SBDC Template

Blog

2016 Larimer SBDC Annual Report

Tuesday, March 07, 2017
 

Mike O'Connell

Larimer SBDC Director      
2016 was a breakout year for the Larimer SBDC in terms of strategic partner relationships, consulting and economic impact metrics, and local awareness of our center. 

Early 2016 saw us coordinating and integrating with the restructured Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC).We are now working seamlessly together, with the SBDC acting as a key "content provider" to the LBDC. The LBDC team has worked very hard, and brought a lot of value to the Loveland small business community. During 2016, we added consulting availability in Berthoud and Wellington, so that entrepreneurs can access SBDC services at any municipality in Larimer County. 

In November, we worked with the East Colorado SBDC and the Colorado SBDC lead center to execute the inaugural Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference, held at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, which was a huge success with over 350 attendees. We also continue to manage the "Recovery Colorado" disaster recovery program, with the support of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation. This grant program has provided over $2.3M to 59 Estes Valley small businesses. 

Almost all of our 2016 metrics are record high numbers for our center. We consulted with 640 clients over nearly 3,500 consulting hours, more than double our 2013 client count, and almost triple our 2013 consulting hours. We also conducted 100 trainings/workshops, attended by over 1,000 entrepreneurs. 

The plan for 2017 is to " .. do it the same, but better .. ". We will be strongly promoting three of our higher-end programs to support growing existing businesses. We will support the Fort Collins and Loveland Start Up weeks in February and April. We will again execute the Women's Small Business Conference in November 2017. Most importantly, 2017 marks the 30th year that Front Range Community College (FRCC) has hosted and significantly sponsored the North Metro Denver and Larimer SBDC centers, and we will be conducting a major campaign throughout 2017 to say a huge "Thank You" to FRCC for their support of Northern Colorado entrepreneurs. 

We have a great well-connected team that makes it all of the above happen. Terri Donovan-Keirns manages the hundreds of consulting sessions and numerous classes with exceptional competence and thoroughness. Our administrator and FRCC graduate Kat Rico has really enhanced the "face" of both the North Metro Denver and Larimer through her marketing and social media skills. Our consulting network is strong, committed, and engaged, and the best its ever been, in my opinion. I also have the privilege of being the Co-Chair of the Larimer County Workforce Development Board (WDB) this year, which supports the critical and extensive work done by the Larimer County Workforce Center. 

2016 was a rewarding year, and I look forward to working with all of you in 2017! 

Mike O'Connell
Larimer SBDC Director

Read the Full Larimer SBDC 2016 Annual Report

Are Business Plans Dead?

Monday, April 27, 2015
by Kat Rico

Business plans have long been touted as the method for success if you are starting a new venture, but is the traditional business plan dead? Many entrepreneurs are intimidated by the idea of creating a document that can end up being in excess of 30 pages, let alone determining which sections they need and what goes in them. It’s also easy to assume that if you’re a small business (whatever your definition of small is), you don’t need a business plan, especially if you’re not seeking financing. 

So do you really need a business plan?
Short answer: Yes.


A business plan should be a guiding document for your business as a whole. It is not a static document that you create once, leave and never look at again. Your business plan should be what guides your vision and drives actions for all the decisions your business will make. Ideally, you should be revisiting your business plan at least annually, maybe even quarterly, to make sure you are on the right track. 

Does it need to be a massive 30 page document?
Short answer: Maybe not.

Not all businesses are the same, so it make sense that not all business plans need to be the same. Following are key elements you should have in any business plan, traditional or not:
Executive Summary – This is a short summary of what is in your plan, including what your vision for your business is, what your product or service is, and who will buy it. Do yourself a favor and write this section last, even though it is at the front of your plan.
Marketing Plan – Include information about the demographics of where you will be doing business and who your customers are, as well as how you will reach them (flyers, social media, website, events, etc.).
Operations – Give a snapshot of what the day-to-day practices of your business will look like, who will be your suppliers and who your key partners are.
Financials – This is arguably the most important part of your business plan. Where is the money coming from, where is it going, and how long will it take for your business to be profitable? Be honest about this section, overinflating numbers won’t do you any favors in the long run.
Goals – Use the SMART framework for setting your business goals for the next year, three years and five years out. This will help guide your decisions in the meantime and give you something to celebrate when you hit milestones.

While a traditional business plan may be overkill for some businesses, it is a very important guiding document, and the look of it will vary depending on how it is being used. You may even end up with two or three versions of it, one for you as the business owner, one to show to potential investors, and one for your management team.

Don’t let the process of writing this plan intimidate you! It is best that you, as the business owner, write this plan yourself as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you, because the plan will mean more to you in the end. There are templates available for free online to get you started, and the Larimer SBDC is here to help with free, confidential one-on-one consulting, as well as classes designed specifically to help you write a business plan.

August Ink

Friday, December 12, 2014

Andrea Daniel in the August Ink Studio
SBDC Success Story Client
 “I love the problem solving that comes with owning a business!”

Taking the leap into entrepreneurialism happens for many reasons and takes you down many roads, as Andrea Daniel has learned. After leaving a full-time job, Andrea decided to begin selling pillow covers on the handmade goods site Etsy, while searching for a job in an unstable economy. Despite a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in public administration, she had trouble finding employment. At the same time, what began as a creative outlet to fill the gap turned in to a business that she could do for a living. Her first business saw early success, but it wasn’t established correctly, which led her to the Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for direction. 

In February of 2014, she hit the reset button and took another running start at business ownership by registering August Ink, selling custom screen printed t-shirts online. Her reasoning for the product shift was, “Pillow covers are fun, but everyone loves t-shirts.” The SBDC was helpful for her to have accountability and a consultant to bounce ideas off of. “The SBDC helps put my business into a framework. I understand why I should make the decisions I do for my business, and working with my consultant helps me set goals.”

To start over as a business owner is difficult, but Andrea sees that as part of the challenge of business ownership that she enjoys. Day-to-day tests like having enough time and doing it all on your own are always there, but “I love the problem solving that comes with owning a business,” she says. Knowing other business owners has been a huge asset as well, not only for partnerships and collaborations, but because starting a business can be lonely.

Since opening August Ink, she has expanded beyond t-shirts to begin offering tote bags, printed artwork and drink koozies, one of which was featured on BuzzFeed that gave her a great confidence boost. Her products feature inspirational messages and are her creative outlet that communicates her optimistic view on life. “I struggle… It’s a good struggle and it’s so worth it. At the end of the day, you’re putting yourself out there.” When you look through her store, you can see little bits of her personality, from a love of the Fort Collins community, to quotes from the show “Parks and Rec” and author J.R.R. Tolkien.

For now, her business is based out of her home studio, where she handles everything from design to printing to shipping, but Andrea is excited for what the future will bring for her business. She is especially excited about the possibility of opening a retail store front to contribute to the vibrant Fort Collins business community, as well as hiring her first employees. “It’s an exciting time for women and entrepreneurs. You’ve got to make your own way, and when you do, you can do awesome things!”

Story written by: Kat Rico
Photo credits: Andrea Daniel and Becky Young Photography

Larimer SBDC Increased Consulting in First Half of 2014 by 62%

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provided 1304 hours of free confidential consulting for its clients in the first half of 2014, a 62% increase over first half 2013 hours.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the last year to reach out to the business community, and let them know we can be a productive resource . Our consultants have done a great job of delivering value to the 284 clients we’ve served so far this year.”, says Mike O’Connell, Larimer SBDC Director.

Terri Donovan-Keirns, Larimer SBDC Program Coordinator, adds “ we’ve brought in some consultants with specific skill sets to help our clients. We’ve added two restaurant/food consultants, a supply chain expert, and more marketing specialists. We also have beverage/distillery and construction experts going through our consulting accreditation process, and they should be on-board shortly.”

The Larimer SBDC provides free confidential consulting and a wide range of low-cost business workshops.  The Larimer SBDC is hosted locally by Front Range Community College, and sponsored by the SBA, City of Fort Collins Economic Health Office, First National Bank, and others. The Larimer SBDC recently relocated into The Innosphere business incubator at 320 East Vine Street, Fort Collins.

VOTE FOR US - FT COLLINS CALL TO ACTION

Friday, May 23, 2014


CALL TO ACTION:
Help us Help You!
The City of Fort Collins has started its 2015/2016 budget process, and is generously and appropriately proposing a $40K per year "offer" for Larimer SBDC support. Our SBDC offer will compete with many other offers for final funding.
WE ARE ASKING YOU TO GO TO THE CITY'S WEBSITE BY WEDNESDAY MAY 28th TO REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR SBDC, so we can continue and grow our free confidential consulting and wide range of business classes to support your local small business. It's quick and easy, and here are the 5 steps needed...

Step 1Like us on Facebook
Step 2
CLICK ON THE "ECONOMIC HEALTH" TAB (after you do this, you should be in the "enhancements" section, not the "ongoing" section).

Step 3
Page down to Offer #46.7, Support Larimer SBDC, and CLICK ON THE GREEN DOT.

Step 4
INPUT YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS (required), and add any comments if you desire (optional).

Step 5
HIT THE GREEN "SUBMIT YOUR 
INPUT" BUTTON.


That's it! Two minutes of your time by Wednesday May 28th will help us immensely! Thank you so much for your help and support of your SBDC !!

Thank you for your help!

Mike O'Connell                                          Terri Donovan-Keirns
Larimer SBDC Director                              Larimer SBDC Coordinator
mike@larimersbdc.org                              terri@larimersbdc.org
970-215-2300                                            970-498-9295