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Steps For Starting A Small Business in Colorado

Steps For Starting A Small Business in Colorado

At Region 10, we’ll be the first ones to say that starting a small business is no easy task. It requires a great deal of planning, persistence, and a true passion for what you do. That’s why we launched our non-profit organization back in 1972; we saw a need for more small business resources throughout Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel county. It is our mission to help people who are starting their own businesses get the small business loans and business development guidance they need to get on their feet.

Here at Region 10, we pride ourselves on the success we’ve had helping locals in these six communities bring their small business plans to life. From getting them small business loans and helping them develop a business plan to hosting small business courses through the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC), we’ve helped hundreds of local, non-profit, and small businesses over the years. Considering joining our Business Loan Fund (BLF) or Registering for Business Assistance? Here are some steps to follow as you start your small business with us.

Do Plenty Of Research

Aside from deciding you’re ready to make your small business dreams a reality, the first real step toward starting your own business is doing plenty of background research. Read about different business entities and decide which kind best fits your goals. Consider whether you’d like to be the sole proprietor of the business or you need others to help you take it on as a limited liability company (LLC). This decision will determine the taxes and liability associated with your business, so be sure to do your research and make an informed decision.

After figuring out what kind of business you’re going to start, do some research about Colorado business registration and trademarking your business name, what licenses and permits you need, which building to rent in your area, and how to your manage funds with an accounting system. It’s critical for aspiring small business owners to conduct this basic research about starting a small business so they know what they’re getting into before it’s too late.

Identify Your Purpose

All technicalities aside, it’s also important to look up your competitors and identify your target audience. Ask yourself: “What makes my competitors successful?” and “Who am I trying to target with my product/service and how can I reach them?” These questions are critical to understanding the industry you’re trying to break into, and a little research goes a long way when you take the time to break it all down in the brainstorming phase.

All too often, aspiring small business owners miss the mark and market their business to the wrong audience, giving their competitors the upperhand. To avoid this and give yourself a far better chance at success, sit yourself down with a pad and paper and outline exactly what you are trying to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

Of course, there are plenty of resources available to help you do this, and you should never hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to attend one of our classes about marketing strategy and planning, branding your business, customer service, or any other aspect of starting a small business that targets the right consumers. We would be happy to share our knowledge and experiences with you!

Develop A Business Plan

Once you’ve done your initial research about the technicalities associated with starting a small business and identified your purpose, it’s time to develop a solid business plan. Essentially, this is your step-by-step plan of execution for how you will start and maintain a successful small business in Colorado. In this document, you’ll include your company description, source of revenue, your products and services, your strategy, your financial plan, and more.

This varies by business, of course, so if you find yourself getting stuck or aren’t sure what to include, look up the business plans of competitors in your industry and model yours after them. Or, if you would like professional guidance, attend a small business course at the SBRC about how to write a business plan and then implement the things you learned.

Find A Source Of Funding

Finding the funds to start a small business can be tricky and even frustrating at times, given that only a fraction of aspiring small business owners actually have the money required to get started. Luckily, there are many funding options available for startup businesses in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel county, and we can help you get the funds you need through our Business Loan Fund.

As a non-profit, Region 10 has formed its BLF from the Colorado Development Block Grants, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, the USDA Intermediary Relending Program, and Repaid or “Revolved” Loans. Our partnerships with these organizations have allowed us to provide small business loans to hundreds of local, non-profit, and small businesses in these six communities over the last few decades, and we would be happy to consider your application if you are eligible. If you are interested in applying for a small business loan with our BLF, fill out the Application Information and Business Plan Essentials sheet and build a business plan using the SBA template and tutorial.

Assemble Your Team & Start Promoting Your Business

Now it’s time for the fun part! Once you have all the technicalities in order, you can put your team to work and start promoting your business. You’ll need to create a unique selling proposition, a marketing plan, and think up other ways to promote your business, which you should have fun and be creative and with. Think of all the work you’ve put into your small business up to this point and how you’re starting to see it pay off. Take pride in your accomplishments and celebrate them with your team while you embark on this adventure together. Trust our business experts at Region 10 when we say that you earned it, and contact us for any small business development help you may need along the way!

Signs Your Small Business Will Succeed

Getting a business off the ground can be a bit tricky. Here at Region 10, we know this intimately, but that’s also why we are here. We offer business resources and classes for Montrose, Hinsdale, Ouray, Gunnison, Salida, San Miguel, and Delta County at our range of regional offices. If you’ve gotten your small business up and running, or are looking to start one, and want to know how your business is doing, we have a range of signs to give you a basic idea. None of these are guaranteed to tell you if your business will succeed, but a healthy income and these signs are good indicators.

You’re Not the Only Person Doing the Work

If you are working on your business and you’re alone, it’s best to get a bit of help. Doing things the hard way can work for a bit, but covering everything from accounting to running the counter and doing inventory is beyond difficult, it’s irresponsible and mistakes are bound to be made. A select few people can do this for a time, but the bottom line is that this isn’t scalable and, eventually, you will need to hire on more people. Being able to trust others in elements of your day-to-day running of the business is important and helps the business thrive in a variety of ways.

Your Business is Flexible

Having a solid business plan is important, but being able to make adjustments when issues are found in the plan or structure of the business is critical. By being able to make changes in business, you can adjust as necessary and find what really makes your business thrive.

You Make Decisions with Legal, Marketing, and Accounting in Mind

Every single choice you make will affect your company. If you have a big idea for a new product, service, hire, or whatnot, having your legal, marketing, and accounting specialist or departments in agreement, it means it’s a good call and a good sign. These three areas not only affect each other, but are critical to your success. Marketing can give you feedback about your services, products, and outreach. Legal specialists can help you understand potential legal issues and how to avoid them. Your accountant will inform you about the financial impacts of the move and their benefits. If you are making big decisions with these three areas in agreement, you’re on the right track.

You Plan For the Future

Looking at quarterly goals is important but, a business that only looks at the short term will almost always fail. As you get started, remember to plan out your business’s big steps. Keep in mind that there are often hold-ups and market fluctuations that businesses have to weather. Having a solid business plan from the get-go and keeping it up to date as you go along can help you to keep a solid plan and idea for how to weather the worst of it.

Your Network is Growing

As your business grows, your network and resources should grow with it. Reach out to regional organizations and increase your reach online and in social media. These days businesses make it or break it largely from their online presence. If your networks are constantly expanding then you are doing it right and your reach will help to keep you afloat whether your business is E-commerce or local business in scale.

You’re Receiving and Responding to Customer Complaints

When you get customer feedback, it’s good to look for patterns. If a lot of people are complimenting one aspect and critiquing another, and you are changing it, then you’re ahead of the curve. An adaptive business that listens to customers is a great way to turn from a good business to a great business, and often times that is the difference in success.

You Invest in Your Business

Any business can use constant upgrades and investments. This can mean extra help, more marketing, or better equipment. But having an eye for what is needed and where, and then getting what your business needs, when you can afford it, is a great way to know that your business won’t stagnate.

Although none of these signs are guarantees of success, they are good to keep in mind when reflecting on your business practice and growth. If you live in Montrose, Hinsdale, Ouray, Gunnison, Salida, San Miguel, or Delta County in Colorado, Region 10 is the small business resource center for you.

Region 10: Small Business Mistakes to Avoid in Colorado

Starting a small business isn’t easy. But nothing worth doing was ever easy. If you plan on becoming a successful small business, then you need to be able to avoid making the mistakes that small businesses often make. What follows is our list of tips for small business owners. There is certainly more to it than this, but the basics are here. If you are interested in more, we at Region 10 offer small business training and classes, along with a wide range of small business resources and small business loan and grant opportunities.

Not Doing Your Research

One of the most important aspects of any large venture, let alone starting a business, is knowing what you are getting into. Oftentimes, a business starts as an idea, and then gets in trouble as unexpected and unforeseen issues come up which can quickly land the business in trouble in a number of ways. Before you start a business it is best to start by doing research. If you are reading this right now, then you are on the right track. A successful business requires insurances across a range of areas, licensing, inspections, an address, a property, a legal entity (like LLC or sole proprietorship), startup capital, equipment, employees, and a range of legal and financial obligations that it must meet. When starting a business, talking to other business owners can give you a much better idea of what you should be looking at. If you do this well enough, you should already have most of this list in consideration.

Starting a Business Without an Official Legal Entity

It’s tempting to go from idea to action, because it’s not illegal, but it’s also not smart. By creating a legal entity for any businesslike endeavor is a very smart move. Different entities provide different but similar legal frameworks in which to operate, but all of them provide perks to different degrees. Like before, research is key. For instance, an LLC can provide you with limited legal protection from debts and obligations of the business, but a sole proprietorship does not. Similarly, owning an LLC requires you to be a US Citizen in the United States. But this is not a requirement of an S Corporation. Getting a business started is surprisingly cheap. Starting an LLC here in Colorado takes a mere $70.

Not Enough Capital When Starting out

Starting any business is not cheap. That’s why people often times opt for business loans to help them get started. Before you take out your business loan, you need to plan for how much money that will take. When doing the math, remember that there will be hard times, licenses of different types will take time, and depending on your location, may have to come from different county or city entities.

Not Planning for the Down Times

This is a critical element to starting a small business. When you are running your budget you need to take in all of your assumed start up costs, then have a good estimation of how much you will take in based off of market projections. If it looks like you will make twice as much money as you will cost in your first year, then you might succeed. Businesses will have good times and bad times. Sometimes a good business model with great products can fail because the owners didn’t adequately prepare for the down times.

Partnering with Friends and not Business Partners

When people enter into a business they are entering a legal partnership with requirements to meet, much like a marriage. When in a partnership it is important to treat your partner as a business partner, because that is what you two are. Joking and friendship are great but can really get in the way of honest communication and effective decision making. If you are set on creating a partnership make sure that it is not a 50/50 partnership, Having a 51% and 49% partnership or similar can be an effective way to prevent infighting because at least one person can make decisions during a tie.

Knowing the Industry but not the Market

Many small business owners are guilty of this. You might be the best painter in all of Delta county, but if no one has heard of you and you don’t have a way of entering the market, your business will suffer. Many people starting a business, are excellent at their trade but lack the understanding of the market around them. Here at Region 10, we offer a range of marketing and market analysis classes in order to teach new generations of Coloradan businesses how to thrive against all odds.

We hope that these tips can effectively get you started down the road to small business success. Here at Region 10, we serve Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel County in the Mountain west of Colorado by providing small business loans, classes, and other resources to help our small business get off the ground and thriving. Contact us today to learn more!

Region 10 Posts Broadband Equipment RFP

Region 10 has re-posted its Request For Proposal for Network Equipment. Funding for this RFP includes software and licensing costs required to meet the minimum specifications for operational readiness during the first year of operations.

This Request for Proposal is to solicit proposals from qualified vendors who can provide the required network equipment to complete the Region 10 Middle Mile Network in Colorado. The network equipment will include layer 3 switches, routers, network monitoring equipment and software, and other related equipment. This is an equipment and installation bid.

This project is partially funded with Federal Funds from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and therefore is subject to the Federal laws and regulations associated with that program.

Request for Proposal documents and details on the award process can be found on the Region 10 electronic bid site: www.bidnetdirect.com/colorado/Region 10leap;  or by emailing Chris Kennedy, Region 10 Broadband Project Director at chris@region10.net.

Safe Online Shopping

Safe Online Shopping

‘Tis the season for excessive shopping and since many people will purchase their holiday gifts online, this is a good time to brush up on some internet safety tips. Here are a few reminders for protecting your personal and financial information while shopping online:

  • Don’t share your banking information while using free public Wi-Fi or public computers.
  • Only shop on secure sites that begin with “https” and/or display a padlock in your browser.
  • Verify the reputation of the online merchant. If you are unsure about a merchant do your research.
  • Make sure your computer and browser security features are installed and updated.
  • Confirm a working customer service phone number in case you have issues with the product.
  • Avoid shopping for a product based on unsolicited emails, texts or pop-up advertisements.
  • Be suspicious if you are shopping for a product and one site is offering unbelievably lower prices than any other site. They may be trying to collect personal information or sell knock-off products.
  • Read the fine print, terms, and conditions and return policy before finalizing any purchase.
  • Only use a credit card when shopping online, avoid any less conventional forms of payment like money orders.
  • Keep a record of your purchase on file in case you need to reference it in the future.
  • Regularly check your credit card statements to ensure all transactions are authorized by you.

If you are concerned about the safety and security of your information online, you always have the option to shop over the phone or in a store. To report online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center visit www.ic3.gov or call an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer specialist.

800-222-4444

www.aarpelderwatch.org

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

Data Breaches + Identity Theft

In recent years, we have dealt with major data breaches at hospitals, retail stores, and government offices. In September, we learned Equifax’s data was breached, potentially affecting millions of people. While these breaches are alarming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim of identity theft. It does mean that you should take precautionary measures to protect your identity.

The following are some steps to consider taking:

  • Review your annual credit report. Call 877-322- 8228 or visit annualcreditreport.com.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and lasts for 90 days. Contact one bureau only. www.Equifax.com (800-525- 6285) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (800-680- 7289)
  • Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call (866-447-7559) to learn more about the breach and if your information was affected.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your file. You will have to request to remove the freeze if you apply for credit. You must contact all three bureaus. Fee to freeze and lift applies. www.Equifax.com (800-349- 9960) www.Experian.com (888-397- 3742) www.TransUnion.com (888-909- 8872)
  • Monitor your credit card and bank statements.
  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or emails appearing to come from Equifax, the other credit bureaus or financial institutions.

If you have questions about any of these precautionary measures, don’t hesitate to contact an AARP Foundation ElderWatch volunteer at 800-222-4444 option 2.

800-222- 4444
www.aarpelderwatch.org

Source: AARP Foundation

 

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Broadband Update- Fall 2017

Notice of Final Settlement and Certification of Completion was issued for the Delta construction. Final construction audit is underway for the City of Montrose. Both communities are “live” and Anchor activations continue.

Region 10 and FastTrack Communications continue to develop operations planning while the Operations and Maintenance contract is under legal review. It is anticipated that the contract will be executed in mid-November.

The EDA Equipment Request for Proposal (RFP) draft was approved by Economic Development Administration (EDA) last week. The proposal has been published on the Rocky Mountain Bid Network and the pre-bid conference was completed Monday, October 2. In conjunction with the publishing of the RFP, the Tri-State Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) agreement is slated to be on the Tri-State board’s docket for their November board meeting.

In Gunnison County, the 10G circuit from CenturyLink has been installed tested and turned up. Region 10 Network equipment has been installed on the Western State campus and the link is active. Provisioning for use at the university is underway and live traffic should be underway in the next two weeks. Construction estimates for the Carrier Neutral Location’s (CNL) in Gunnison and Crested Butte will be finalized on Tuesday, October 3 for consideration by the Local Technology Group. Anchor construction estimates are being finalized and will be issued prior to the next Local Technology Group meeting.

Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) continues to work on easement perfections in Delta and Montrose counties and is making great progress. We are currently involved in discussions for fiber access at CNL locations in Paonia, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, and Crawford in an effort to eliminate overbuilding existing assets and further developing the partnership. We continue to work on construction estimates for Montrose County to add anchor locations and determine how best to partner to deliver service to Olathe, working together with the county and DMEA.

Fiber access options for Ridgway and Ouray continue to be explored with Zayo, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), Tri-State, and DMEA. An engineering order has been submitted for a 10Gbps wave from Montrose to Ridgway. We fully expect to complete CNL locations in both communities this year.

Crested Butte Yoga Studio Gets a Boost from Region 10’s Loan Fund

Crested Butte Yoga Studio Gets a Boost from Region 10’s Loan Fund

Yoga for the Peaceful in downtown Crested Butte has offered yoga classes for residents and visitors alike for the past 10 years. In June, new owner Brittany Phelps opened a second yoga studio geared toward the local, full-time residents of CB South, Crested Butte’s bedroom community seven miles south of town.

Phelps sought to remodel a 600-square foot garage space to house her new yoga studio at 310 Elcho Avenue. She contacted Crested Butte Bank seeking a $10,000 business loan to do the remodel and purchase yoga mats and other props. As a new business, however, with no credit history and possessing few assets, she was unable to get a bank loan, she said.

Crested Butte Bank steered Phelps in the right direction when it encouraged her to contact Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning in Montrose.

Phelps met with Region 10 Business Loan Fund director Dan Scinto, who explained the process of obtaining a small business loan, looked over her business plan, and assessed whether she would be able to pay back the $10,000 loan.

“We were able to approve the loan,” Scinto said. “Region 10’s Loan Fund fills the gap that exists in the banking industry.”

Since 1972, Region 10’s Business Loan Fund has helped 250 local businesses and nonprofits with more than $9 million in loans.

“We like to leverage public and private dollars on projects that we work on,” Scinto said. “We typically work in partnership with banks on projects,” though sometimes, like in Phelps’ case the Loan Fund is the sole lender.

Within a few weeks of acquiring the loan, the remodel was completed, and Phelps was in business. CB South’s Yoga for the Peaceful grand opening took place June 6 – an event Scinto attended.

“The Loan Fund takes a vested interest in the business’s success,” Scinto said. “It’s a place to develop a business and technical relationship.”

Phelps has already hired five yoga instructors and plans to employ six additional teachers this fall.  The studio offers different styles of yoga, and 20 different classes, ranging from beginner level to intermediate. Phelps is also looking to become a teacher-training center; she already offers workshops in various specialties.

“Our slogan is ‘all types of yoga for all types of bodies,” Phelps said.

Phelps started repayment of the loan two months after she closed on it.

“It was very affordable,” she said. “Interest rates are half of what they would be at a large bank.”

Region 10’s assistance didn’t end there. Phelps has continued to consult Scinto and Region 10’s Small Business Resource Center about various issues, such as bookkeeping and marketing.

“Region 10 is such a strong asset and resource for me as a small business owner,” Phelps said.

It’s important to note that Region 10’s Business Loan Fund program provides ongoing technical assistance throughout the term of the loan, Scinto said.

Region 10 Business Loan Fund serves 18 local communities in San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Hinsdale, Gunnison and Delta counties.

For more information visit: www.region10.net/blf/. Scinto can be reached at (970) 765-3126, or email: dan@region10.net

To see a schedule of classes, or for more information about yoga in Crested Butte and CB South, visit www.yogaforthepeaceful.com.

How to Avoid Medicare Fraud

How to Avoid Medicare Fraud

Medicare Fall Open Enrollment is October 15 through December 7, 2017.  Use this opportunity to evaluate your Medicare options and compare plans. Decide whether you want to enroll in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan and compare Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D drug plans.

Be aware of enrollment fraud. If you find yourself in one of the following situations, remember that you have rights as a Medicare beneficiary:

  • Are you being pressured to join a plan? If you are feeling a lot of pressure to join a plan, remember that you have a right to choose how you receive Medicare coverage. You can choose between a Medicare Advantage Plan and Original Medicare, and you can enroll in any Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D plan that is offered in your area. You have the whole length of Fall Open Enrollment to make choices about your health coverage, and you will not receive extra benefits for enrolling early. If a plan representative is pressuring you, or if you just need more time to review your options, tell them that you will follow up with them later to make a decision. You can receive unbiased counseling about your plan options from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). To find and contact your SHIP, visit www.shiptacenter.org or call 877-839-2675.
  • Do you believe you might be receiving false information? Plans cannot falsely represent themselves to get you to enroll. Before making a final choice about your coverage, confirm all the information a plan has given you. For example, if a plan agent tells you that all of your providers are in-network, check with your providers to see if this is true. Whenever possible, rely on information from government websites ( a website that ends in .gov) and emails, seek unbiased counseling from your SHIP, and get information about the full range of plans available in your area by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. Additionally, remember that a plan cannot claim to be endorsed by Medicare or to represent Medicare, and cannot threaten you with the loss of your Medicare benefits if you do not enroll in their plan.
  • Is someone asking you for confidential/personal information? Plans do not need to, and should not ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank information just to provide you with information. Plans should not call you at home to ask for this information, and should not ask you to give it to them at educational events. With this information, a plan can enroll you without your consent. Plans also cannot call you and ask you for a payment over the phone, but rather they have to send a bill. Additionally, know that there will be new cards issued for Medicare beneficiaries starting in 2018, but you do not need to take action or pay anything to get your new card or retain your Medicare benefits. Be wary of situations where people ask for your Medicare information or some form of payment related to this card.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, protect your Medicare and Social Security information and remember that you have the right to make your own decisions about your Medicare coverage. If you believe a plan representative has violated Medicare’s marketing guidelines, or if you think you were enrolled in a plan without your permission, you can contact your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). You can find and contact your SMP by visiting www.smpresource.org or calling 877-808-2468.

-from MedicareRights.org

Region 10 issues broadband RFP

Region 10 issues broadband RFP

Region 10 LEAP is announcing a Request for Proposal to solicit proposals from qualified vendors who can provide the required network equipment to complete the Region 10 Middle Mile Network in Colorado. The network equipment will include layer 3 switches, routers, network monitoring equipment and software, and other related equipment. This is an equipment and installation bid.

This project will be partially funded with Federal Funds from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and therefore is subject to the Federal laws and regulations associated with that program.

Request for Proposal documents and details on the award process can be found on the Region 10 electronic bid site: www.bidnetdirect.com/colorado/Region 10leap; Region 10’s Broadband website: www.Region10.net/Broadband; or by emailing Chris Kennedy, Region 10 Broadband Project Director at chris@region10.net.

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