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My Top Six Reasons Businesses Get Into Trouble

Friday, April 28, 2017

My Top Six Reasons Businesses Get Into Trouble


My teenage son has his drivers permit. I give him pointers on keeping the vehicle between the lines, and avoiding obstacles. Unfortunately, such personalized guidance rarely exists for the entrepreneur, as evidenced by abysmal business failure rates.

I consider myself an optimistic guy, but I’m more likely to talk with an entrepreneur about minimizing problem areas, versus cheerleading possible success strategies. Why? Because while there are dozens of unpredictable paths to business success, there are only a handful of reasons that threaten the survival of a business.

My Top Six reasons are:

1) Not Understanding Your Competitive Advantage- Most people resist change, it’s human nature. Is your product/service compelling enough that people will change their behavior and spend money with you? We consulted with over 650 entrepreneurs last year, and most of them grossly underestimate how hard it is to SELL their offerings. Can you define your target market? Do you have resources to communicate your product’s benefits to this market? I know a company that builds moisture-proof credit card swipers for car washes. Car owners spend 40% more on a wash when they use a card. This is a major competitive advantage when the company talks to its prospective customers, the car wash owners.

2) Not Charging Enough- There are many external factors over which the business owner has no control. However, setting prices is an area largely within the control of the business owner, but it shocks me how seldom this tool is used. I see business owners working to exhaustion, selling out of their products every year, suffering declining margins, but still not increasing prices. It’s mistakenly seen as “good customer service” to keep pricing “low”. I maintain that most customers are looking for the best value, not the lowest price.

3) Not Understanding Cash Flow- If you’ve survived a cash flow crisis, the importance of proactively managing this process will be forever seared into your brain. Are your customers paying you when they should? Do you pay vendors too quickly? Do you have a rough concept of your cash flow highs and lows over the next 30 days, the next quarter? If your business has inventory, are you “turning it” at the right level to support your customers, yet not be a cash drag?

4) In a Physical Space That’s Too Big - The entrepreneur falls in love with an available space. it’s bigger than she wanted, but it’s in the right part of town, and the broker says “you’ll grow into it”. What’s more likely to happen is that the entrepreneur will now work extremely hard to make the over-sized lease payment instead of supporting the business. In my opinion, if your rent and utility costs are higher than 12-13% of your sales, you will have a difficult time making a profit.

5) Not Having Clear Job Responsibilities- Most businesses have a few core processes; a sales/marketing process, an operations/fulfillment process, an accounting/financial process, and some sort of human resource process. It’s vital that a competent individual have responsibility and authority to make each process work. Yet, I see businesses that leave entire processes unattended, with damaging results. I’ve seen this with larger businesses with employees, with husband/wife businesses, and with multi-generational businesses. It’s vital to have communication about the management of these interconnected processes.

6) Not Cultivating a Working Relationship with Your Banker (or lender)- The average bad debt ratio in the banking industry is 1.5%, which means the bank needs to bet right 98.5% of the time. A business owner wants his banker to support him, which means you need to invest time to make sure your banker understands your opportunities and challenges, and has confidence in how you’ll manage those. I made it a point to have coffee with my banker every 4-6 months, to keep the communication open and current.



Mike OConnell is the Director of the Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and a former business owner. The Larimer SBDC has been hosted and significantly sponsored by Front Range Community College for 30 years. The Larimer SBDC and Loveland Business Development Center provide “street-smart” business education and connection to resources.

Small Business Development Center’s Excellence and Innovation Award

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

North Metro Denver SBDC won State of Colorado
and Region VIII awards


The North Metro Denver SBDC, hosted by Front Range Community College in Westminster since 1989, received its award based on the center’s efforts to effectively assist small business owners, and its innovative approach to serving small manufacturers throughout Colorado. Since becoming senior director in 2011, Glenn Plagens has grown consulting over 500% during his tenure. The center has satellite offices in Brighton, Broomfield and Commerce City. Last year, the center provided over 2,600 hours of consulting for over 560 clients, $9,184,276.00 of capital formation, 25 business starts and 126 jobs created. Currently the center has over 30 consultants and trainers working with clients to provide the best possible experience. In an effort to better serve the state’s small manufacturing clients, Plagens created a “Beta Manufacturing” program, working intensively with four small businesses of a 2.5 year period, which led to the creation of 23 jobs, $5,200,000 in capital formation and $4,002,000 increased sales.

       

National Small Business Week - Celebrate with Brighton!

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Last year, Small Business Partners hosted 900 events around the country for National Small Business Week. Are you ready to join the Brighton Economic Development Corporation to make the party even bigger this year? Mark your calendars: Plan to Celebrate Small Business in Brighton with activities happening each day from May 1- May 5th.

On Thursday May 4th  from noon till 3:00, the Brighton Economic Development Corporation will host “Access to Capital” day.  Brighton EDC partners including North Metro Denver SBDC, the Small Business Administration, Colorado Enterprise Fund, Accion, Colorado Lending Source and private banks will be on hand to discuss your lending needs.  There will be a lenders panel with Q&A with the banks and nonprofits lenders answering group questions.  Additionally, Colorado Enterprise Fund will conduct their “Business Acceleration” presentation for those in attendance.

On Friday May 5th North Metro Denver SBDC at Brighton with our partners Brighton Economic Development Corporation and Front Range Community College will host the Business Development and Resource Day at Front Range Community College Brighton Campus with a variety of workshops, business resources and one-on-one consulting for business owners.

Happy National SBDC Day

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


To celebrate the collective impact and success the SBDC has had across the state and in local communities each year, Colorado is participating in the first national SBDC Day on March 22. SBDC Day is a national movement to help share the small business success stories and notable impact SBDCs have fostered in communities nationwide.

The day will include a Governor's Proclamation proclaiming March 22, 2017 as Small Business Development Day. The Proclamation will be read by Stephanie Copeland, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), on the steps of the Capitol.

Business has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, and the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network has been there throughout. Since 1987, Colorado's SBDC- the only statewide program of its kind -has helped aspiring and emerging small business owners achieve the American dream of entrepreneurship. Help share in the excitement by using #COSBDC #SBDCDay today!

What is “HTTPS” and Why Does it Matter?

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Peter Brisette
Digital Marketing Dude



 


What I want to talk about this month is “https”. What does the “S” stand for in websites? I’m going to show you a couple things here. I’m going to bring up my browser and share my screen with you, and talk about https and something that Google is doing, and what can we do about it, and what should we do about it?

Back in September, Google published this blog post, talking about their browser, Google Chrome.

Right now, when you go to a website that doesn’t have https, which means that it’s not encrypted, and this is really important for if you have a form or a login, or you’re putting any kind of personal information on a website. What it does is encrypts that data, and helps protect it, and keep it from other people getting ahold of it through the “interwebs.” What Google is doing is going to display websites as either being secure or not secure. I’ll show you an example of what secure looks like:


We have https on the DM Dude website, and you can see here, this is what it looks like in Google Chrome. It shows up saying it is secure– it’s got the https. Now, right now, as Chrome Version 53, it just shows an “i” next to the name if it’s not secure. So here’s a website denver.org. Now this is not a site where you have to put information in, other than your email to sign up for an email list, or to do a search. So it’s not necessarily necessary to be encrypted, but you got the “i” here. When I click on this I, it shows here that this site is not secure. That can make you a little bit nervous about that.
 

Now what they’re going to, this month, so when they do the Version 56 of Chrome, which should be launched some time in January, it’s going to actually say, “Not secure,” next to that. Instead of just the “i”, it’s actually going to say, “Not secure,” but eventually, it’s going to actually show up in red, with kind of this warning sign. “Warning. Warning. Not secure. It’s not secure.” What should you do about this? All right. Here’s my take on this. Number one: Google is kind of pushing the issue with secure. Not 100% sure why they’re trying to push this.



It’s honestly, in reality, not that big of a deal. Most websites are not capturing a bunch of data, they’re just information websites; they don’t really need to be secure.  But Google is hinting at providing more search engine juice, or improving the search ranking of sites that have https. We don’t know if they’re actually doing that, or how much it will impact your search results. It’s really hard to say, but Google is definitely pushing the issue. The cost of this is maybe a couple hundred dollars a year to have it on your domain, to make it https, so if it’s not a big press for budget-wise, I would say go ahead and do it.

But when do you need to do it? Is it something, “Oh, I got to do this immediately. I got to drop everything and do this right now?” No. I would say, you don’t need to drop everything and do this right now. What we’re recommending for our clients and customers is, if we’re able to do it pretty easily right now and they’re fine with it, we’ll go ahead and upgrade them to the https.  But in general, we’re kind of watching it. Is it absolutely necessary for every single website? The fact is, no. It’s not. Google’s pushing it, but the challenge really is that people are going to get the impression that a website is not safe because of what they’re going to put in Google Chrome.

It’s really not necessarily true, but if it’s a concern for you and your website, and depending on how vital your website is to your business (which for a lot of business owners it is) then it’s kind of a simple process to get it set up and have it done, and then you won’t have to worry about it.

This is the big thing I wanted to share with you here in our Monthly Marketing Message for January. Just kind of one of the latest, greatest things that’s come upon us, and changes that Google is making, and just to make you aware of that.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions about it, and you’d like to have some input on what kind of questions you like us to answer, just put that in the comments below this video. Whether that’s on YouTube, or Facebook, or wherever you might find it.

Colorado Creates Grant Guidelines and Application Now Available

Monday, March 13, 2017
DENVER - March 1, 2017 - Guidelines are now available for Colorado Creative Industries' Colorado Creates grant program. The purpose of Colorado Creates, CCI's largest grant program, is to provide critical financial support that helps nonprofit cultural organizations and communities produce and present arts and cultural activities, bringing jobs to their communities and enhancing the quality of life. 
 
"These grants support the arts organizations and artists who are critical to Colorado's economy," said Margaret Hunt, Director of Colorado Creative Industries. "By investing in this sector's vitality, the state builds its reputation as a premier creative hub and reaps significant economic returns."
 
For the current fiscal year, a total of 180 grants were awarded in 47 counties across the state totaling $1.3M, an increase from the 162 grants awarded the prior year. The agency's grants benefit both small and large communities, and 47% of grant funds were awarded in towns and cities located outside the Denver metro area.
 
Colorado Creates has a two-year grant funding period for successful applicants. Organizations awarded in last year's cycle are eligible to submit a Mid-Cycle Report instead of a full application. Those reports are due by 4p.m. on Thurs., April 20, 2017. View a list of organizations eligible for the second year funding here.


All other applicants will complete the full Colorado Creates application, which is due by 4p.m. on Thurs., June 1, 2017 for programs and activities occurring during the two-year period between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2019. Eligible applicants can review the guidelines and application instructions for the Colorado Creates full application here.


ELIGIBILITY

Grant applicants for Colorado Creates must be Colorado 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organizations or independent components of Colorado public colleges or universities, or government agencies. Applicants must have been providing public arts or cultural heritage programs in Colorado for at least three years by the application deadline and have a minimum cash operating budget of $25,000.  

GRANT AMOUNTS & REVIEW CRITERIA

Colorado Creates awards range from $4,000 to $10,000 and are awarded annually on a competitive basis. Proposals are reviewed by panels based on three review criteria:• Artistic excellence and merit of proposed activities
Community involvement and benefit from proposed activities
Implementation capacity, such as effective planning, management, and budgeting of the organization and the project.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applicants seeking assistance are advised to contact Creative Industries Division counselors well in advance of the application deadline. Prior to contacting a grant counselor, applicants should read the guidelines thoroughly. Both returning and first-time grant applicants will be using an online grant system, and must be registered and approved for eligibility prior to starting the application process. Staff may be contacted at 303.892.3840 or at OEDIT_CreativeIndustries@state.co.us. 

APPLICATION TOOLS

Creative Industries staff has developed a resource handbook to assist with the application process. Online tutorials and staff assistance will also be available. Updates will be posted on www.coloradocreativeindustries.org.  
About Colorado Creative Industries
Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado's state arts agency, is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). Established to capitalize on the immense potential for our creative sector to enhance economic growth in Colorado, the mission of Colorado Creative Industries is to promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado's economy, grow jobs and enhance our quality of life.

Front Range Community College Hosts SBDC 30 Years!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017
The Colorado SBDC Network offers free and low-cost resources to small business owners throughout the state. Each SBDC center has a local host, who is also a significant financial supporter for that center. 2017 marks 30 years since Front Range Community College has hosted both the Larimer and North Metro Denver SBDCs. 

On March 7, 2017, the City of Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell recognized this contribution with a “Thank You” proclamation, presented to Dr. Jean Runyon, Vice President of the Front Range Community College Larimer Campus.


Thank you, Front Range Community College, for your support and prioritizing small business education in Northern Colorado!




2016 North Metro Denver Annual Report

Tuesday, March 07, 2017
 

Glenn Plagens

North Metro Denver SBDC Director      
2016 was a great year for the North Metro Denver SBDC. Together our team continued to set new records for client impact and launch new programs targeted to the growing population of Adams and Broomfield counties. It was a super busy year and has set the stage for us to continue to grow and serve our small business community. 

The North Metro Denver SBDC teamed up with the Adams County Commissioners, Adams County Economic Development (ACED) and Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) to launch the Adams County Microloan Fund. The Fund was launched with $1 million, the largest fund launched in the state so far. We also worked with Manufacturer's Edge to launch the Small Manufacturer's AdvantEdge (SMA) program. This took our "test" manufacturing program to a statewide initiative and created a formal partnership between the Colorado SBDC Network and Manufacturer's Edge, the first formal program in the states. In the fall the North Metro Denver SBDC produced the first annual Adams County Small Business Conference at Front Range Community College (FRCC). The conference was a day of training, workshops and resources for the small business community. More details for all these programs can be found in this report. 

I would like to give a special thanks to the overwhelming community support our program receives. Our host FRCC, Adams County, Broomfield City & County, Arvada, Brighton, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster, the Minority Business Office, the Governor's Office of Economic Development and International trade and of course the Small Business Administration; all working in partnership to make this program a reality. 

I have the pleasure of serving a great team of consultants, trainers and staff. I cannot say enough about their dedication and ability and would like to thank them for their service. And saving the best for last, I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the small business owners we serve. As you know you are the backbone of our economy and it is our pleasure to serve you. I know what it is like to walk a million miles in your shoes, thank you for all you do and know you are appreciated - Great Job! 

2017 here we come ... 

Glenn Plagens 
North Metro Denver SBDC Senior Director 

Read the Full North Metro Denver SBDC 2016 Annual Report


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!


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.