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Call For Instructors!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Do you have valuable knowledge or a particular set of skills you'd like to share with small business owners? The Larimer SBDC is seeking instructors to develop and teach new classes for the Larimer SBDC beginning in January 2016. We are entering our planning stages now, so please submit your ideas and contact information to:

Terri Donovan-Keirns
terri@larimersbdc.org
Program Coordinator|
Larimer SBDC

We're looking for classes that will be unique and challenging for our entrepreneurs. Volunteering to teach a class with the SBDC is a great way to share your expertise with new business owners and contribute to a more diverse economic community. Contact us today!

Doing Business with the Government

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doing Business with the Government

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

9:00 am  - 11:00 am

Larimer County Building


Have you ever thought about government contracting but didn’t know where to start? Join us for an interactive workshop about what government agencies buy, how you can market your products and services to federal and state agencies, and where to find opportunities.  You’ll also learn about the small business certification programs that can help you get your foot in the door. 

The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) will show you basics of getting started.  The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Connect2DOT Program Manager will tell you about working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  If you want to get a slice of the billion dollar pie, don’t miss this workshop!

Agenda:
9:00 - 10:00: Federal Government Contracting
Learn the steps for doing business with the government
Registering in SAM and using online marketing tools
Presented by Kathryn Rowe, PTAC
10:00 - 11:00: Doing Business with CDOT
What CDOT buys and the certifications that can get you in the door
Forecast of anticipated 2015 CDOT bid opportunities
Presented by Cathy Kramer, Connect2DOT
11:00-12:00: Networking and Consulting
Stay after to network with other small businesses and talk with the business counselors from PTAC and Connect2DOT about your business

This is a FREE event, but pre-registration is required! Save your seat today!




10+ Retail Holiday Boot Camp Takeaways

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Our Small Business After Hours series is proving to be a hit! Nearly 30 people representing a wide variety of retail shops throughout Fort Collins attended our September 22nd event.

Alyson MacMullan of Peak Retail Group gave us some great takeaways for retailers to remember as they enter their holiday planning period.
1. Lay all your key dates from November through January (yes, January) on a physical calendar
• Sometimes you may see correlations on paper that aren’t obvious in a digital format.• Small Business Saturday is November 28th this year!
2. Determine your goals for the holiday season
• Do you want more sales in dollars or in transactions? Do you have targets for how much inventory you want to move? Are you aiming for less January markdowns?• If you don’t have data from last year to drive your goals, make sure you begin collecting it this year! What works? What doesn’t?
3. Pick a color pallet for your store displays and stick to it!  
• Highlight high margin inventory in your displays.• Hint: It doesn’t have to be red and green, in fact, your store’s brand colors work very well! 
4. Consider all elements for the in-store experience: Sights, sounds, smells 
• Offer extras like a free stocking stuffer, free gift wrapping and bounce back offers with every purchase.• Do everything you can to keep shopping stress-free and easy for your customers. 
5. Proper staffing is a challenge for retailers during the holidays
• Signs are your silent salespeople. Make them informative and interesting so customers can answer their own simple questions.• Arm your salespeople with mobile payment options so they can help customers avoid lines at the register.
6. Social media is your friend!
• Post every day! Use a planning/scheduling service like SnapRetail, Hootsuite or SproutSocial to help you plan out several days in one easy shot.• People love contests and flash sales, utilize these techniques!• An image is worth 1,000 posts. Show your staff decorating the store!
7. E-mail is your friend too, but be cautious
• Find an e-mail template and stick with it for the season. It will make your life easier and your customers will recognize your communications.• ONE offer per e-mail only, and keep it clean and concise. People are already stressed during the holidays, your communication should make it easy for them.
8. 12 Days of Christmas Promotions are very effective!
• Drive traffic into your store by offering serious discounts (50-75% off) on a high margin, highly stocked item each day.• These are top secret deals! Resist the urge to reveal the promos early. Pre-schedule deal communication to save yourself a headache.
9. Your merchandise assortment shouldn’t vary dramatically during the holidays; the majority of your stock should be tried and true items 
• NEVER run out of your top sellers, that’s a missed opportunity!• Don’t accept late deliveries from your vendors. Communicate clearly and directly when you need your merchandise by and if they can’t meet your deadlines, don’t accept deliveries.
10. Restock key items for January and mix up the look of your store

Sound like a lot of information? We assure you, this was only the tip of the iceberg! 

Thank you Alyson for all of the excellent information you provided!

If you’re a retailer and need help digesting and applying this information, we encourage you to schedule with a Larimer SBDC consultant now to help with planning out your holiday strategy!

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

No matter what business you’re in, attracting and retaining top talent is always an issue. How do you retain and reward good employees? How do you successfully recruit qualified employees? What workforce issues are you dealing with now? What works? What doesn’t?

Just for our restaurant and food businesses, we’ve assembled a great panel of professionals to address these workforce issues. Come prepared with your questions and get answers from people who have been there and done that!

Our Panelists:

  Ryan Houdek moved to Fort Collins in 1995 to work as a Computer Engineer for Hewlett-Packard Company. In 2004, Ryan decided to change careers and open The Melting Pot restaurant in Old Town. Then, in 2008, he opened Rodizio Grill in the historic train station. Later, in 2013, he opened Social with his business partner Ty Fulcher. Ryan currently lives in Rist Canyon with his wife Christine and dog Frodo.

 

  Carolyn Reed is president at Silver Bloom, LLC, a restaurant management company, since October 2012. She has experience with multi-unity restaurant management with an emphasis on restaurant design and construction management. As a restaurant franchisee of several Silver Mine Subs locations stretching from Cheyenne to Denver, her knowledge spans all aspects of restaurant management and operations.

 
  Josh Skow is the co-Founder and CEO of Canyon Bakehouse, a dedicated gluten free bakery located in Loveland, CO. The business was started in 2009 after seeing a need in the market for quality gluten free breads that were nutritious and tasted good. Canyon Bakehouse branded products are now sold in over 10,000 stores across the United States and Canada. Josh is a graduate of Kansas State University. In addition to owning and operating several businesses, he has held operations and sales positions with several major US and International food ingredient companies. Josh and his family reside in Colorado.

 
   Mark Havens is a Fort Collins Native, and after traveling the US in different capacities in the service industry returned home in 2009. Hired as the general manager he reinvented Café Vino taking a staff of 16 to 60 in a few short years. His passion for Café Vino is seen in the staff’s morale, his innovative ideas and providing an exceptional experience for his guests every night of the week. Mark is one of the hardest workers in Fort Collins, if you don’t see him at the door, he might be serving your dinner, making your drink, working as our handyman or possibly washing dishes in the kitchen.

 






Sharing the Blessings of Success

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning Success Story

Owner: Kami Bowker
Story: Kat Rico
Photography: Courtesy of Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning


Not all entrepreneurs start with goals of grandiose riches; in the case of Kami Bowker, owner of Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning, she just wanted to be able to make her $300 per month car payment. Just three years later, her cleaning business has grown so rapidly, she has chosen to invest the unexpected growth in her vision of a Christian women’s respite ministry.

Originally from Burlington, Colorado, Kami moved to Fort Collins for beauty school and then owned a salon for four years. Life’s twists and turns led her to being a stay-at-home mother who homeschooled her children for 13 years. These experiences helped her hone the Organizing skills that are essential to her business success today. At the suggestion of a friend, she started Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning in 2012, her first shot at business ownership in over 20 years.

The business grew rapidly, which led her in to the Larimer SBDC to help manage the growth. “My SBDC consultant’s help was essential,” said Kami, “She encouraged me to dream bigger.” Over the first year of working with the SBDC, her business saw 1,100% growth, and the following year an additional 226%. Now the company employs 4 part time employees, including Kami’s daughter. 

Even though the business is a cleaning service, Kami’s goal for Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning is to bless her clients and become part of their family. “Twelve hours a month can be invaluable to a mother,” she says. Her employees become part of her client’s extended family by building a deep relationship of trust, as evidenced by the business’ success, which relies solely on word of mouth advertising. After they clean a house, Ragamuffin staff leave muffins for the family to enjoy. “We hope to bring sunshine into our clients’ lives!”

Kami’s personal mission extends beyond just blessing her clients, and the expansion of her dream with Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning will be to support the Ragamuffin House. Her larger vision is to create a Christian women’s ministry where women can have a week-long respite to rejuvenate, reconnect, and then reengage in their spheres of influence. “That is why I get up in the morning, dreaming of the Ragamuffin House,” says Kami. Currently she is working with the Larimer SBDC to further define and support this vision, which is planned to launch in 2017. 

“The biggest thing the SBDC gave me was confidence and encouragement when I felt like I couldn’t do it.” Kami is happy to be able to continue her mission of blessing those around her through both the cleaning business and ministry that she has been called to. Her best advice for other entrepreneurs seeking their calling is, “Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision, and talk to as many people as you meet about it, because you never know who’s going to cross your path.”


See the full photo gallery on the Ragamuffin Organizing & Cleaning Success Story Page!






10 Signs You Need Better a Better Understanding of Your Business Finances

Tuesday, September 08, 2015
      by Brian Cathcart, CPA, MS
Larimer SBDC Consultant
The Financial Lab

You are probably really good at providing the products and/or services of your business. But you might not feel so competent or confident about the accounting and financial analysis part of your business. Maybe you need to change your mindset regarding your financial reporting as something to get excited about. 

Don’t you get excited about things that make you money?  Financial reporting and analysis makes you money!

10 Signs You Need Better a Better Understanding of Your Business Finances
  1. You don’t know the role of accounting or what accounting means. 
  2. You are not using financial information regularly to make better business decisions.
  3. You don’t know how to calculate your break even or how to calculate sales necessary to achieve a desired level income.
  4. You don’t know what accounting infrastructure means.
  5. You don’t know what accrual based accounting means.
  6. You don’t understand why the balance sheet is the most important financial statement.
  7. You don’t understand why it is necessary or how to perform monthly reconciliations and close the books.
  8. You have a large accounting role without adequate training and education.
  9. You are a business owner or manager that would like to freshen up on all this accounting stuff.
  10. You are not excited about monthly financial analysis.
Do any of those strike a chord with you? The good news is the Larimer SBDC is here to help! We have free, confidential, individual business consulting with professionals like myself who understand the impact financials have on your business growth, as well as several upcoming training options. 

Check out the following helpful classes that are coming up soon:

Thursday, November 5  1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
QuickBooks: 3 Part Series
Friday, November 6 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Basics of Bookkeeping: Know Thy Numbers
Wednesday, November 18 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM  
TAXES - Get Informed and Organized Now!

Need help sooner? Classes don't fit your schedule? 

Click here to request an appointment.


Retail Holiday Boot Camp

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Retail Holiday Boot Camp

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Speaker: Alyson MacMullanPeak Retail Group

You’ve done your merchandise buying. The calendar is ticking away. You know the biggest retail season is just around the corner. Once you get all that amazing merchandise, what’s your plan for it? Display it and hope for the best?

That’s where our Retail Holiday Boot Camp is here to help.

Join us on for another “Small Business After Hours” event targeted at our retail client businesses. Alyson will present great information that we’ll use to help you establish a real plan you can use through short interactive breakout sessions. Some of the topics we’ll be focusing on will be:
• Laying out your holiday marketing calendar
• Getting creative with your promotions
• Message targeting store displays (like gifts for teachers)
• Learning how to create strategic shopping partnerships with complementary retailers, as well as service providers and restaurants

The holidays are a stressful time of year even when you don’t own a retail business, get ahead of the game this year and register for our Retail Holiday Boot Camp!
  



QuickBooks Online - What's the Big Deal?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
For the first time, the Larimer SBDC will be offering “QuickBooks Online: 3 Part Series” beginning on September 9 and running through September 23. 

While the functionality of QuickBooks Online is very similar to what is offered through their traditional desktop software, they are visually very different. QuickBooks Online also has the advantage of integrating with mobile applications that can be used on both a smartphone and tablet.

Are you confused about whether to use QuickBooks online or QuickBooks Pro (the desktop version)? Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I want to be able to update QuickBooks from multiple devices (computer, smartphone, tablet)? Online
Do I want to pay for the software once and use it for multiple years? Desktop
Do I want my accountant/CPA to be able to log on and immediately fix entries? Online
How much phone support do I need? Unlimited – Online; Pay for extra – Desktop
Do I want to have the latest features automatically? Online
Do I want to have permanent record continuity, even if I change software? Desktop

There are many more factors that should go in to choosing the right software for your business, and for a more complete breakdown of the differences in features, see the detailed list directly from Intuit.

Our upcoming “QuickBooks Online: 3 Part Series” (September 9, 16 & 23; 1:00 - 5:00 pm) will cover what QuickBooks Online can do for you. You will learn how to back up your system, navigate through the program, and a brief overview of setting up a sample company. Other topics include:
Managing your checkbook
Handling credit card payments
Reconciliation of accounts
Accounts payable & accounts receivable
Analyzing your financials by using reports 

This class is perfect for the person who has never used the program or is within their first year of use. It will be presented by Kirsten Woy, a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor and held at the Digital Workshop.




Five Technology Solutions That can Help You Grow and Protect Your Business in 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

12:00 - 1:30 PM


Five key technologies that you should be using in 2015 to take your business to the next level:
  1. 1) Network Security & Data Backup -  Is your network and data really secure?
  2. 2) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)  - Are you nurturing your existing clients and bringing on new ones?
  3. 3) Social Media & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Can potential customers find you on the web? 
  4. 4) Client Service & Support Ticketing systems – Are your customers experiencing world class customer service? 
  5. 5) On Line Payments & Electronic Invoicing – Want to get paid faster?
You will walk away with an actionable game plan for evaluating how important these technologies are for your specific business.   The course will provide an outline for how to implement a solution that best fits your needs and at a price you can afford.   Technology doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  




Our event sponsor for this session is:

 

Health & Wellness Business Panel Follow-Up

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Last week, we held our fourth “Small Business After Hours” event that was targeted at our Health and Wellness businesses. We were excited to host the five person panel event, which was moderated by SBDC Consultant and InnovatioNews publisher, Lee Porter. Our panelists provided valuable information to approximately 30 attendees.


In case you missed the event, a main topic of conversation was money. As Lee put it, that’s a big challenge to tackle! The varying scales of our panelists’ businesses provided insight that applied across the spectrum of our clients’ businesses. For instance, Bill and Tammy Jenkins have a larger natural health practice, and they are able to have their front desk person handle all of the discussion about payment. Keith and Shelley Beyerle at Rocky Mountain Rossitier tend to have the discussion directly with their clients and have clearly established pricing guidelines for their services. Mike Maguire from Home Instead Senior Care trains his staff to have the price discussion based on the needs and concerns of the client, so that if money is their main concern, the service they provide is tailored around price.

Another topic that was recurring throughout the evening was relationship building. All of the panelists emphasized the importance of building a strong referral based practice, which can only occur through building positive relationships with clients, and beyond that, complimentary services. Due to the nature of the services his business provides, Mike also keeps an ongoing list of organizations to send inquires to in case his services aren’t quite the right fit. We capped off the event with a round of light networking so our client businesses could learn how they could potentially create some of the partnerships the panelists mentioned.

Health and Wellness business owners are a unique bunch, largely because many of them aren’t in business solely for profit. The type of person who starts a Health and Wellness business generally wants to help people lead healthier, happier lives. Ultimately our panelists encouraged the audience to think critically about the value of the services they provide, how they can add value through partnerships and get the kind of monetary return they need to keep their business healthy.

Were you at our Health and Wellness Business Panel? What did you think? What other industry topics like this would you like to see the SBDC tackle? Leave a comment below or send a message to Terri Donovan-Keirns. Our next industry event for health & wellness businesses is scheduled for November 10, 2015.


Join us at our next “Small Business After Hours” event, which is scheduled for September 22, 2015 and will be targeted at our local retail businesses to help them solidify their holiday marketing plans.