SBDC Template

Blog

Top 5 Business Leasing Tips

Monday, February 15, 2016
by Kat Rico

Leasing property is confusing, but it gets exponentially more complicated at the business level. At one point or another, many businesses are likely to need to rent property, either for a retail storefront, manufacturing or for storage. What do you need to know? What should you expect from your landlord? Here are five great tips to help you get started asking the right questions when it comes to leasing property as a business owner:
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.

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 303-460-1032, or send us a request at:http://www.northmetrosbdc.com/consulting.

Denver Escape Room

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Setting the Pace to Scale

Story: Kat Rico
Photography: Alicja Mazurek

For many businesses, being first to market is essential to their success. When owner Brian Lacertosa of the Denver Escape Room began planning his venture, there was nothing like it in the state of Colorado, but by the time he launched he was third to market in Denver. That didn’t stop his momentum though; just a year after opening his first location he has already opened a second location in Phoenix, Arizona, and by the end of 13 months he is slated to have an additional four locations open.

“The challenge with escape rooms is defining what we are,” said Brian, “there’s a disconnect between explaining it and actually doing it.” Denver Escape Room has four rooms, each with unique stories. You enter a room, receive a debriefing of the story, and use that information to gather the clues to unlock the storyline further. In one room, you’re part of a tactical response unit, in another you’re part of a team trying to shut down a rogue supercomputer. When your time is up, if you haven’t solved the room, staff will give you the complete solution. This is done so there’s no incentive to re-do the room, which could ruin the experience for another guest.

Brian has been a business owner for over 10 years, previously doing internet sales. He brought the idea home with him after participating in an escape room in New York, and in the year he’s been in operation, the market in Colorado has grown from 3 rooms to more than 17 across the state. About six months after opening, Brian hired Cody Borst as a game designer. “What we really want is for people to have fun. If they don’t, then they’ll have a bad impression of escape rooms and never try another.” With over 900 hours of work going in to their latest room, Crimson Storm, the rigorous testing process helps ensure a great guest experience. “I came in the other night and my staff handed me a puzzle, and I was immediately frustrated, in a good way,” said Brian.

What makes the Denver Escape Room unique is their ability to hold corporate training and teambuilding events. They have a large conference room and a certified corporate trainer that helps them create an engaging experience for businesses. “It’s much more than getting people together to play games,” explained Brian. Teams play through a room with a trainer watching via CCTV, then receive feedback on their team dynamics, and try a second room to see if they took the feedback. The process is interactive and can jumpstart a new program or worked into an existing program.

While he was planning the business, Brian began working with the North Metro Denver SBDC. “My consultant was such a valuable resource. It was great having someone I could call up and say, ‘Hey, I need some help with this. Got anyone in mind?’” Brian’s consultant even connected him to a group of angel investors, and although the pitch fell short, he learned some valuable lessons. “Trying and failing actually made me better prepared for the pitches that were successful.”

When asked about how they’ve been able to expand so rapidly, Brian said, “I’m very fortunate because I’ve got the right people. My staff has allowed me to expand. We were hitting 3 year goals within 6 months.” Game designer Cody explained further, “It’s important that we scale with the industry. We’ve paid attention to the international popularity of escape rooms, and it seems single shops die out. Larger businesses with standardized models last longer.” Right now, the Denver Escape Room employs 10 people, and Brian is excited to see the growth of the business. “It’s great to bring something totally new and very cool to Northglenn, and it’s helped other businesses in the area as well. We’ve won several awards, but recently winning the Northglenn People’s Choice was the best.”

Keep up with the Denver Escape Room or book a time at: www.DenverEscapeRoom.com


10+ Retail Holiday Marketing Tips

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our partner location the Larimer SBDC recently held a "Retail Holiday Boot Camp" after hours event. Presenter Alyson MacMullan of Peak Retail Group gave some great takeaways that we wanted to share 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! 

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

Call for Small Business Instructors!

Monday, September 28, 2015

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

Marty Holladay
marty.holladay@frontrange.edu
Program Coordinator
North Metro Denver 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!

Welcome to Access Broomfield Chamber

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

From: Access Broomfield Chamber

In November of last year, we held our annual Board Planning Session.  Just like any other business or industry, we continually work very hard to maintain our relevance in the community.  We learned something very important that day.  We needed to address our messaging. This July marked the third anniversary of the Chamber's Business Resource Center.  Yet, there is still confusion about the BRC.  The perception is that it is a separate entity from the Chamber.  The Chamber's Business Resource Center is something we are very proud of and want to make sure we feature it prominently as one of our most successful programs. 

Plus, as a Chamber in our 55th year, we want to do a better job of celebrating the successes of our Members and communicating the positive impact we have on our community.  We also want to do a better job of promoting the partnerships and resources that collaborate with us to ensure the success of our business community.  It's through our Members, partners, resources and collaborators that we are able to provide the access needed to strengthen our community and help our businesses succeed.  Very few organizations are able to leverage this kind of access. 

It was this revelation that put a spotlight on the new direction we are going.  Today we begin unveiling our new logo and will soon launch our new website along with our plans to continue to embrace being a Chamber for the 21st Century and addressing the needs of the five generations currently in the workforce.  
 
As a business ourselves, we face the same challenges as many of our Members.  We know the importance of making connections, building relationships, providing support, creating promotional opportunities and opportunities for personal and professional growth.  We cannot do any of these things without the financial support of our Members.  They make everything we do possible and share in our success.

We began the year with our Annual Dinner that focused on Innovation.  This will be our most innovative step to date as we plan to blaze new trails for the future of our Chamber, our Members and our community.

Jennifer Kerr

President & CEO



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

Friday, September 04, 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:

Friday, October 2 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Quick Books Step 1 - Getting Started 
Brighton 
Friday October 9 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Quick Books Step 2 - Setting Preferences
Brighton
Tuesday, October 13 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Tax 101
Westminster
Monday, October 19 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Accounting Basics Designed for Entrepreneurs (2 Sessions)
Westminster

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

Click here to request an appointment.


Leading Edge Fall 2015 Registration Open

Thursday, August 20, 2015
Spring 2015 Leading Edge Graduates

Starting a business is not for the faint-hearted. Most of us were never taught to be business owners: we were taught to be employees. This 10 week course is designed to help entrepreneurs develop a business strategy and/or business plan through a discovery process that starts with a business concept, moves to designing and testing for a viable (profitable) business structure that results in a executable plan of action (business plan). It is in a blended learning format that combines an online learning platform with classroom time. The online learning platform will be filled not only with the information needed to write a business plan, but to actually start and run a business. Class time will be dedicated to interactive learning exercises and guest experts to act as guides for your business success. Depending on individual needs, you will complete either a formal written business plan or an internal working strategy that outlines actionable steps with measurable outcomes and time-bound deadlines. The course registration fee includes one participant and access to the online training materials and business resource library.

For multiple registration or more information, please call 303-460-1032 after your initial registration. Unregistered guests will not be admitted to the course. Seating is limited. 

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • - Peer learning with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs
  • - Minimum of five hours of one-on-one consulting assistance
  • - Access to an online resource library with videos, white papers, financial spreadsheets and templates to help you build your plan of action
  • - Ten three-hour weekly classroom sessions including interactive group work and guest speakers; plus reading assignments, online presentations, group discussion forums, and homework assignments
  • - Introduction to potential lenders at a funding options panel
  • - Feedback on your business plan or strategy three times during the course
  • - Entry into a business plan competition for a chance to win prizes and have your business plan reviewed by a banker and an accountant
  • - Optional participation in Trout Tank, a pitch event held one month after graduation where you will pitch your idea to lenders and receive feedback from a panel 

IMPORTANT DATES 

Free Info Session | September 15, 2015 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm | Click here to register
Registration Deadline | September 26, 2015
Weekly Course Sessions | September 29, 2015 - December 8, 2015 (Skips November 24)
Tuesday evenings | 6:00 pm - 9:00 p.m.

10-week course
$495 Regular Course Fee
Additional Guest - Please call 303-460-1032

Register for the Fall 2015 10-Week Course


» Notify me when the next class is scheduled



North Metro Denver SBDC 2nd Quarter Update

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Photos courtesy of Kim Liddard
By Kat Rico

On July 29th, the North Metro Denver SBDC held its second quarter consultant and facilitator training. Between the main Westminster office at Front Range Community College (FRCC), Brighton and Broomfield satellites, the North Metro Denver SBDC reported year to date consulting hours of 1,116, with reported 16 business starts, $799,000 in new capital formation, $1.2 million in increased sales and 38 jobs created through July 2015. 

During this meeting, two key players from the SBDC were recognized for their contributions towards these goals. Jon Jaggers, who was previously awarded “Consultant of the Year” in 2014 for the Colorado SBDC Network, was awarded “Consultant of the Year” by the North Metro Denver SBDC. He has been a crucial component in the developing manufacturing program that aims to help small businesses implement LEAN processes and secure better contracts, allowing these businesses to grow faster. 

Linda Kielian was recognized as the North Metro Denver SBDC “MVP.” She has been with the SBDC for about two years in a part-time capacity. Her efforts are largely behind the scenes, coordinating many of the administrative and financial processes that are needed to run classes, complete reporting and more. 

The North Metro Denver SBDC at FRCC is looking towards the future and the growth of the manufacturing program and our continued impact throughout 2015.  

Wesminster Office Move

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our main office, located on the Front Range Community College Westminster campus, has recently moved. We are very excited for this move because it has all at once expanded the amount of space we have and brought our team closer together. We have two dedicated consulting offices, along with a multi-function room where we will be able to hold smaller, focused training classes. 





Our new location is just off of Entrance 5 (see map below), with the closest parking lot being the Lowell parking lot. 



Along with this great new space that we are settling in to, our walls are getting a ‘face lift’ as well. As you enter and wait for an appointment or class to start, stop by and read our consultant biographies. These are also available on our website, but as you can see from in this picture, it’s pretty impressive when we get all 20+ of them gathered in one space. You may find a consultant that specializes in exactly the type of assistance you need!

     


Also in our consulting offices along with the multi-function room, we have posters featuring some of our “Success Story” clients. Their stories serve as inspiration for other entrepreneurs as well as showcase the impact that we’ve had on our client businesses. As we continue the “Success Story” series, we will begin to swap out the stories so that anyone who visits our office can see what we’re up to.



In the near future, our consulting offices will only get more functional as we add whiteboards and more materials to help make the meetings more productive. Our multi-function room will also get a whiteboard, along with a television so we can demonstrate the techniques we’re teaching in a more interactive manner.

Please watch for changes around our Westminster office as we strive to bring you high quality consulting and training in support of local small businesses.

Chopsticks Vietnamese Restaurant

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What makes a new restaurant unique? A flashy space, an artisan menu? At Chopsticks Vietnamese Restaurant in Brighton, Colorado, it takes a careful balance of fresh food, community and family, brought together by owner Hieu Nguyen. The menu is straight from the streets of Saigon, created by her aunt, Khue Tran, who spent 18 years in Vietnamese restaurants before coming to the United States. At Chopsticks, you won’t find a recipe book or canned sauces; they pride themselves on making everything on the menu from scratch, right down to the fish sauce. 

As of July 2015, Chopsticks has been open for about two months. Several times each week, Hieu heads to market to buy fresh vegetables for the restaurant, which are all cut to order for each dish. They also use a fresh wok for each dish, making it easy to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions. “It is a lot of work, but definitely worth it,” says Hieu. This commitment to freshness and cleanliness comes from a deep desire to provide excellent customer service to their community. “We strive to provide a cozy environment where everyone and his or her family will feel at home enjoying authentic and flavorful Vietnamese food.”

Hieu was born in Vietnam and came to the United States at 9 years old, eventually graduating from CU Denver with degrees in International Business and Accounting. She noticed while working in the banking industry she had increasingly little time to spend with her family, which is what inspired her to open the restaurant. “It gives the whole family a chance to work together. With five family members here, work-life balance becomes easier and we get to spend more time together.” 

Getting to opening day posed several challenges. They needed assistance with paperwork, marketing ideas and a network of support, which Hieu says the SBDC was crucial in providing. Simply put, “Without the SBDC, we wouldn’t be open.” An unforeseen challenge of the restaurant was that other than Hieu’s aunt and mom, none of the family had worked food service before. “We had to learn the rhythm of the family,” says Hieu, “and it nearly drove us crazy!” After a rocky two weeks, the family smoothed out the bumps in the road much to the enjoyment of their developing regular customer base. Beyond getting to know their customers, Hieu’s favorite part of the process has been building their menu. “My aunt creates all of the dishes from scratch, so we had to give a lot of feedback. We have over 100 dishes on the menu!” Her favorite item is the taro boba tea: a fruity, Vietnamese smoothie with chewy tapioca balls at the bottom.

Although the process has been challenging, Hieu encourages other entrepreneurs to take a chance. “Just do it! Don’t be afraid or you’ll regret it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are always people willing to help.”