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New Workshops at the SBDC!

We are excited to announce two new workshops being held at the Larimer SBDC!
 
Improve Your Local SEO – a 6-Step Blueprint to Boost Your Local Search Rankings 
~ Sept 26th & Nov 14th, 2019
 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a topic many small business owners know about but few truly utilize. But here’s the thing, showing up on page one of Google can be the difference between your business booming or just getting by. And, when it comes to getting your business to rank locally, utilizing Local SEO is a powerful strategy if done right. Fortunately, there are some basic (and pretty painless) steps you can take that will help your business rank locally.
This workshop will cover local search – what it is and how it will help your business. We’ll also go through six key steps to help your business win at local SEO:

     1. How to create (and optimize) your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
     2. How to build citations (and get listed on local directories).
     3. How to manage your reputation and grow online reviews with a review funnel.
     4. How to write location-based content to help your website rank well.
     5. How to implement on-page local SEO basics.
     6. What local link building is and why you need it to compete locally.

Winning Against Your Competition 
~ Nov 7th, 2019
 

You have a high quality product or service, but your competition is right there, winning the business.  In this hands-on tactical course, you’ll learn how to wind more deals by outsmarting your competition with skill.

Topics include:

  • Understanding who your REAL competition is
  • How to prepare to sell against your competition
  • Identifying your competitive advantages
  • Learning when to “cut bait”
  • Asking for the order before they do

Welcome Renee Walkup to the Larimer SBDC!

We would like to welcome Renee Walkup as a new Instructor here at the Larimer SBDC. Renee bring us a wealth of knowledge and we are excited to have her on board!

Renee is a best-selling author, speaker, and business growth consultant. She founded SalesPEAK in 1996 after working in the corporate world for 17 years. Fortune 500’s and medium-sized businesses have relied on Renee’s advice to increase revenue and productivity.

Renee’s strengths are providing tactical steps to business leaders so that they can execute gaining more commitments, establish better business relationships, and deliver compelling presentations. Her clients include: Microsoft, Bayer, Check Point Software, Coca-Cola, The Better Business Bureau, and many others.

A recent resident of Ft. Collins in 2016, Renee is a SAGE advisor through Innosphere, participates as a City volunteer, and serves on the Economic Advisory Committee Board with the Ctiy.

When not working, her passion is creating 3D mosaics, gardening, and hiking all the trails she can, while enjoying the beauty of Colorado.

Wordsmith Wood Shop Success Story

Story written by:Shelley Widhalm

Pictures by: Mike O’Connell

Owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop blend ‘creative skills’ with customer service.

Loveland area couple Gib and Lisa Coalwell made a few wooden boxes decorated with sayings but a large order put a toll on their small laser engraver.

The owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop needed to hire staff, get three more engravers and quickly learn manufacturing on a large scale. The couple blends handcrafted wood and engraved words to createheirloom boxes, bookmarks, recipe cards, coasters, magnets and cutting boards for their wholesale, retail and individual customers.

“At that point, we realized this is getting bigger than us,” Gib said.

The Coalwells received a purchase order in May 2018 that more than doubled their sales. They turned to the Larimer Small Business Development Center for advice after initially meeting with the Loveland Business Development Center in 2008 when the business was still a hobby.

“The one thing about the LBDC and the SBDC, no matter what we need next, they have it,” Lisa said.

The Coalwells originally didn’t plan to own a business but circumstances led them to combine Gib’s hobby with Lisa’s word-based career. Gib worked for 25 years in chemical manufacturing, and Lisa taught for nearly 20 years in Thompson School District, plus worked as an education reporter and freelance writer.

In 2001, Gib’s job ended with a company closure. He got a practical job but also acknowledged his love of woodwork after seeing a local artist at a craft show. He participated in his first craft show in 2001, launching Orion’s Woods named after his and Lisa’s view of the stars.

Gib started with custom-order boxes, selling them at shows, and then in 2011, a repeat customer wanted an engraved wedding gift. He hired out a laser engraver, and at Lisa’s suggestion bought one in 2012. They began engraving boxes for customers, but a year later, Lisa noticed the engraver often sat idle and suggested bookmarks with sayings to create a product supply.

“We always say it’s peanut butter and jelly that go together, Gib and Lisa and words and wood,” Lisa said.

In 2013, the Coalwells started an Etsy Marketplace online store, and with advice from the LBDC, rebranded as Wordsmith Gifts. They later became Wordsmith Wood Shop for an even better fit for their special event and location mementoes, logo branding and clever sayings and designs.

“We mix words and we mix wood. That’s what we’re at today,” Gib said.

In April 2016, the Coalwells went on a trip to Texas and stopped at a major retailer to drop off samples, receiving a large purchase order for 5,000 bookmarks. A year later, they added a second major retailer, plus started making ornaments and recipe cards, and their sales numbers doubled. Adding magnets in 2018 again resulted in another doubling of sales.

By then, the Coalwells realized they needed staff and met with Nikki Larcher, an SBDC consultant, to learn about human resources and now have five employees. They see other consultants, such as Mike O’Connell about business planning, Franklin Taggart about marketing and Amy Alcorn about social media. They also enrolled in the Small Manufacturer’s AdvantEDGE program and in April received a $6,000 scholarship. They meet with Jonathon Jaggers, a manufacturing consultant, for intensive training to develop a business plan and optimize their manufacturing processes, productivity and financial results.

“Their partnership is a blend of creative skills and excellent customer service,” Jaggers said. “They are responsive in filling their customers’ needs and requests.”

Advance Colorado Procurement Expo

The Advance Colorado Procurement Expo, now in its 10th year, is Colorado’s premier buyers and sellers marketplace! Every year, businesses are invited to participate in this day-long event, which focuses on state and local government procurement. Businesses (sellers) exhibit throughout the day to showcase their goods and services to local and state government agencies (buyers). Exhibitors are able to meet with procurement professionals from those agencies to learn how to best sell their goods and services to them. All businesses, including those owned by women, minorities and veterans, are encouraged to participate. In addition to the expo hall, training sessions are held in the afternoon on the topics of government procurement. There is also a keynote speaker during lunch, as well as engaging one-on-one sessions between buyers and sellers (by appointment only). There is no cost for government agencies (buyers) to participate. Businesses may purchase an exhibitor table or a general admission ticket. Spaces are limited and early registration is encouraged, as this event does sell out!
To view a list of buyers participating, please visit www.coprocurementexpo.com.
This event is proudly brought to you by the Minority Business Office of Colorado, State Purchasing & Contracts Office, Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Business Development Foundation.

New Consultant, Andrew Meade joins the SBDC team!

Please join us in welcoming Andrew Meade to the Larimer SBDC!

Andrew worked for over 35 years in the construction industry.  As a project manager he has built dozens of large commercial construction projects.  As a business unit manager, he ran regional profit centers for a major U.S. general contractor in Redwood City and San Jose, CA.

In 2003, Andy and some partners founded a commercial general contracting firm focused on high-tech and healthcare construction in Silicon Valley which grew rapidly to an annual volume over $50 million and more than 80
employees.  After 8 years as its President, Andy moved on to pursue other interests including small business consulting.  As a volunteer business coach with an anti-poverty entrepreneurship program, Andy spent a year in West
Africa in 2014 helping twenty local businesses develop and execute long term growth strategies.

A registered Professional Engineer and licensed General Contractor in multiple states, Andy has a BS in Civil Engineering from MIT and received a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University.

Welcome Greg Moore to the Larimer SBDC!

We are excited to announce that Greg Moore has joined the Larimer SBDC consulting team!  Greg comes to us with a wealth of knowledge including: Web Design, SEO, CRM Development, Lead Generation, Trade Show Planning & Management, Sales Management, Marketing, Advertising, Brand Building, Motivational Speaking, and Business Coaching.

From Greg:

Hello, my name is Greg Moore and I’m a family man, entrepreneur, and business coach. My superpower is the ability to find hidden profit and growth potential in ANY business.

After graduating from The University of New Mexico with a degree in Applied Mathematics, I entered the workforce as a Satellite Engineer maintaining software for the government. Later, my wife and I answered an internal desire to enter the business world, so we started our own remodeling company netting over $50 million in sales in less than a decade. Due to innovative marketing, advertising efforts, and creativity, our business was very prosperous. Much of our success was earned by our internal core belief that empowering and mentoring employees evokes a mutually beneficial environment.

Now I run a marketing and business coaching firm called AvaWing. Understanding the challenges of being an entrepreneur, such as working with little capital and the need for guided direction and quick, useful information enables me to pass my knowledge onto others. I also know that as a small business, implementing smart and economical strategies to get sales, leads, and clients is crucial.

Through conducting national workshops, 100’s of sales meetings, and pitching large corporations such as The Home Depot and Ace Hardware, I’ve gained invaluable industry knowledge. Working in the fields of Engineering, Pharmaceuticals, Chemistry, Probiotics, Photography, Hospitality, and Home Improvement also taught me substantial business expertise to offer our community.

My skills include Web Design, SEO, CRM Development, Lead Generation, Trade Show Planning & Management, Sales Management, Marketing, Advertising, Brand Building, Motivational Speaking, and Business Coaching.

Working with you to lift your entrepreneurship spirit to help you grow, build, and escalate your business will not only create higher profits, but teach you how to maximize the potential in your industry.

“Ultimately it’s all about cash flow”

“Ultimately it’s all about cash flow” by: Fred Burmont

OK, you are in business but now you have questions:

  • Why do I not have any cash since my business has profits?
  • How much can I take as my “paycheck” from my company?
  • Can I afford to hire some help?
  • What are my most profitable products (or services)?
  • How much do I need to sell to break even?
  • What do I need to do to increase profits?
  • Do I need to get a loan or line of credit?

Since 2014 I have had the opportunity to assisting more than 500 Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) clients to understand their business financial statements and better manage their business finances.

As an experienced CFO, and former small business owner, I know that of the three basic financial statements, the Cash Flow Statement reflects the “life blood” of the business and that sufficient ending cash balances are the key to a healthy business.

The Cash Flow Statement (Statement of Sources & Uses of Funds) can be derived from the historic accrual-basis Balance Sheet (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Owner Equity) and the Income Statement (“Profit & Loss Statement”).  However, I have found that many small business owners are not familiar with accrual-basis accounting–but they do keep track of their bank account on a cash-basis.

Therefore, my approach is to assist our clients in using their operating cash (checking) account as an intuitive way to plan the cash flow of their business.

I have developed a MS Excel spreadsheet “Biz Cash Flow Model” as a tool to project cash flow and ending cash balances on a monthly basis—in parallel to the business’s monthly bank statements.  There is a version for “Products-type” businesses, and one for “Service-type”.

The “Biz Cash Flow Model” is available to use free of charge by any of our SBDC clients.

Fred Burmont
Certified SBDC Business Consultant
March 27, 2019

Frederick J. (“Fred”) Burmont, a semi-retired former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and former Colorado-licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with more than 40 years’ financial management experience.  Since 2014 he has provided his services as a Certified Business Consultant for the Larimer County, Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  He specializes in assisting clients to understand, plan and manage their business finances.  He has helped clients to develop Business Plans and cash flow projections. 

s of 3/1/19 he has conducted 829 consulting sessions for 512 SBDC clients.

Previously Burmont served 5 years as the Vice President of Finance for Upstate Colorado Economic Development a not-for-profit agency devoted to supporting economic development and job opportunities in Weld and Larimer County communities. His responsibilities included managing the Weld/Larimer Counties Revolving Loan Fund, a federally-funded financing program for small businesses.

He has 25 years’ experience as a corporate finance officer including 15 years as part-owner and Financial Vice President of Chaparral Industries, Inc. a metal products manufacturing company headquartered in Denver.  He served as the CFO, responsible for all financial, strategic planning, accounting, budgeting and cash management functions.  The company grew from 10 employees and    $1 million in annual sales to 93 employees and $14 million in sales over the 15 years.

For 6 years he served as Senior Business Manager/Division Controller for Knowledge Interact, a division of Soft Bank Group/Comdex, and for 4 years as Vice President of Finance & Administration for Staodynamics, a publicly-held (NASDAQ National Market) manufacturer of FDA-approved transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation medical devices.

A native of Colorado, born and raised in Denver, he is a graduate of the University of Colorado with a BS degree in Business, majoring in Accounting and Finance, and the University of Denver, Graduate School of Business Administration, with a Certificate in Marketing Research. 

4 Big Ideas for Selling Your Product Online

by Sari Kimbell

Ecommerce is one of the areas I get asked a lot about when I work with food businesses. It is tempting to think that if you just build it they will come and then a month or two later they are wondering why product isn’t flying of the digital shelf.

I knew I wanted to dive into this topic more and go over the high-level ideas around setting up an ecommerce store and choosing the best platforms for your type of product.  Since this presentation was part of Artup Week, my goal was to keep the presentation broad enough for artisans of all kinds making a physical product they wanted to sell online.  I was so fortunate to connect with Ben McConnell of Blue Parable who specializes in helping clients set up and see success in the world of ecommerce.  We got to work last December to map out the ideas and I quickly realized that I needed to take my own advice that I give to my clients and turn it over to an expert.  I know a lot about ecommerce, at least enough to be dangerous, but Ben is THE expert.

With only 45 minutes, we broke it down to four big ideas we wanted everyone to come away with

  1. Myths of Ecommerce
  2. Opportunity is Big
  3. 4 Platforms to Know
  4. Your Business is Unique

My favorite part of the presentation is around the myths of ecommerce. I see clients fall into both of these a lot.

  1. An ECommerce business is cheaper to operate than a brick and mortar business
  2. An solopreneur can make millions of dollars selling online

The reality is that no one can really operate as a true solopreneur, doing everything well, at least not for very long. I thought this slide illustrated all of the things an ecommerce entrepreneur needs to do. This just reinforced the theme that came up for me throughout Startup Week is that you can’t, and shouldn’t, go it alone.  Get expert help and focus your resources on doing what you are really good at.

The other takeaway is just how big the opportunity is.  But you have to find your customers by being on the right platforms and investing in your business with some marketing initiatives.

We did record the presentation, but it isn’t “mic’ed” so it is a little hard to hear. You can also get the handout we gave out here or get the whole presentation here.

Following the presentation we had a panel discussion with Ben, Charity of TechKnow and also an ecommerce business owner and Lukas Matthews of Twin Scroll Marketing, an Amazon optimization service.

I am also including some links to articles I have read recently about selling on Amazon that may be of interest to you:

Pie Shell Blog here about selling on Amazon

Amazon pushes for more exclusive products here

QuickBooks for Small Business Owners – Online and Desktop Versions

QuickBooks for Small Business Owners - Online and Desktop Versions | Digital Workshop CenterQuickBooks for small business owners is recognized as an industry leader in accounting software, helping you keep track of bookkeeping, inventory, payroll, expenses, sales, and more. QuickBooks not only provides easy ways to manage accounting, it also offers marketing solutions, real-time reporting, year-to-year comparisons, data tracking functions, and more. QuickBooks should be at the top of the list for business owners and those seeking to upskill their accounting resumes of programs to learn and understand how they function.

One of the first steps to learning QuickBooks is to understand the different program levels and available versions of the program. QuickBooks offers both an online and desktop version of their program, as well as different membership levels depending on what features you want the program to have.

To help you decide which is best for your business, understand the main differences between the QuickBooks online and desktop versions: 

    1. Fees: Quickbooks online offers a free 30-day trial period; while the desktop software must be purchased before use. Desktop has a one-time upfront cost, but the online version has different monthly pricing levels depending on use and needs. The desktop version may include upgrade costs to meet your business’s complete needs. Determine what your QuickBooks will need to do and how you or your business will be using the software before deciding.
    2. Access: QuickBooks online is a cloud-based software, meaning as long as you have a good internet connection, you can access your books anywhere, anytime. QuickBooks desktop, on the other hand, is only available on the computers it is installed on.
    3. Program Functions: The basic functions of QuickBooks online vs. desktop are the same in terms of invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, and so on, but the online version actually provides more included features than desktop. Compare the features of each here.
    4. Support: The online version of QuickBooks comes with free support; the standard desktop version does not have included support unless you upgrade to the Pro Plus edition.
    5. Customizability: Both the online and desktop version of QuickBooks offer some degree of customizability. However, if your business must account for calculating and rebilling of job costs or needs to calculate discounts by customer, the desktop version is the only of of the two that can currently do so at this time.
    6. As with anything, both the QuickBooks desktop and online versions each have their own high and low points. QuickBooks Desktop makes sense for businesses who are concerned with the following:
      1. Security: If you want to keep your data off the cloud and only in your office, the desktop version may be best for your business.  
      2. Simplicity: If your business has a fixed office location and only needs to give access to a handful of users, desktop might right for you.
      3. Costs: To avoid the monthly recurring fee, desktop is the only answer.
      4. Custom Features: If your business needs to include customer discounts or complex job costing, the desktop version is a better choice.

QuickBooks Online might be right for businesses needing:

  1. Remote Access: If you need to access your books at any point, anywhere, the online version is better able to meet this need.
  2. Multiple Users: If your books need to be accessed by multiple people at the same time, the online version is better able to handle this.
  3. Support: If easy-to-access support is important for your business, the online version provides more support options.
  4. Features: The online version offers more included features for users in terms of automation, applications, and the like.

Regardless if you decide to utilize the online or desktop version of QuickBooks, having a deep understanding how the program functions is valuable for your small business or accounting career. If you’re ready to learn more about QuickBooks and it’s features and how to effectively use it, consider taking a course at the Digital Workshop Center. We offer classes for both the online and desktop version in a group setting or in a one-on-one basis in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado. By joining us for our QuickBooks classes, business owners will  learn the skills you need to successfully manage your small business accounting, how to optimize both the online or desktop QuickBooks versions, generate critical business reports. Applicants will learn the skills necessary to succeed in an bookkeeping or accounting job. Learn more about the QuickBooks classes offered at the Digital Workshop Center and register today!