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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.

Find Something New! Pop-Ups at Mesh

Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Find Something New is a Pop-up Event featuring the products of local artisans and entrepreneurs- makers, designers and developers alike.  

Mesh is located at 242 Linden Street in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins. We provide pop-up vendors with electricity,  water and restroom facilities. We require our vendors to provide their own tables and equipment. Times are subject to change but typically our pop-up's run from 12:00pm-9:00pm on Friday & 10:00am-4:00pm on Saturday. Mesh charges a booth rental fee per day based on the amount of sq. footage each vendor uses as well as a percentage of sales.

Upcoming Dates:

  • April 7th & 8th
  • May 5th & 6th
  • June 2nd & 3rd
If you are a vendor interested in participating, click here to apply!


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.

Inaugural Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Join the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network for the Inaugural Northern Colorado Women’s Small Business Conferee at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, Colorado on Thursday, November 3, 2016. This event sells out every year at other Colorado locations - don’t wait to buy your tickets!

Join over 300 other like-minded female entrepreneurs for an exciting, interactive day packed with hands-on business training seminars, free one-on-one consulting, exhibitor tables featuring area resources, plenty of networking opportunities, and more! Leave the conference feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, with plenty of action items, connections, and inspiration to take your business to the next level of success!

Already on the lineup for this great event are:

Wynne Odell

Co-Founder and CEO of Odell Brewing

Tanis Roeder

President of Elevate Your Communication

Breakout session tracks will feature Marketing and Sales, Workforce, and Finance and Accounting. We've got four sessions per track, so you'll have plenty of topics to choose from! We'll cap the day off with a networking session to connect and move forward.

Keep an eye out for more information as we get closer to the event!

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:








SBDC Regional Event - Google's New Rules

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Location: The Summit


Is your Google listing not what it used to be?
Are you frustrated because you've noticed a drop in your website's ranking on Google over the last year? Has your traffic slowed to a trickle?

Well, you're not alone. Late last year, Google released one of their largest changes to their ranking criteria since 2011. Many sites that had been at the top of the page 1 for years dropped dramatically and businesses watched their revenue dry up.

If you're concerned that your website ins't getting the kind of traffic that is should or want to start your website off on the right foot, the East Colorado and Larimer SBDC invite you to to join us Tuesday, March 29th. Google expert, Chadd Bryant, will clearly explain Google's new rules and walk you through the Top 10 factors that Google is paying attention to this year.

During this workshop, you'll discover...
- How to write enticing content that also appeals to Google- Two ways to get more people to click on your listing - How to avoid being punished by Google ever again

Presented by:





Chadd Bryant,   Red Rocket Web Specialists 

Special Instructions: 

Individuals must cancel three business days prior to event for refund. Saturday and Sunday are not considered business days. 
Acceptable cancellation methods include by phone 970-351-4274 or emailing Kyla.Benson@EastColoradoSBDC.com
No refunds will be granted if registrant fails to cancel three business days prior to event.


This event is sponsored by a partnership between:

     
     
     





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:












Hiring, Connecting With, and Keeping Employees

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On October 20th, the Larimer SBDC held our second Small Business After Hours event targeted at the restaurant and food product industry. We pulled together a great panel covering a variety of restaurants and a food manufacturer to specifically address workforce issues faced in these industries.

       
Carolyn Reed
Silver Mine Subs Franchises
Ryan Houdek
The Melting Pot,
Rodizio Grill, Social
Mark Havens
Cafe Vino
Josh Skow
Canyon Bakehouse

Restaurants and food product companies face unique issues when it comes to workforce. Some restaurants, like the Silver Mine Subs franchises owned by Carolyn Reed, are looking for entry level employees. Others like The Melting Pot, Social, and Rodizio Grill owned by Ryan Houdek, or Café Vino which is managed by Mark Havens, are looking for experienced restaurant staff who match the culture of their establishments. For food product manufacturers like Canyon Bakehouse, CEO Josh Skow says finding someone whose character traits align with the company goals is most important. Regardless, they all face the same larger problems of hiring the right person that fits with their company values, overcoming generational issues, and employee retention. 

Hiring Processes

Harness Technology – Using a digital application process helps Carolyn efficiently sort through applicants. She sets the metrics on the program to give weight to people with prior restaurant experience.Interview Best Practices – Sometimes it’s easier to find out if they’re not a right fit. Ryan asks disqualifying questions during the interview; if a candidate is expecting to always make $300 per shift, they’re probably not a good fit for his restaurant.Company Culture as a Hiring Tool – All of our panelists agreed that they are looking for candidates that fit their company values and culture. If there is a mismatch in the beginning, it is likely to cause a variety of problems later.

Generational Issues

Millennials Are… Different – Between a difference in learning styles, work ethic and a need to like their boss, millennial present a new set of challenges for business owners with generationally diverse workforces.Communicating with Millennials is… Different – According to Carolyn, you need to set your expectations for millennial workers upfront and in a clear manner. When communicating and coaching them, you have to decide if you will take a less direct tone or if the employee is worth the time it may take to get them trained.
An Intergenerational Approach is…. Different – The need to like their boss presents a unique opportunity for millennials in intergenerational workforces. “We are the missing element in learning a work ethic,” says Ryan. At the Canyon Bakehouse, they have a shift that is managed by a baby boomer with mostly millennial workers. Giving the team well-communicated shared goals helps them work as a team.

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Employee Retention

Compensation is More than a Paycheck – Providing benefits like health insurance add to the value an employee gets from their paycheck. Café Vino also has a profit sharing program. Mark says this gives him an extra 35 bosses telling him how he can do it better, and it also helps employees feel vested and take ownership of the business.Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly – Normalize feedback and coaching processes and address issues quickly and casually. From the manager standpoint, always document even verbal warnings, and don’t be afraid of using write-ups as a second step. The kindest thing you can do for your employees is let them know what the issue is and how to correct it quickly and professionally.
Honor Employees on a Regular Basis – Say goodbye and thank you to employees every evening, keep gift cards for when you catch employees doing something right, celebrate employee milestones on a regular basis. Hire the right management, because they will properly train your employees and provide them the right encouragement.
Of course it is difficult to capture a panel discussion like this in a few hundred words, but we want to make sure to share these insights with you. Are you in this industry? We’re planning for 2016 right now, so send your feedback on possible topics to kat@larimersbdc.org!

We will be continuing with our Small Business After Hours series with a Health & Wellness Businesses “Funnel Vision” workshop coming up on November 10, 2015.

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!