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7 Incredible Facts About Women Owned Businesses

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Information provided by: CreditLoan

There are a dozen different reasons why women prefer to work in an environment that is surrounded by fellow women. For one, there are more benefits and leaves given to them in a company that understands that employees or spouses get sick. In a patriarchal environment, the set up for taking time off is so rigid and strict that women often have to go in when they are sick. The work schedule is not flexible at all, and there is usually no option to work from home on days when the employee is needed at home.

As a result, women who are unable to find nannies or suitable child care for their kids are forced to resign from work or find another job with a better arrangement - often below their skillset or totally out of their comfort zones.

When women create companies and establish businesses, they take these things to mind and adapt a completely different set up in the company. For example, they allow female employees to bring their kids to work, which has a day care center with qualified staff. The infants can be breastfed or visited during breaks since they are just a few rooms away from their mothers.

In case a child is ill and needs supervision, the parents can file for work from home and continue dispensing their duties and tasks even while not physically present at the office. This is important because it means that their job security is not threatened by them not being around, and they still receive pay while working at home.

We've prepared an infographic discussing incredible facts about women owned businesses to continue to inspire women who want to make a difference in the world. We hope it inspires you too!


Is Your Point of Sale System Secure and Effective?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Retail Industry: Is Your Point of Sale System Secure and Effective?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

If you’re a retail business in 2017, chances are you’ve got some sort of electronic Point of Sale (POS) system. It might be stationary in your brick and mortar location, you may be an online retailer with a virtual POS, and if you do events you’ve probably got a mobile POS. This technology is great, but it comes with a unique set of challenges related to not only operation, but security. We have an important question for you: Is your POS system secure and effective?

          How do you know?

Without getting a degree in cybersecurity, it can be difficult to understand and keep pace with all the changes in payment processing and data security, especially for retailers who have so many other concerns on their plates. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 8% of data breeches occur within the retail industry, not accounting for credit card company breeches. These breeches put customers’ financial data at risk, and damage consumer confidence in the businesses they shop with. While large retailers make the headlines because of the volume of data compromised in these breeches, small retailers also need to be aware of what they can do to protect their customers’ information.

Join us for our next Small Business After Hours as Ali Harris, Founder and Managing Consultant for Technical Framework, discusses what small retailers need to know about POS systems and cybersecurity. He’ll provide a high level overview of different types of POS systems, how the information they collect travels, security issues this creates, and more. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions from an expert in the IT field and network with other retailers.


Our Presenter

Ali Harris - Technical Framework

Ali is a veteran of the IT world with over 20 years of experience in technology services for small- and medium-sized businesses ranging from five to 300 employees.  Ali founded Technical Framework, an all services provider of computers, networks and secure technology business solutions, in 2010.   Ali’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems from University of Phoenix.  In his leisure time, Ali enjoys watching sports and studying emerging technologies for business.  




Veterans Day 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ron O'Herron


On Friday, November 11th, once again we celebrate Veterans Day.  As a proud Veteran, this day always holds special meanings for me and I traditionally send out my thoughts to share with anyone who cares to read them.  Sometimes the memories seem like only yesterday that I served under the Stars and Stripes. I keep thinking that it will get easier for me to write this, but it never does and this year is no exception as I reflect back on the Hero’s  that I had the honor to serve with who paid the ultimate price for freedom.  Turning 70 this past July brought about a lot of memories of days gone by.  My family decided I needed a big celebration and looking at the many old photos that they had assembled, I found myself reflecting back to those friends that I have lost.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone who has not experienced the ugliness of an armed conflict and the lasting scars it leaves, to truly understand what it is like.  I thank God every day for the commitment and sacrifice made by those serving our country and their families.  When I see professional athletes refuse to stand for our National Anthem, I do my best to understand their protest; however, will never condone their method.  The American Flag, a symbol that I proudly served under, is stained with the blood of thousands who gave their all to keep it flying over this Great Country.  They were not paid millions of dollars to do it and the game they were involved in was played with bullets and not balls.  Now that I have got that off my chest, I respectfully ask you to take time to thank a Veteran and remember those that gave their all for this Country.  They served so that others would not have to. 

Thanks You.  Have a great Veteran’s Day and God Bless America.



City of Fort Collins Community Development Scholarship

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
By Stu Crair


The City of Fort Collins (CFC) and Digital Workshop Center (DWC) have announced a $10,000 partnered scholarship opportunity for the residents of Fort Collins.  Named the ‘Community Development Scholarship’, the goal of this scholarship is to “help individuals and professionals to close the technology skills gaps that may exist in the Fort Collins workplace.”

Awards for this scholarship will be primarily divided amongst several sections of the local workforce: non-profits, teachers/educators, job seekers/unemployed/under-employed, and business professionals seeking career transition.

The City of Fort Collins’ Economic Health Office has generously provided $5,000 of scholarship funds to be distributed.  In addition, Digital Workshop Center is matching this $5,000 amount for a total award of scholarship funds available set at $10,000.  Award amounts will range from $250 to $1000 per individual.

“As more educational and work opportunities require technology skills, the City and Digital Workshop Center are excited to partner to provide educational access to a broader segment of our community,” said Jacqueline Kozak-Thiel, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Fort Collins. “We want to ensure that we’re bridging the financial gap for those in our community who are seeking personal improvement and upward skills mobility.”
According to Stu Crair, owner of Digital Workshop Center, this scholarship “is designed to help as many people as possible within our local community who are seeking to improve their technology skills.  There is a serious skills gap between the local workforce and the companies hiring in Fort Collins.  We hope this scholarship will help improve the talent of the local applicant pool as our city continues to grow."

The application process will begin on November 1st and close on December 1st. Interested applicants may apply online at DigitalWorkshopCenter.com/scholarship.  A panel of DWC staff and local professional development experts will review all applications and final decisions made in mid-December.

Complete rules and requirements for eligibility are listed on the scholarship website page.

Founded in 2006, Digital Workshop Center is a locally-owned private occupational school, Adobe Authorized Training Center, and coworking hub with locations in Fort Collins, Denver, and online.  DWC offers professional development and training classes on design software programs, desktop applications, business solutions and advanced computer training concepts.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Liz White at 970-980-8091 or email at liz@digitalworkshopcenter.com.

EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the release of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation (https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-funding-opportunities) to support the development and commercialization of innovative environmental technologies. The solicitation is posted on FedConnect, and all applications must be submitted through this electronic system.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participates in the SBIR Program as a result of the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: air and climate, manufacturing, toxic chemicals, water, water and homeland security, and greener buildings. See the full solicitation for specific subtopics under each topic area and for details on how to apply. Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, up to $300,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.

For general information on how to apply, visit https://www.epa.gov/sbir/how-apply-sbir-contract.


Missed the June 14, 2016, webinar on how to apply for the 2016 EPA SBIR Phase I Solicitation? Learn more: https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-special-announcements

The EPA SBIR Program is part of EPA's Sustainable and Healthy (SHC) research program.

Larimer SBDC Success Story - New Ownership, Same Great Service, Same Great Team

Thursday, September 29, 2016
New Ownership, Same Great Service, Same Great Team

Owners: Tim & Julie Kenney
Story & Photography: Kat Rico


In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to the customers and community. They learned that Tim and Lisa Clay were considering selling their store located on Harmony Road in Fort Collins, however the Clays cared deeply about their employees and customers and only wanted to sell to someone with the same values. Tim appreciated this and said, “It’s the idea that people are coming to our store for more than an item.” 

Tim began investigating the Ace Hardware franchise model and discovered it was a cooperative, meaning each store is locally owned, but they still have a national organization with one vote per store. The franchise is particular about the owners it selects, and he went through the process, discovering the support the model offered along the way. Outside of the support from the franchise, Tim made his way in to the SBDC for consulting on the purchase process. The purchase took about a year to complete.

A key recommendation from one of the SBDC consultants was that he simply work in the business for the first few months of the transition. “We were focused on continuing the path of success of the previous owners and made no changes for the first six months,” said Tim. The store is classified a supercenter based on sheer size, with 17,000 square feet of retail space and a team of 31 people. There are approximately 13 full time employees, and the core group of employees have been with the store between 5 to 13 years. By heeding this advice, the Kenney’s were able to make the ownership transition and maintained 100% employee retention. “It’s the same great service with the same great team,” Tim says proudly.

The store remains deeply rooted in the community and regularly hosts fundraisers in it parking lots for local high school clubs, sports teams and others. They strive to maintain a welcoming attitude and create a fun environment with these events, an element other stores struggle to emulate. There are over a dozen events each year at the store.

Tim is excited for the future of the store and the possibilities of expansion. As he has come to understand the history and culture of the store, he has faced challenges, but with the support of the Ace franchise and SBDC consultants the ownership transition has been a success. 

Franchise Expo West Bringing Business Opportunities to Colorado

Friday, September 23, 2016
By Jim Mastandrea of MFV Expositions

Many have considered starting their own businesses. Yet, fear of the financial risk and going at it alone keep most from making that happen.

What many fail to consider is becoming a franchise owner. With franchising, people have a built-in support system, a company behind them, a proven brand, financial help, training and more. When people start their own company alone, they usually make mistakes, but as a franchisee, the company keeps you from those mistakes.

The success of the franchise business model is backed up by impressive statistics too.
• According to the International Franchise Association, in 2016 franchises count for more than 801,000 establishments representing 2.3% of all businesses in the U.S.
• Franchised businesses provided more than 90.1 million jobs in 2016 – a greater number of jobs than all manufacturers of durable goods, such as computers, cars, trucks, planes, communications equipment, primary metals, wood products, and instruments.
• Colorado boasts more than 16,000 franchised establishments, with more than 171,000 jobs in the state being a result of franchised businesses (10.7% of Colorado jobs).
Denver will soon be the epicenter of franchise opportunities as thousands of entrepreneurs gather for Franchise Expo West at the Colorado Convention Center Thursday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Potential business owners will have the rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with executives from more than 200 franchise brands at nearly every investment level in a multitude of industries.

Follow these three tips to make your time at Franchise Expo West a success:
1. Look and learn. Look into the hottest trends in the franchise industry - ranging from restaurants and fitness clubs to auto repairs and pet supply stores - as attendees explore the vast, emerging, international, and mature franchise opportunities ranging from as little as a $10,000 investment up to $1 million+. You can already start checking out which companies are exhibiting and make a list of those that interest you.

Take advantage of the more than 60 free seminars, five in-depth workshops, and three specialty seminars being held throughout the three-day event. These educational opportunities, most of them free, will help you make the right decisions during your franchise research.

2. Ask questions.
It’s important to meet and ask questions of the company executives, so go with the intention of speaking to, and not just looking at, the franchisors. View this as an interview, not merely a chance to stock up on free pens and stress balls. Have a short list of questions that you will ask each prospect. Some questions worth considering may include: the initial investment and on-going payments required; the amount of support and training provided new franchisees and then ongoing; range of product or service offerings; locations that are available; current franchisees’ earnings; how many franchisees are in business five years after opening; what’s the biggest reason for a franchise success and failure.

3. Review requirements. After the festival, take the time to review your notes and the literature that you collected. It’s probable that you will have eliminated a few of your original prospects, confirmed your interest in several others, and added a few new companies into the mix. As soon as possible after the event, schedule follow-up meetings to learn more about those franchisors that are still in contention.

For the past four years, Franchise Expo West was held in Anaheim, Calif. Last year, more than 8,000 attendees from 35 states and 24 countries attended, and this year, even more are expected.

Franchise Expo West costs $10 to register in advance and $20 at the door, but those who register at www.franchiseexpowest.com and use promo code OPR can receive one complimentary pass to attend the show. On-site registration is also available, but pre-registration is recommended. 


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About the Author: Jim Mastandrea is Group Show Director for MFV Expositions. Call him at 201-881-1626 or send him an email jmastandrea@mfvexpo.com for additional information. Please visit www.mfvexpo.com for more information on franchise expos.

10 Amazing Ways to Motivate Your Retail Sales Team

Thursday, September 01, 2016

10 Amazing Ways to Motivate Your Retail Sales Team

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
4:00 - 6:00 pm
Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)


It's true. 30- 40% of most retailer's sales are done during the Holiday season.
Are you ready?
Have you set the goals for your team?
Thought of contest ideas?
How do you engage your sales team to sell more?
What will set your store apart from your competition?


We will talk about these questions and more when we explore 10 amazing ways to motivate your retail sales team to have the best holiday ever. Be ready to engage with your fellow retailers in this interactive, fun session about how to make the holidays a very special, rewarding season for you, your team and your customers.


Our Presenter

 
Annette Pedersen - Summit View Retail Solutions 


After spending over 30 years in the specialty women's and men's apparel business, Annette Pedersen decided to take her passion for training and retail knowledge to independent retailers throughout the United States. As a regional vice president for a national women's retailer she was responsible for up to 120 store locations and prided herself in building revenue and sales by focusing on the development of teams, providing training in leadership, merchandising/display, hiring/training, mastery of customer service, marketing and inventory management. Having graduated with a Masters in Organizational Leadership, she has much to teach and share with others. Additionally, she can relate firsthand with the struggles of independent retailers since she owns her own better women's consignment boutique. Her retailing consulting firm, Summit View Retail Solutions, strives to build financial security for independent retailers by providing them the best expertise in the industry.




Small Business After Hours - Food Trends

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Food Trends

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
4:00 - 6:00 pm
Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)
You’ve probably tried “savory” yogurts by Chobani and Larimer County’s own Noosa Yogurt, but have you tried algae? Do you know what Poke is? How about Baobab? Hear about new ethnic flavors that trend-setting restaurants are promoting.

Get the latest info on gluten-free, non-GMO, and organic food trends, including the demand for better nutritional transparency and labeling, not just at home but in restaurants and commercial institutions as well. What does a “clear label” mean? What is the impact on the business owner from these customer expectations?

More and more customers are seeking better nutrition, and better nutritional information. What expectations does this create for the food business? How should the business operator respond?


Our Panelists

 
Ashley Colpaart - The Food Corridor 


Ashley is the Founder and CEO of The Food Corridor, a virtual food hub that provides real-time search and discovery, online booking, financial transactions, specificity and fit, and user verification to enable food businesses access to commercial kitchen spaces they need.

The Food Corridor is the first food technology start-up aiming to regionalize food systems through reducing redundancy, increasing efficiencies, and providing a seamless user interface for any user seeking out commercial kitchens, commissaries, processing, co-packing and food storage spaces. At the same time, we allow institutions and businesses to more effectively utilize their assets, providing additional revenue streams to commissaries, schools, food banks, churches, restaurants and more.

 
Betsy Craig - MenuTrinfo


Betsy Craig an Award Wining, expert in the food service industry on menu labeling and trends with a passion for those with special dietary needs. She is the CEO and the Founder of MenuTrinfo®, LLC and AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo, LLC, a leading company providing accredited nutrition & food allergy solutions. Her expertise extends to food safety, managing food allergens in the food service space and Gluten-free solutions thanks to AllerTrain. The nations only ANSI accredited training for food service for food allergies. Betsy writes for many national publications and a much sought after speaker in the hospitality industry.

 
 Tina Mooney - The Fox & The Crow


In November 2014, Tina opened The Fox & the Crow, an artisan cheese and meat shop in mditown Fort Collins. She is a certified cheesemonger with an educational background in art history, which means eh really loves the stories behind the cheeses she sells. While her shop takes cheese seriously, they bring a levity to the intimidating nature of artisan cheese. Her employees are all well versed in cheese, and are happy to explain what makes each one special and offer recipes and pairing suggestions. T o make it to her grand opening, she worked closely with the SBDC while developing her plan, and has now expanded her shop offerings to include catering.



DOL Rules - What You Need to Know

Thursday, June 23, 2016

by Stacy Stolen

Real Value Consulting/VolkBell Insurance



The rules are here … now what?

Here's What You Need to Know

Anyone earning less than $913.00 per week; or $47, 476 annualized base:
• Is now (most likely) entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week
• Is now required to track and account for all hours worked within respective time keeping periods

How you make and communicate required adjustments to an individual's current salaried compensation is up to you, and there are several options you might consider. Here are five simple steps you must take now to comply with the FLSA’s latest changes, and make sure you stay in compliance in the years ahead.
1. Increase salaries of current exempt employees to more than $913 per week or $47,476 per year. Exempt employees earning more than that will not be entitled to overtime.

2. Reduce bonuses for exempt employees whose overall compensation exceeds the new minimums. Increase salaries by the bonus amounts.

3. Reclassify exempt employees as nonexempt and pay them hourly. Of course, you will still have to pay overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.

4. Reclassify exempt employees and pay them on a commission or fluctuating-workweek basis. Consult your attorney to learn more about the fluctuating workweek system, which pays a salary to nonexempt employees whose schedules vary from week to week.

5. Increase staffing levels to eliminate unnecessary overtime.

You can be assured that the DOL, which has already increased its investigative force by 33% since 2010, will put employers under even more scrutiny in 2017 by visiting many employers and auditing; be sure to reach out if you need more information!