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SBDC Day - March 21, 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Celebration of SBDC Day set for March 21, 2018

Businesses have always celebrated ribbon cuttings, grand openings and company anniversaries, and for a second year they’ll be able to celebrate the people who help them turn their dreams into reality – Small Business Development Centers.  America’s SBDC Day is set for March 21, 2018, a day that will unite nearly 1,000 SBDCs across the country and the hundreds of thousands of clients they’ve served in their near 40-year history.

SBDC Day is a national proclamation of the success of America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) on the success of the nation’s dreamers, innovators and doers – America’s small businesses. 

“It’s great to see SBDCs, their clients and supporters come together to celebrate SBDCs and their amazing clients. With SBDC support small businesses around the country raised over $5 billion in capital and created nearly 100,000 jobs,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, President & CEO of America’s SBDC.

Since 1980, 63 state and regional Small Business Development Center networks have provided free one-on-one consulting to small businesses at nearly 1,000 locations throughout the nation. A new business is opened with the assistance of the SBDC around the country every 30 minutes; a new job is created every 5.5 minutes; more than $100,000 in new sales are generated every 8.2 minutes, and small businesses are able to obtain more than $100,000 in capital every 10 minutes. 

America’s SBDC network is a partnership that includes the U.S. Congress, SBA, the private sector, and the colleges, universities and state governments that manage SBDCs across the nation. SBDCs provide management and technical assistance to an estimated one million small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs each year. Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can go to their local SBDCs for free, face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on writing business plans, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, international trade and more.

Small businesses, partners, and advocates are invited to help spread the word about SBDC Day using the hashtag #SBDCDay. On March 21, participants are encouraged to share how their local SBDC has created a difference in their life and community. SBDCs nationwide will collectively share, in real time, the success stories and notable impacts SBDCs collectively have on the small business community at large. This special day will also be celebrated through public relations initiates, campaigns, and online and in-person events.

For more information about America's SBDC and the services they provide visit https://americassbdc.org/


Consultant Spotlight - Nikki Larchar

Monday, March 05, 2018
This month, we turn the Consultant Spotlight on Nikki Larchar, Co-founder of simplyHR. Nikki specializes in all things human resources and employee-related challenges. 

Nikki brings a unique blend of work experience, ranging from managing employees at both small and large establishments to consulting business owners with all of their human resource needs. With over five years of work experience in human resources and over ten years of her career dedicated to managing teams, Nikki has experienced human resources both at the front lines of a business and as a consultant to business owners. 

Partnering with business owners has provided Nikki with a sense of fulfillment. With an enthusiastic attitude and a SHRM-CP certification, she is eager to help your work family! In her free time, Nikki enjoys trying new restaurants and breweries in Fort Collins, taking her dog Albert for long walks, and playing music with her husband (she plays guitar and sings). 

5 Questions for Nikki Larchar:

1) What's new with you and your business?  We are currently working on a harassment training tool in the form of a comic book! We are so excited to bring a fresh and innovative approach to the way that business owners, managers, and HR departments provide workplace harassment training. We're also going to be crowdfunding the project, which is a new adventure for us. We also recently updated our website to have a client login. We are now able to provide the most up to date forms and documents and keep our clients updated on the latest HR rules and trends.   

2) Biggest Human Resources issues for 2018?  Harassment training and prevention is most certainly high on the list. We are also seeing a lot of questions come in around marijuana use, remote workers, and as always, the continued updates to rules and regulations that can sneak in during the year.

3) What do you enjoy most about consulting?   I love getting to know other business owners, find out what they do, and then offer my help in the best way possible. HR can be a tricky subject so I love when I get to work with other entrepreneurs to talk about how HR impacts their business.

4) Favorite St. Patrick's Day activities in Ft. Collins?  Since I live and work near Old Town and I love going out and getting at least one green beer, it's only St. Patrick's Day once a year! And I'm pretty sure if I was drinking green beer on any other day, people might look at me weird.    

5) One piece of advice for anyone looking to start a new business? Get ready to make mistakes! The beauty of entrepreneurship is that we get to try things out and if it doesn't work we can change it. So get ready to make mistakes, to change and adapt, and to have fun while doing it!

Find out more about Nikki Larchar and her business at simplyHR


IRS Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop

Friday, March 02, 2018


As the 2018 filing season gets underway, small business and self-employed individuals can find helpful tax-related information through the IRS Video Portal. The portal contains videos and webinars of small-business tax topics, including the popular Small Business Taxes: the Virtual Workshop.




Avid Product Development

Friday, February 09, 2018
It takes a little help from our friends
--For this Loveland business, partnership liberated growth and made work fun again


Owners, Ryan Billson and Doug Collins


Consulting businesses are often lonely endeavors, constrained by the experience, capacity, and moxie of the owner. When opportunity knocks – in the guise of new technologies, more customers, or economic expansion – many consultants choke, not willing to do what’s necessary to grow.

When Doug Collins, owner of Loveland’s Avid Product Development reached that point, it was the opportunities new 3D Printing technology offered that crystalized the dilemma.

“I had a good clientele, a good mix of projects and in 2013 I brought on the additive piece,” Collins said. “It was small for a while, but then I was getting crushed.”

It was go big or go back. Collins chose to find a partner and grow. He had known Ryan Billson since college and Billson’s Lafayette, CO engineering firm was one of Collins’ clients.

Billson, because he had worked for a firm that grew, went through mergers and took private investment, had a valuable set of skills and experience to bring to Avid. He managed teams, directed, and worked as COO for the company that at some points exceeded 100 employees.

Turning to the business development program in Loveland to help with the transition, Avid “got expertise from people who helped us valuate the business, and advice on the whole pre-nuptial process,” Collins said.

Avid’s current LBDC/Larimer SBDC consultant, Bob Coffey, helps with financials, asks questions, looks at the numbers, gets on them when they don’t have their numbers ready.

“Bob helps us with accountability, looking ahead and finding workarounds – what we should be focusing on. How to grow, how to know when to hire, all those tough challenges,” Collins said.

A major leap in the business took place in 2017 with investment in 3D printing capabilities that dramatically expanded with the company’s purchase of a new HP Multi-Jet 3D printer. The investment was made possible by an SBA loan.

Since then, Collins says, “We’re in a whole new phase, we’ve got a new list of what we don’t know we don’t know.”

Billson agrees: “Within two years we will also have more capability with injection molding—that’s in addition to the engineering, and the additive manufacturing for prototyping. It’s a great niche. Injection molding will give us the capability for higher-volume manufacturing.”

“LBDC/SBDC resources have been great. We go off and do our thing. Then, Bob (Coffey) pops up and reminds us of stuff we should be looking for, and helps us out,” Collins says.

“It (the LBDC/SBDC) really has helped us all along the way as a sounding board,” said Billson. “Being able to talk through everything from putting the business partnership together through the quarterly reports we’re now doing, we’re able to have Bob come in now and let us know ‘yeah you guys are on track, this is fantastic’ or ‘you need to watch out for this here’ it’s been really good, really helpful.”

For more information about Avid Product Development, see the website www.avidpd.com or contact Doug Collins directly at dcollins@avidpd.com.


Interview conducted November 10, 2017 at Avid’s location at 129 S. Cleveland Ave., in Loveland.
Author Lee Porter is a Loveland resident, a long-time SBDC counselor and publisher of InnovatioNews.


Techstars Startup Week Ft. Collins 2018

Friday, February 02, 2018



Are you hungry for more information to make your business aspirations come true? 

Be part of Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins, a free, five-day celebration of our community that builds momentum and opportunity around entrepreneurship.  Startup Week returns to Fort Collins February 23rd - March 2nd with over 130+ business sessions, discussion panels, professional development and start up workshops being offered throughout Downtown Fort Collins.  

The week will offer opportunities for one-on-one consulting with Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and hands on sessions about business plans and business model canvas.  Many tools will be offered for startups, cutting edge trends will be discussed and the week offers many opportunities for networking.   The week’s programming will also feature “Artup Week” which will showcase 40+ creative industry focused sessions designed for the music industry, artists, and culinary creatives.  Technology and invention will be showcased through many sessions including ones on virtual reality, coding and drones just to name a few.  

Whether you are a startup, an established business or simply have an idea - Startup Week Fort Collins has something for you. Register in advance online and RSVP to save your seat at any number of the 130+ free sessions! 

2018 Employee Tax Reform Information

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
With the new tax reform, comes new tax tables for employees. Employers should begin using the new tax withholdings as soon as possible, but no later than February 15, 2018. Although you are not required to have employees fill out a new W-4, you should consider letting the employee know that their taxes might change and therefore their paycheck may be affected. If they would like to change their withholding information, have them fill out a new W-4. The 2018 W-4 has not been released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

As a reminder: Employers should not provide tax advice to employees. Let the employee know that they should talk to a tax professional if they are unsure what they should withhold. 

Additional information about the new tax tables can be found here:

These helpful tips provided by Nikki Larchar, Co-Founder & HR Business Partner, simplyHR











Consultant Spotlight - Sari Kimbell

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Each month we will be featuring one of our consultants in the Consultant Spotlight. This will be an opportunity for you to get to know a little more about our consultants and how special they are to the Larimer SBDC, our clients and the community. Along with a short background bio on each consultant, we will also ask each of them our 5 Questions that give insight to their particular industry, experience or personal interests. 

This month, we turn the spotlight on Sari Kimbell, Founder & CEO of Cultivate. Sari is one of our newest consultants and she specializes in the food and restaurant industry, as well as being a business owner herself.

Sari Kimbell brings over 20 years of experience in the food industry to the SBDC to work with food-related businesses including value-added product makers, growers and service-based establishments such as restaurants, food trucks and caterers looking to start or expand their business.  Her experience in farming, purchasing, wholesale, grocery retail, restaurant front and back of the house, starting her own food business and managing a commissary kitchen gives her an understanding of the food industry as a whole. Sari is knowledgeable and experienced in supply chain management, licenses, certifications, profitability, retail and wholesale distribution, packaging, e-commerce, marketing, branding, and sales strategies. 
 
Sari has combined her passion for the food industry with her marketing, event planning and graphic design skills to create a unique niche for her own consulting company working with startups, established businesses and non-profits.  Her passion is working with food business start-ups, helping them navigate the business development cycle to launch successfully and business ready to grow and take their business to the next level.

5 Questions for Sari Kimbell:

1) What's new with you?  I am thrilled to be a key part of Fort Collins Start Up Week as the content captain, in collaboration with the Northern Colorado Food Cluster, for the food track sessions.  I have been busy pulling together great panelists for session, fine-tuning my own presentation on growing a food business and organizing 10 food pop-ups throughout the week.   


2) Thoughts on the food/restaurant industry for 2018?  2018 will bring some big legislative changes for restaurants around food safety and food labeling changes for value-added food products.  Aside from this, the future is bright for food businesses.  Customers continue to want more transparency in their food whether it is local or non-processed, from scratch ingredients or menu options and they are willing to pay for it. Understanding your market and setting yourself apart with a defensibly unique stance is key to capturing sales in the food and restaurant industries.


3) What do you enjoy most about consulting?  It is so rewarding to see growth over time.  Some clients make leaps and bounds in weeks or months and some are on a slower timeline.  Neither is better or worse, it is forward progress that is important.  I love seeing many of my clients out in social settings, because food is social, and hearing the latest update.  We are so fortunate to have a thriving local food scene and I am honored to be a part of it.


4) Favorite restaurants in Ft. Collins?  Right now I am really loving Emporium in The Elizabeth Hotel.  I love that they have duck liver mousse and a lardon salad.  I lived in Paris for six months and the menu and decor bring me back to lazy afternoons spent in brasseries.  You also can't beat the view or cocktails after dinner upstairs in the Sunset Lounge with Mark Sloniker playing Jazz in the background.    


5) One piece of advice for anyone looking to start a new food/restaurant business? As I said before, know your target market inside and out and be able to defend your unique selling point.  If you are going to start a salsa company, which I don't recommend, it has to stand out as different enough that people just have to try in an over-saturated market.  Also, this is connected, people like to try new things in small doses, so help ease them into your unique product or menu by relating it to something they know. Don't afraid to step out of the norm a little bit, but no so much that it is way outside of people's comfort zones; only 10% of the population are early adopters and a food business will need more than that to make it.  For example, don’t start a restaurant with the craziest trend in Korean street food like edible insects.  Instead introduce one menu item that incorporates an element of that trend that is relateable. That said, when you can coax customers into trying something new, they LOVE to Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and tell others about the great new cricket meatballs they just ate. Finding the balance is not an easy task, but it is achievable. 

Find out more about Sari Kimbell and her mission at Cultivate




Peggy Lyle - 2017 Consultant of the Year

Friday, January 05, 2018
Peggy Lyle receives the Consultant of the Year Award from Mike O'Connell, Larimer SBDC Director

Peggy Lyle was presented with the award for 2017 Consultant of the Year for the Larimer SBDC at an Innosphere event held in December.  She is the director of Downtown Fort Collins Creative District and is heavily involved with ArtUpWeek, which is a part of 2018 StartUpWeek Fort Collins.  Peggy started as an SBDC consultant about 1½ years ago as a creative consultant and she has been a huge asset to the SBDC and the creative clients she works with since that time.

The terminology used in the business world does not always resonate with creative entrepreneurs.  Peggy translates business strategy into language and actionable items the creative business owners can successfully implement.  She is especially good with helping creatives with their branding, marketing and promotion of their business.  Peggy is an adventurer, a connector and an idea creator.  And this essence of who Peggy is, engages her with her creative clients making a lasting impact.

In addition to the one-on-one consulting, Peggy is also our creative champion for helping organize, promote and implement our industry specific events for the creative community. She describes herself as passionate and energized to work on projects that benefit the larger community.
  
With her great energy, passion and dedication, there is no doubt that we will successfully and easily have several great, well-attended creative events in 2018. Thank you, Peggy, for who you are and everything you do!




The Cooking Studio

Friday, December 08, 2017


Owner, Trish O'Neill

Unleash Your Inner Chef!
Story & Photos courtesy Sharon Long and Trish O'Neill

Fifteen years ago, Trish O’Neill took her first cooking class and she was hooked! She began cooking inspired meals from scratch and it soon became her passion. Over the next 15 years she traveled for her career, all the while taking cooking classes as a hobby while on her travels. This cultivated the idea that would eventually bring Trish and her talent to Fort Collins to open The Cooking Studio, a place for amateur cooks, corporate teams, kids, couples, and even aspiring bakers to learn, explore, and unleash their inner chef.

The idea would take a lot of preparation to bring into fruition. Trish approached the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2014 to learn about opening a small business. She spent countless hours of training and consulting before successfully launching her business in September 2015. 

“We have a lot of fun (at The Cooking Studio) with the kid’s programs, date nights, private parties, corporate events, team building and, cooking competitions”. The classes attract young professionals as well as empty-nesters and has become a very popular environment for everyone to learn new techniques while cooking different cuisines. The relaxed and comfortable environment helps all the students get to know one another.

“Sitting down to dinner in The Cooking Studio is amazing! We have students from all walks of life: ranchers, professors, entrepreneurs, physicians & nurses, scientists, poets, artists, Ph.D.’s, and even a magician and a Police Chief. With all these people coming together to eat a (delicious!) menu created by the Chef and cooked in class, you can just imagine how fantastic the conversations are. It’s an unparalleled experience. And we host classes for aspiring home cooks as young as 8 old all the way up to 90 years old. There is a place for everyone at the Cooking Studio!”

The Cooking Studio has a team of local professional chefs who teach the classes. These talented Chefs share tips and tricks from their restaurant and catering experiences, project manage the cooking, make sure all the recipes come out delicious and that all the cooking activities go smoothly. The typical class size is 12 but can go as high as 20 people.

There are a few rules The Cooking Studio enforces in the classes.

      1. All food is made from scratch.
      2. Everything must be delicious.
      3. No one is allowed to voice an opinion about what other people eat. There is no ‘normal’ way of eating and, in all our classes, we find a menu to fit all the students.

Trish keeps in contact with the SBDC on a regular basis to continue the progress on her business. Since opening in 2015, business is going strong with year over year revenues steadily increasing. In fact 2017 revenues are 60% over 2016! Working with the SBDC has helped keep Trish accountable on an ongoing basis and to be successful.

Want to know more about this culinary playground? Checkout the website at www.the-cooking-studio.com. Which class will help you unleash your inner chef?

Supporting Ft. Collins Small Business at Jessup Farm

Monday, November 27, 2017

Larimer SBDC director, Mike O'Connell, along with Ft. Collins Mayor, Wade Troxell and Frances Padilla, SBA Colorado District Director, paid a visit to a few local businesses as a show of support for Small Business Saturday.  His visit included stops at Bindle Coffee, HeyDey and Knapsack located in the Jessup Farm Artisan Village development in Southeast Ft. Collins. More information on these local businesses, as well as the many others in the Jessup Farm development, can be found on their website at Jessup Farm Artisan Village

Pictured (left to right): Mike O'Connell, Frances Padilla, Wade Troxell and Andrew Webb, Co-owner of Bindle Coffee

Pictured (left to right): Frances Padilla, Jennifer Little, Owner of HeyDey and Knapsack, Mike O'Connell and Wade Troxell.