selling Your Product Online
by  
Ecommerce is one of the areas I get asked a lot about when I work with food businesses. It is tempting to think that if you just build it they will come and then a month or two later they are wondering why product isn’t flying of the digital shelf.

I knew I wanted to dive into this topic more and go over the high-level ideas around setting up an ecommerce store and choosing the best platforms for your type of product.  Since this presentation was part of Artup Week, my goal was to keep the presentation broad enough for artisans of all kinds making a physical product they wanted to sell online.  I was so fortunate to connect with Ben McConnell of Blue Parable who specializes in helping clients set up and see success in the world of ecommerce.  We got to work last December to map out the ideas and I quickly realized that I needed to take my own advice that I give to my clients and turn it over to an expert.  I know a lot about ecommerce, at least enough to be dangerous, but Ben is THE expert.

With only 45 minutes, we broke it down to four big ideas we wanted everyone to come away with

1)  Myths of Ecommerce
2) Opportunity is Big
3) 4 Platforms to Know
4) Your Business is Unique

My favorite part of the presentation is around the myths of ecommerce. I see clients fall into both of these a lot.

  1. An ECommerce business is cheaper to operate than a brick and mortar business
  2. An solopreneur can make millions of dollars selling online

The reality is that no one can really operate as a true solopreneur, doing everything well, at least not for very long. I thought this slide illustrated all of the things an ecommerce entrepreneur needs to do. This just reinforced the theme that came up for me throughout Startup Week is that you can’t, and shouldn’t, go it alone.  Get expert help and focus your resources on doing what you are really good at.

The other takeaway is just how big the opportunity is.  But you have to find your customers by being on the right platforms and investing in your business with some marketing initiatives.

We did record the presentation, but it isn’t “mic’ed” so it is a little hard to hear. You can also get the handout we gave out here or get the whole presentation here.

Following the presentation we had a panel discussion with Ben, Charity of TechKnow and also an ecommerce business owner and Lukas Matthews of Twin Scroll Marketing, an Amazon optimization service.

I am also including some links to articles I have read recently about selling on Amazon that may be of interest to you:

Pie Shell Blog here about selling on Amazon

Amazon pushes for more exclusive products here

QuickBooks for Small Business Owners – Online and Desktop Versions

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

QuickBooks for Small Business Owners - Online and Desktop Versions | Digital Workshop CenterQuickBooks for small business owners is recognized as an industry leader in accounting software, helping you keep track of bookkeeping, inventory, payroll, expenses, sales, and more. QuickBooks not only provides easy ways to manage accounting, it also offers marketing solutions, real-time reporting, year-to-year comparisons, data tracking functions, and more. QuickBooks should be at the top of the list for business owners and those seeking to upskill their accounting resumes of programs to learn and understand how they function.

One of the first steps to learning QuickBooks is to understand the different program levels and available versions of the program. QuickBooks offers both an online and desktop version of their program, as well as different membership levels depending on what features you want the program to have.

To help you decide which is best for your business, understand the main differences between the QuickBooks online and desktop versions: 

  1. Fees: Quickbooks online offers a free 30-day trial period; while the desktop software must be purchased before use. Desktop has a one-time upfront cost, but the online version has different monthly pricing levels depending on use and needs. The desktop version may include upgrade costs to meet your business’s complete needs. Determine what your QuickBooks will need to do and how you or your business will be using the software before deciding.
  2. Access: QuickBooks online is a cloud-based software, meaning as long as you have a good internet connection, you can access your books anywhere, anytime. QuickBooks desktop, on the other hand, is only available on the computers it is installed on.
  3. Program Functions: The basic functions of QuickBooks online vs. desktop are the same in terms of invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, and so on, but the online version actually provides more included features than desktop. Compare the features of each here.
  4. Support: The online version of QuickBooks comes with free support; the standard desktop version does not have included support unless you upgrade to the Pro Plus edition.
  5. Customizability: Both the online and desktop version of QuickBooks offer some degree of customizability. However, if your business must account for calculating and rebilling of job costs or needs to calculate discounts by customer, the desktop version is the only of of the two that can currently do so at this time.

As with anything, both the QuickBooks desktop and online versions each have their own high and low points. QuickBooks Desktop makes sense for businesses who are concerned with the following:

  • Security: If you want to keep your data off the cloud and only in your office, the desktop version may be best for your business.  
  • Simplicity: If your business has a fixed office location and only needs to give access to a handful of users, desktop might right for you.
  • Costs: To avoid the monthly recurring fee, desktop is the only answer.
  • Custom Features: If your business needs to include customer discounts or complex job costing, the desktop version is a better choice.

QuickBooks Online might be right for businesses needing:

  • Remote Access: If you need to access your books at any point, anywhere, the online version is better able to meet this need.
  • Multiple Users: If your books need to be accessed by multiple people at the same time, the online version is better able to handle this.
  • Support: If easy-to-access support is important for your business, the online version provides more support options.
  • Features: The online version offers more included features for users in terms of automation, applications, and the like.

Regardless if you decide to utilize the online or desktop version of QuickBooks, having a deep understanding how the program functions is valuable for your small business or accounting career. If you’re ready to learn more about QuickBooks and it’s features and how to effectively use it, consider taking a course at the Digital Workshop Center. We offer classes for both the online and desktop version in a group setting or in a one-on-one basis in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado. By joining us for our QuickBooks classes, business owners will  learn the skills you need to successfully manage your small business accounting, how to optimize both the online or desktop QuickBooks versions, generate critical business reports. Applicants will learn the skills necessary to succeed in an bookkeeping or accounting job. Learn more about the QuickBooks classes offered at the Digital Workshop Center and register today!

Terri Donovan-Keirns - Assistant Director at the Larimer SBDC

Friday, February 01, 2019

Jimena Peck Photography

Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Jimena Peck Photography 

Jimena Peck is a native of Argentina, who has built a vibrant photography business.   “I do mostly editorial work that helps tell a story. I also do food photography and portraits. My style is clean, simple, and especially features natural light. I sometimes travel to remote sites for the project.”

After earning a Journalism degree in Argentina, she moved to Holland and began doing photo shoots for the digital marketing platform of a specialized shopkeepers association.  She moved to Fort Collins in 2015 and expanded her freelance business.  In early 2018, she had built up her client portfolio enough to go full-time!

As a former model, Jimena experienced and witnessed many aspects of the photography industry.   “ I traveled internationally a lot, and was often language-limited, so I started doing photography to communicate”.

Jimena was hiking with a friend who told her about the SBDC.    Jimena met  with SBDC Creative consultant Jennifer Spencer.   “Jennifer is always helping out. She helped me with self-confidence and developing my skills. She helped with pricing and managing accounts.”   She(Jimena) also met with Amy Alcorn, SBDC social media specialist.  “Amy helped me with the text on my website. I’ve worked two years on my SEO, because “being found” is my most important goal.” 

Jimena has set up her LLC, and plans to implement QuickBooks software in 2019. 

The Larimer SBDC offers specialized classes and consultants to our Creative clients like Jimena, who add so much to our communities.  “I wasn’t considering myself as a business.  The SBDC gives you the option of talking to someone who understands your situation, and what you need.”

See Who's Joining Us in 2019!

Monday, December 10, 2018

We are excited to introduce the new consultants who will be joining us in January, 2019! These consultants come to us with a wealth of knowledge from Marketing, Restauranteur, Partnership Relationship Management and much more. To see their full bios visit: http://www.larimersbdc.org/about-us/consultants

Craig McBreen

Fort Collins Marketing Specialist

Craig is the owner of McBreen Marketing, an integrated marketing firm that specializes in helping small businesses develop distinct, cohesive, and systematized marketing that brings results.

His mission is to help start-ups and small business owners craft an online presence that builds authority, increases brand awareness, and is built for long-term success. And he has over 20 years of experience leading teams of creative professionals.

Craig is also a certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant.


Jeff Jensen 

Fort Collins Business Consultant

Jeff has lived in Larimer County since 1974 and graduated from Larimer County Vo-Tech, Colorado State University and the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

Jeff specializes in strategic planning, (short and long term), new business and succession planning. He has built service and retail.
businesses  "Budgeting and P&L decision making is critical to success and I can aid with helping build or evaluate this for your business."

Jeff has been building new and turnaround business for nearly 35 years. His consulting has been built around small business (less than 50 employees) and political consulting.


John Verderame

Fort Collins Restaurant Consultant

John Verderame began his career earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. He successfully navigated the restaurant industry for almost twenty years in New York City in many high profile front and back-of-house roles. Verderame has helped develop and execute concepts, designed spaces, and expertly crafted food and beverage menus and wine lists. 

Verderame recently employs both his hospitality and education expertise as an Instructor at Front Range Community College in the Business and Hospitality Management department where he wears his chef whites instructing college students in culinary arts coursework, cost controls, purchasing, and management. Verderame's diverse and lengthy experience in the industry working with prestigious and elite Chefs and restaurateurs from concept to opening and expansion makes him a valuable mentor. His ability to hire, train and develop staff, and to teach management how to see what the guest sees creates a new standard of service for an unforgettable experience.

Rich Chiappe

Estes Park Marketing Specialist

Rich began his career in sales for large corporations transitioning to business development for multiple high tech startups before eventually building his own businesses. Most recently, he helped his business partners grow their aviation manufacturing business from $1M to over $5M in annual sales becoming the industry leader in their space.

After raising their three children, Rich and his wife moved to Estes Park where they now own and operate a very successful lodging business.

Rich holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas and loves helping fellow business owners create, stimulate and grow opportunities for their businesses.


Ben McConnell

Loveland Marketing Specialist

Ben McConnell is co-founder and CEO of Blue Parable, a Loveland based software start-up focused on bringing elegant, intuitive software solutions to businesses big and small.

In addition to running Blue Parable, Ben serves as Manager of Ecommerce and Digital Marketing for Cloz LLC, a Loveland based boutique retailer owned by his fiancée Anna Gutierrez and her mother Penne Sperry. Cloz operates two brick and mortar retail stores in downtown Loveland, each with an accompanying ecommerce site.

Ben has a passion for business architecture. He's well versed in a myriad of business analysis and modeling techniques that enable process centric design of business solutions. He loves sharing these tools with business leaders and helping them improve their existing products and services, or create new ones.

Ben's expertise includes software development, product management, project management, business architecture, process engineering, IT architecture, team management, service management, ecommerce, and digital marketing.







Small Business After Hours - Show me the Money!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Small Business After Hours - Show me the Money!

Thursday, October 25, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive;
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

Are you seeking funding for your small business but are unsure of where to begin? With all the options available for small businesses today, it's normal to feel overwhelmed! The Larimer SBDC is bringing together several types of funding sources for you to ask questions and get answers.
           
In this unique event, we will have representatives from each of the categories above do a short introduction of their funding source. After this short introduction, there will be a speed-dating style format so you can determine the right source for you. Come prepared with your questions and get answers directly from the funding experts!

Our Moderator:

Mike O'Connell
SBDC Director

Mike earned a business degree from Pursue University, and worked in a variety of executive sales, marketing, and business-unit management positions. He purchased Mountain Woods Furniture (MWF), a leading national manufacturer of rustic hand-crafted furniture, and operated that business until its’ sale in December 2011. MWF’s products were sold through Cabela’s, national furniture e-tailers, furniture stores, and to resorts and lodges. He provided over 6,000 paychecks to American manufacturing workers during his ownership of MWF.


Our Panelists

Brittany Brown
1st National Bank

As a Sr. Advisor in Business Banking, Brittany has experience managing and advising a range of businesses. She has a focus for start-up companies and companies with 50 employees or less. She has a demonstrated history of working in the banking industry and believes in providing valuable customer service and being an accessible resource for her clients. She is skilled in portfolio management with emphasis on business and financial analysis. Brittany moved to Colorado in 2009 and enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family outdoors in the beautiful Northern Colorado communities.


John Berkhausen
Cache Bank & Trust  

John Berkhausen has been a banker since 2007 and has been with Cache Bank & Trust since 2013.  He has served in multiple roles with Cache Bank & Trust and is currently Regional President overseeing all facets of the Larimer County Market including loans and deposits, cash management, credit, the market’s P&L, operations, human resources, and building management.  Within Cache Bank & Trust, John is a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee and Loan Committee.  

John grew up in Southern California, attended Boston College for his undergraduate studies, and graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with his Juris Doctorate and Masters of Business Administration.  John is an active member of the community sitting on the St. Joseph Catholic Church Finance Council, participating in the United Way of Larimer County Business Cares program, and working with the Next Generation of Bank Leaders Board of Directors for the Independent Bankers of Colorado.  He was a 2013 Coloradoan Featured Young Professional, a 2014 recipient of the BizWest 40 Under Forty Award, a past member of the United Way of Larimer County Board of Directors, and loves being outdoors in his spare time. Most importantly, John is the father of four daughters (yes, you read that right) and has been married to his wife Cristin for 13 years.


Lewis Hagler 
Colorado Enterprise Fund

As Director of Credit Quality, Lewis monitors portfolio and credit quality. He also manages our Northern Colorado lending activity including consulting with potential applicants about their business plans, performing credit analysis and loan underwriting, and providing ongoing business advisory services to borrowers. Prior to joining CEF in 1994, Lewis was the Director of the Small Business Development Center in Boulder. He is an entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience owning and operating a variety of successful business ventures with special knowledge of the restaurant and food service industry.


Gwen Bonilla
Accion

Gwendolyn Bonilla is a Regional Loan Officer for Accion in Colorado. She is a Colorado Native and for over seven years with Accion, has helped entrepreneurs across the state access loans to finance their existing and start-up businesses. Gwen graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver. She is fluent in English and Spanish. When not at the office, you may find her and her husband taking advantage of Colorado’s awesome recreation centers and splash parks with their two young children, Makayla and Nathan, and chasing their yellow Labrador-mix puppies.

Paul Watkins
Guaranty Bank

Paul Watkins joined Guaranty Bank and Trust in 2015 with over 15 years of experience in the area of commercial lending.  As a commercial lender, Paul works with Colorado business owners, non-profits, municipalities and high net worth individuals to help them continue their path of financial success. Paul’s primary role at Guaranty Bank and Trust is to learn about his customer's goals, understand the most in-depth details about their business and assist them in securing commercial loans. Additionally, he educates his customers on Guaranty Bank and Trust's services that will help them meet both their short-term and long-term objectives through increased efficiencies, improved cash flow, and reduced risk. 

Paul has a deep passion for Northern Colorado, as a 5th generation Colorado native and graduate of UNC’s Monfort College of Business.

Ben Mozer
The Lyric Cinema

Ben Mozer was born and raised in Fort Collins.  He started The Lyric Cinema in 2007 and helped his wife, Elizabeth, start LoCo Food Distribution in 2011.  Ben will be survived by two sons, Bailey and Jack.

In 2017 Ben ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.  This helped The Lyric Cinema purchase (digital) projectors which were instrumental in keeping the doors open.




An Easy Way to Grow and Reach Your Market: Podcasting

Thursday, September 06, 2018

An Easy Way to Grow and Reach Your Market: Podcasting

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and effective way to educate, inspire, and serve more customers, podcasting just might be an excellent choice for you. Even though its been around for at least 15 years, podcasting is still in a state of steady growth. The latest numbers indicate that the number of listeners worldwide has reached almost 100 million. Interestingly, there are only just over 200,000 podcast creators currently active in the content arena. Compared to blogging and video creation, podcasting is still a relatively small competitive field.

I did my first podcast in 2008 on a website that I’d created for home recording beginners. Back then the process of producing and distributing the podcast was cumbersome and time consuming. There were a lot of steps between having an idea and people listening to me telling them the latest in the world of home recording equipment and techniques. Just setting up all the necessary accounts and distribution channels took several days. Luckily, those days are over.

What used to require thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, and a steep learning curve in technical ability can now be done with a smartphone and a free app called Anchor. With Anchor you can record, edit, interview guests, add music and sound effects, and with one click distribute your podcast to all the channels you need to reach. Anchor also allows you to announce your podcast episode releases to followers on Facebook and Twitter, and it allows you to embed your podcast episodes in html friendly email services and websites.

For those who would still like to attain the highest level of professional quality the news is equally encouraging. High quality recording technology has become available at a price that is affordable, and there is a wealth of free resources to learn how to use it. Services like SoundCloud and Pippa provide reliable audio hosting for a low monthly cost, and with a couple of hours of setup time, you can create a feed for your podcast that will be available alongside those of celebrity hosts like Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuck.

If you’d like to explore podcasting as an easy way to market and promote your business,  Larimer Small Business Development Center will be hosting a workshop, Podcasting Made Easy on Wednesday October 24, 2018 at 12PM. I’ll be sharing practical information on necessary equipment, planning, producing, and delivering your podcast with simplicity and ease. I’ll also provide a few templates that you can copy and use to streamline your production and distribution process.

The registration page for this workshop may be found HERE. Early registration is encouraged. Admission is FREE!

Franklin Taggart is a business consultant at the LBDC & the SBDC. Franklin’s specialty area is helping independent creative professionals build successful businesses.


Published by MaryAnn Huffines LBDC

Efficiency Works for Business

Friday, August 31, 2018




Lunch 'n Learn - Podcast Made Easy

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Podcasting Made Easy

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

While some online media platforms have begun to slow in growth, podcasting continues to grow in both reach and scope, second only to online video. More people are listening to podcasts in their cars, offices, and homes than ever before.   Podcasting is an easy way to reach new markets, and to stay visible in those you have already cultivated. It is also a fantastic way to bring value to your audience through sharing your knowledge, inspiration and wisdom.

In this Lunch and Learn SBDC Consultant Franklin Taggart will take you through the steps to create and launch your own podcast. You will learn:

  • Necessary equipment and platforms. 
  • Formatting and production. 
  • Identifying and expanding your audience. 
       and more...

Franklin is an experienced podcast creator and producer.



Franklin Taggart
SBDC Consultant

















Small Business After Hours - The Ins and Outs of Franchising

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Ins and Outs of Franchising

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Larimer SBDC - Rocky Mountain Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)
Are you considering buying a franchise but do not know where to begin?  Come hear from our franchise panel from those that have been there and done that as they share their experience and expertise to educate you as you explore the amazing world of owning a franchise.

We'll cover topics such as:

                Why would you choose a franchise instead of building a business from the ground up?
                What are the essential personal and professional qualifications of owning a successful franchise?
                How do you find the ideal franchise?
                What are the costs involved in owning a franchise and can I obtain financing for a franchise?
                What are Franchise Disclosure Documents and Franchise Agreements?
                Can I replace my current income and how long will it take?

Our Panelists


 Jim McWilliams

Jim McWilliams graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor’s in Business. He worked for Goodyear in various positions for over 19 years. Positions included managing retail stores, Division Sales Training Manager supervising up to 20 retail stores and Franchise Business Manager. Jim owned up to four retail Goodyear Stores in Fort Collins, Loveland and Cheyenne during a 24 year period. He sold the business in October 2007. Also, during this period, Jim owned a Duds and Suds laundry mat franchise and Mail Boxes Etc. franchise.




 Charlie Morris

Charlie Morris has a Bachelor's Degree in Business.  He has worked in retail in various positions for the past 48 years.  Positions included managing retail stores, store design, fixture design and opening new stores. As VP of Retail Store Operations, he was responsible for 34 retail stores, which included personnel training, marketing, inventory purchasing, inventory management and distribution.   For the past 19 years, he has owned and operated a retail franchise "Learning Express Toys" in Fort Collins.  During these 19 years, he also served on the Franchise Advisory Council, Marketing Advisory Board, conducted cash flow and inventory management seminars at Learning Express Conventions.  He sold his business in July 2017. In addition, he has been a member of the Fort Collins Breakfast Rotary Club for the past 14 years, serving a variety of board positions including Community Service, PR and Membership.



 Thea Moeller

Thea Moeller, owner of Your Franchise Business, is a franchise consultant on a mission to match aspiring entrepreneurs with the best franchise option to exceed their goals.  She works with her clients from day one of dreaming to the actualization of their own business; providing research, education, resources, and support along the way.  Thea graduated from Cornell College, with bachelor’s degrees in Business & Economics, and Wellness.  After graduation, she spent over 10 years developing her knowledge in sales as a representative, specialist, trainer, and manager for large corporations.  Grateful for the experience, but dissatisfied with the growth limitations and having no work-life balance, she opened Your Franchise Business to help others seamlessly transition from employee to employer.