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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!

DOL Labor Standards Changes

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

by Stacy Stolen

Real Value Consulting/VolkBell Insurance



On May 18, 2016 The U.S. Department of Labor released its final rule regarding the changes to the overtime threshold for the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Among other things, the Department has doubled the minimum salary needed to qualify for these exemptions, from the previous level of $455 a week (or $23,660 a year) to $913 a week (or $47,476 a year).


Key Provisions of the Final Rule

The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

  1. 1. Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);
  2. 2. Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and
  3. 3. Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The effective date of the final rule is December 1, 2016. The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

For more details:
https://www.dol.gov/featured/overtime


2016 Summer Series Announcement!

Friday, May 20, 2016

2016 Summer Series

For the fourth year in a row, the Larimer SBDC is proud to announce our 2016 Summer Series! We're bringing you 6 unique workshops to make your Fridays over the summer just a little more productive. Join us Fridays from 12:00 - 1:30 for a light lunch and 90 minutes of great education for just $10. Click on any of the images below for more class information and to register!

     Carl Dierschow - Small Fish Business Coaching

Many leaders start a business because of their passion to make a better world. Perhaps you want to support artisans in Cambodia or farmers in Ecuador. Maybe you’re seeking to give jobs to veterans or handicapped in the community. Or to create a business model which is zero carbon emissions. Whatever your cause, let’s get some key insights into how to balance the difficult tradeoffs and create a thriving business for decades to come. In this session, we’ll see some inspiring examples from various industries and dig into their underlying success factors. Carl will introduce us to an approach which captures the balance between the “hard” and “soft” goals of the business, and the process of leading toward attainment of you particular vision.

     Tyler Brooks - Analytive

So you need a website, but don't have a budget to hire someone else to build it. No problem! We'll show you how to build your own website quickly with a small upfront investment. Why spend thousands of dollars when you can get most of what you need from a simple, low cost solution? We'll dig into some of the common platforms and help you get a website up and going quickly. We'll also discuss the role of your website in your overall marketing picture.

     Don Poe - People Productions

Everyone wants a viral video - but is that really the best solution for your company? How do you convert a 'Like' into an actual sale? This session will teach you easy strategies to help you make a video that will get your customers to find you and buy from you. We’ll have interactive exercises to help you apply the learning in your own business, so make sure you bring your tablet or smartphone!

     Emily Wilson - Innosphere

How can startups and small businesses start to form reporter relationships? What do you need to know about BizWest Media’s approach to coverage? Join BizWest Media reporter Joshua Lindenstein and Innosphere’s communication director Emily Wilson to talk about tips for reaching news organizations and learn best practices on public relations that you can start implementing right away.

     Mike Winchell - Learning Rx

Every business faces a daily, weekly, monthly and annual series of problems to be solved combined with a desire to improve to be the best they can be. Solve these problems and make the right improvements and you can achieve more profits and live with less stress. It is the American Dream in action. But in the trenches, the small business owner is constantly playing their own personal role of Robert Irvine in Restaurant Impossible. It seems like an impossible role. Yet here you are, the star of your own reality show trying to get the most out of your own business and live the dream. In this workshop we will explore some models for problem solving and improvement. These models can be used as the beginning of your framework for your annual business review or to solve your current biggest problem, whether you are trying to get back on track or trying to take it to the next level. Clearly you are the star of your show. Let’s see if we can help you feel like the director too.

Meribeth Lunn - Employer Solutions Group

Healthy organizations are characterized by minimal politics and confusion, high levels of productivity, morale, and low turnover. They are whole, consistent, and unified in their management, operations, and culture.

How to Prep & Pitch Your Loan

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Presenter: Shannon Richardson - Community Banks of Colorado


Are you going to be seeking financing for your business? Whether it is an existing business or a brand new start-up, there are several things you need to know BEFORE you approach a lender. We're bringing in Shannon Richardson of Community Banks of Colorado to give you the rundown of what you need to know. Bring your lunch and join us to learn:

What Are Your Choices?
• Microloan, SBA, Conventional Bank Loan
• Overview and comparison of different loan types 

Preparing to Approach Your Lender
• Credit scores (FICO) and how to repair if needed 
• Understanding your financials-Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement
• What are the 5 C’s of Credit?
• What are the expectations for…Capital Injection (owner’s investment), Cash Flow (what is cash flow), Required Documents, Timeline (turnaround time) and Costs


This is a FREE event, but pre-registration is required




Small Business After Hours: Your Creative Advantage

Monday, April 18, 2016

Your Creative Advantage


Colorado is a global leader in the creative industries, which include six creative sectors: design, film and media, heritage, literary and publishing, performing arts, and visual arts and crafts. The “Creative” Industry is as big as the imagination.  So how do you make yourself not only stand out as an artist, but also thrive?
 
Please join our panel of diverse, creative Artrepreneurs for some peer networking with refreshments, followed by a panel discussion on topics such as:
•         I’ve created, now how do I get heard/seen?
•         Making a living with your art
•         The new creative class -  What works in today's marketplace 
•         How to attract and delight your ideal “customer”


 
Amelia Caruso
Amelia attended the Arts Academy of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati. She studied Documentary Photography and brings that sense of “composing inside the viewfinder” to her paintings. Her work as been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country including Ft Collins Museum of Art and many Art in Public Places projects in Colorado. Amelia worked on television’s Will & Grace. Now she has found a more purposeful & powerful work with the introspective look of her current direction. Amelia also has a very successful fabric line called “Effervescence” with industry leader Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
 
 
Dawn Duncan
is a music industry executive and the owner of Yellowbright, Inc., an agency dedicated to licensing and consulting for musicians. Additionally, she is the founder and President of Sugarfox Records, an indie label founded in 2014 and designed to co-brand between companies and bands as a way of cross-marketing and also funding album recording and promotion. In 2015, she assumed the role of Managing Editor of Scene Magazine, a 26-year old music, nightlife, entertainment, and lifestyle publication for the Front Range of Colorado. She has been a Fort Collins resident and entrepreneur since moving to Colorado in 1994 from Minnesota and is a graduate of the University of North Dakota.
 
Jennifer Spencer
Moved forward by an insatiable curiosity of life and learning, Jennifer Spencer has explored song writing and recorded songs, invented and patented products, been the CEO of start-up ventures, successfully commercialized products on an international scale and sung in rock&roll bands.  Jennifer is currently focusing her creativity on abstract oil painting.  She is a consultant and mentor to new businesses at the Small Business Development Center.  
 
 Peggy Lyle
A native of Santa Fe, Peggy is passionate about the arts and creative approaches to business and communications. With 20+ years of event production, marketing, and programming for Downtown Fort Collins and The Rhythm Co., she’s aided musicians, performers, galleries, artists, non-profits, small businesses and events navigate promotion, audience cultivation, programming and business strategy. Highlight Projects/Boards: Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, FoCoMX, Colorado Brewers’ Festival, FC Gallery Walk, Downtown Fort Collins Creative District and TriMedia Film Festival.

 
 Gregg Adams
began as a musician, performing at venues throughout the U.S.  After a stint in the corporate world, Gregg began to concentrate on artistic and philanthropic pursuits.  He joined 2-time Grammy award winning band Arrested Development as business affairs manager, generating substantial increases in revenue and visibility for the band.  In 2008 Gregg, along with his wife and business partner Wendy, founded 2 Fat Farmers Productions, a production company committed to creating personalized entertainment and training options for corporate and private customers. Gregg has personally managed a variety of artists, including Young Ancients, the Holler!, Michael Kirkpatrick, Carlton Pride and Fierce Bad Rabbit, for whom he secured a synchronization deal to provide music for New Belgium Brewing’s first national TV commercial, to name a few.


Thank you to our event sponsor:








Key People to Add to Your Business Team

Friday, April 15, 2016
  By Kat Rico
  

You’re in business for yourself, yes, but you should never be in business by yourself. In order to be productive, you need a team of people behind you! Here are some key people we recommend that you have on your side for better and for worse while you’re in business (in no particular order).
  1. Accountant – You don’t have time to learn all of the tax and bookkeeping ins and outs, and you shouldn’t have to. Of course you should have a basic understanding of the concepts, but an accountant can help you figure out where your business might be hemorrhaging money, opportunities to save on taxes, and whether you have adequate cash flow to hire that first employee.

  2. Attorney – Things happen. Contracts go bad. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. Whatever the case, your attorney is there to help you and go to bat for you. They can also help you before you make a potentially bad decision by helping you select an entity type, review a lease, draw up a standard contract to use for jobs and more. Along with your accountant, your attorney can be a strong business ally. The best option is to have an attorney before you need one.

  3. Mentor – This is a person who has business experience, preferably in your industry, that you can bounce ideas off of and will give you constructive advice without sugarcoating reality. Your mentor needs to be someone who doesn’t have a stake in the business (so no investors), they only have a stake in your success. Meet them once in a while and catch up on the good, the bad and the ugly of how your business is doing. Don’t use your mentor just to vent or brag, but to learn about how you can do your business better. As a shameless plug for our services, this is the best area where the SBDC can help!

  4. Banker – Don’t just have a bank, but a banker. A real person you can call at your bank when you don’t understand a fee, need to buy some equipment or need to order checks. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Your banker is your friend and can alert you to potentially fraudulent activity, but only if they know how you normally spend your business money.

  5. Marketer - Your marketer should be able to help you identify who your customers are, how to reach them, and understand if you're reaching them. The best description we've heard comes courtesy of our Social Media Specialist, Amy Alcorn, who told us, "Not having a marketing person for your business is like trying to flirt and winking in the dark." Don't invest money in advertising, online or otherwise, without talking to your marketer about your strategy.
Of course, there may be a couple of other people you want to regularly consult with about your business depending on your industry, but these are a good starting point to build a supportive network to help your business succeed.


7 Steps to Start a Business

Tuesday, April 05, 2016
  By Kat Rico
  


Ok, so it can end up being more complicated than 7 steps, but we’ll do our best to keep it concise for you. Do yourself a favor and hold off on the business cards until you’ve completed these steps.

*Full legal disclaimer: Depending on your industry, where your business is located, and the type of business you are operating, this may not be a complete list. As a business owner, YOU are responsible for complying with the law. Do your due diligence BEFORE starting your business.*


  1. 1. Location check – Where will your business be located? If you’re operating out of your home, you need to check with your landlord or HOA to make sure you are not violating any clauses about home based businesses. If you’re renting a space, verify with your landlord and the city/municipality that your business will not violate any existing zoning laws.

  2. 2. License check – Some businesses require special licenses that can take months to apply for. Colorado has an “Occupational License Database” online at: http://www.advancecolorado.com/business-colorado/occupational-license-database.

  3. 3. Local registration – You may or may not need to register your business with your city or county, you’ll want to check both to make sure. This can also vary if your business is home based. The key to look for is a “Business” section on their website, from there you should see information about potential licensing requirements. While you’re there, pay attention to how to pay sales and use tax if this applies to your business, you may need a separate tax license.

  4. 4. State registration – In Colorado, you must register your business with the Colorado Secretary of State. Again, look for a “Business” section and you’ll find information about how to register your business. The entity type you register as will affect your taxes as well as how much legal separation there is between you and your business, so choose carefully. It can also be difficult and expensive to change your entity type after you’ve started, so again, research is key. You can search here and make sure your desired business name is available in your state as well.

  5. 5. Federal registration – For tax purposes, you’ll likely need to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS online. Your entity selection will affect how income from your business appears on your tax return and whether or not you’ll be responsible for paying estimated taxes.

  6. 6. Separate your banking – This is a really big deal, even for small single owner businesses. Set up a separate bank account! Your banker will need your EIN and to see you’re in good standing with the Secretary of State. Both your accountant and attorney will recommend you don’t ‘pierce the corporate veil,’ which in essence means that you are walking, talking and acting like a business, and this is especially important with finances. If you co-mingle funds or operate your business from a personal bank account, not only will your accountant charge you more to sort it out, but it can put all of your funds in a legally liable position if something goes wrong.

  7. 7. Walk the walk, talk the talk – Now you can do things like buy business cards, technology for your business, take jobs and make sales under your official business name. You’ve still got a long way to go towards building your dream business, but you’re going in the right direction!

Still lost? Check out our upcoming workshops for "So You Want to Start a Business" or "Make It Official" for classroom training, or register for consulting.

Restaurant & Food Products - Competitive Advantage

Monday, February 15, 2016

Restaurant & Food Industry - "Competitive Advantage"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Panel Event


A quick search of Larimer County restaurants yields nearly 2,000 results, not including food products. With so many food based businesses, how do you set yourself apart? For our March “Small Business After Hours Event,” we’re bringing together a panel of experts to discuss Competitive Advantage in the food industry. Some of the points we’ll be discussing are:

How do you position your business versus your main competitors?
How do you present your business to new potential customers?
How do you evaluate new products/services to better position your business?
What’s worked/what hasn’t from businesses who have been there?
How do you strategically price your offerings?

Join us for this great event and take advantage of the opportunity to learn and network with potential partners for your business. We’ve all got to eat, learn why we should eat what you’re selling!

Our panelists for this event will be:


Jennifer Lopez is the owner of Swallowtail Foods, LLC, in Fort Collins, which manufactures a line of instant chai latte mixes called Pi Chai. Pi Chai made its debut in 2014, and is sold at local stores & coffeeshops in Colorado. Jennifer has 25+ years of experience in the food & beverage industry.
 

Owner of Loveland's Generations Wine & Martini Bar, Erin Borsdorf came to Larimer county in 2006, operating/managing several restaurants including Cafe Vino, Vincent, Woody's Wood Fired Pizza, and Basil Flats (Longmont) among others before working at Loveland's Pourhouse Bar and Grill for two years. During this time she developed a business plan to open present day Generations. She has a background in secondary education, has worked as a political strategist in IL, and holds degrees in theatrical design, social sciences, and communication, as well as licensing as a secondary educator and real estate agent.

Ken King has operated, rescued, designed and built over 100 independent restaurants in his 40-year food service career. He has owned a successful steakhouse, family restaurant, hot dog stand, prime rib house, and European bistro.Ken is an expert at improving business performance, creating new brands, identifying opportunities, and working with clients on specific operational and development challenges. He is available to SBDC clients for troubleshooting, business evaluation, and specialized assistance.
Patrick O'Neill is a Colorado native, born to an entrepreneurial family. Patrick served 6 years in the Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst. He graduated from CU Boulder in 1991 with a degree in political science. Patrick then managed his family’s industrial painting business and later entered a career in law enforcement. In 2012 he and his wife, Stefanie, bought Vern’s Toffee House from her family and continue to nurture its growth.

Thank you to our event sponsor:












Top 5 Business Real Estate Tips

Friday, February 12, 2016
by Kat Rico

Our first 2016 “Small Business After Hours” event drew another great crowd! Presenter Andy Smith of Chrisland Real Estate Companies gave us some valuable information on expectations for leasing real estate for a retail business. In case you missed it, we wanted to give you a recap of what was discussed!

Andy gave us definitions for nearly 30 common real estate terms, a few worth noting are:
Baseline rent – This is typically the advertised rent cost for a property. Lessee beware though, this may not include all of the property fees, such as maintenance, snow removal, parking arrangements, etc.
Triple Net/Net Lease/NNN – A type of lease that includes the tenant paying maintenance, real estate taxes, and insurance premiums.
Rent escalator – The agreed upon amount of increase for costs associated with the lease, including rent. A common rate for a rent escalator is 3%.

Along with all of the great terminology, here are the top 5 tips we’ve pulled together from Andy’s presentation:
1. Everything is negotiable - This includes everything right down to the tenant finish costs; can the landlord front the cost for any finishing and add it to the monthly cost of the lease? It’s worth asking!

2. Find a real estate broker to represent your interestsThe landlord has a broker, but that broker is working for the landlord’s best interests. You want to have a broker working for your best interest. If you engage a broker, your broker has a fiduciary duty to you and only you. Worried that the landlord will not want to work with your broker? Actually, it’s the opposite; most landlords prefer to work with someone (like a broker) who already speaks their language.

3. Think about your timeline, now double itThese things take time! The days of 2-3 page leases are gone, most are more like 20-30 pages now. Along with a broker, it’s recommended that you retain an attorney to review and interpret the lease for you, so you know what you’re getting in to.

4. Location, location, location - Is the space you’re looking at good for its convenience or as a destination? If it’s for convenience, it’ll probably be easily seen from a major street and have ample parking and your customers will be going there for you. If it’s for a destination, your customers will go to the area as an attraction. Destination spaces tend to have a higher rent premium. 

5. Parking and pedestrian traffic - Does your lease include specific parking spots for your customers or employees? Is the parking in front of your business leased to another nearby shop? Clarify these details before signing a lease. Also, the city should be able to provide you with vehicles per day and pedestrian counts for the area you’re looking at leasing, but you have to ask.

Of course this doesn’t encompass every question that was asked last Tuesday, but hopefully it gives you a good idea of what was covered. Are you looking at leasing a space? Meet with an SBDC consultant to discuss what that means for your business before you make the leap! Schedule an appointment by calling 970-498-9295, or send us a request at: http://www.larimersbdc.org/consulting.

Health & Wellness Business - Funnel Vision

Monday, October 26, 2015

Health & Wellness Business - Funnel Vision

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Speaker: Reu Smith, Customer Acquisition Expert

Do you have all the pieces for a great marketing plan but don't know how to start putting them together? 
Funnel Vision will help you understand the right piece to use as your starting point, and how to put your marketing pieces into action to complete the entire marketing puzzle picture. We will discuss how to attract strangers to gain visitors, how to connect visitors into customers and how to delight customers into brand champions. 

Funnel Vision will help you decide when and how to use social media, call-to-action, blogs, newsletters, posts, tweets, pins, pluses. 

Funnel Vision is taught by an experienced and eccentric marketing agency owner who will keep your attention while laughing and learning. You will have serious fun at this event!

Thank you to our event sponsor: