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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.


Colorado Enterprise Fund Launches Veteran Loan Program - VALOR

Monday, November 06, 2017

CEF Launches Small Business Loan Program for Veterans – VALOR

The Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) has received notification that the Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is launching a new small business loan program for veterans. The loan program, created to support U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Families (surviving spouses and children of veterans) in Colorado, will officially launch on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017.

Veteran Access Loan Opportunity Resource (VALOR) will provide discounted loan rates and extended terms for military veterans who are unable to secure financing through traditional banks. The VALOR loan program offers loan amounts up to $500,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and purchases of commercial real estate. The program offers a loan rate that is discounted 2% from standard CEF rates with loan terms of up to 10 years and interest-only periods of up to six months.

One in 10 businesses are veteran-owned businesses, and those businesses employ six million workers, generating $1.2 trillion in annual receipts, according to the Small Business Administration, or SBA.

Previously, the SBA offered two loan programs that were created specifically for veteran-owned businesses: the Patriot Express Loan (which expired in 2013) and the SBA Veterans Advantage Loan Program (which expired in October 2014). It is exciting to see that CEF is introducing this new program during National Veterans Small Business Week (Oct. 30 through Nov. 3). Although CEF has not previously offered a formal program for military veterans and their families, over the past two decades, CEF has provided 30 loans to veterans in Colorado totaling $1.2 million. These loans have created 200 jobs and allowed for the retention of nearly 100 jobs statewide.

Those interested in applying for the VALOR loan program can apply online via the CEF website and/or can contact Mike Jensen, CEF senior loan officer and U.S. Army veteran, at mike@coloradoenterprisefund.org. CEF is a community partner of the Loveland Business Development Center. LBDC clients can schedule an appointment with Lewis Hagler, CEF director of credit, at the LBDC office on Wednesday afternoons.

The Loveland Business Development Center offers free business counseling and low cost workshops to Loveland residents and businesses.

 

About Colorado Enterprise Fund
Founded in 1976, Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) provides loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and startups unable to obtain funding through traditional banks. With a mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, CEF has provided over $64 million in loans to more than 2,000 businesses to help create or retain over 17,000 jobs in the state. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CEF is based in Denver with a satellite office in Fort Collins. CEF’s lending and consulting services are available statewide. For more information, visit: www.coloradoenterprisefund.org

O'Connell Speaking at National SBDC Conference

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mike O'Connell, Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director, will be a presenter at the National SBDC conference in September, in Nashville Tennessee. Over 1400 small business development professionals attend this annual conference to sharpen their consulting skills, and learn about useful entrepreneurial resources. O'Connell will present “My Top Six Ways That Businesses Get Into Trouble”. This information was also featured in BizWest magazine’s May 2017 edition.