A Look Back at Small Business Week: Great Advice from Entrepreneurs

Often, the start of a new year can raise a lot of different feelings in us. What do I want to change? What are my goals? Will 2016 be the year I actually use my gym membership?

You may have turned the corner into the new year determined to cease working for “the man” and ready to strike out on your own. If so, congratulations! While deciding to start your own business is an exciting idea, it’s also important to remember that it’s a significant undertaking, no matter the scale.

Several steps are involved in starting, getting up to speed, and then maintaining your new company. The most useful thing you can do at the outset is make sure you’re as ready as possible.

If the new year has indeed gotten you up close and personal with a switch over to the entrepreneur track, consider these things first.

Jumping in with both feet to a new business takes commitment. Do a gut check: are you passionate about your idea? Do you believe in it so deeply that it will carry you through the long hours and lean times in the start-up phase? Your business concept doesn’t matter as much as your belief in it. That becomes your lifeblood once the initial excitement has passed.

Ask yourself how well you tolerate risk. Some people thrive on it, but for others it’s more difficult. Your business isn’t guaranteed to succeed, no matter how much you think it will. Factors out of your control such as location, political volatility, or cultural change can make or break a company overnight. Will you be able to deal with the ups and downs that usually come with a business start-up — or even its potential failure?

Starting a business means that you will be chief cook and bottle washer for a while — everything becomes your responsibility initially. You have to get your idea out there in front of people and wear several different hats in the beginning stages: sales, HR, administrative, marketing, financial. Is taking on major responsibility a good fit for you? And are you nimble enough to handle it?

Included under the umbrella of responsibility is the ability to make decisions, many of which can be challenging in a small business atmosphere. Do you wear decision-making well? Is this an area in which your strengths consistently show up?

Lastly, the elusive work-life balance. Any entrepreneur who has started her own business can tell you that you go full speed at the outset, and sometimes it doesn’t slow down as quickly as you would like. You may lose time with family, friends, or hobbies that feed you in other ways. Is this the right time in your life to devote all your energies to this undertaking, and do you have the support of others to do so?

Starting your own business is an exciting ride, and one that should be undertaken with realistic consideration. If now is your time, dive in! And let me know how I can support you.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
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3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
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Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Sweeping Changes to Alcohol Sales Law in Colorado

For many years, a battle has raged on about Colorado grocers and larger scale retailers being able to sell at multiple locations throughout the state. To head off a potential ballot measure come November, Governor John Hickenlooper has signed into law SB 16-197.

The new law allows for a “phase-in”, where grocers and larger retailers can move from selling the less-popular 3.2 percent beer they can sell now, to selling full-strength beer. The law takes effect in January 2017 and further allows these businesses to sell in up to 20 locations over the next 20 years, whereas current law allows permits only one location per business to sell in the state. More sales in more locations can also mean more revenue for the state, as consumers will presumably have a better selection when doing their grocery shopping, so greater sales will be made at that time. More sales = more taxes.

While there have been opponents and proponents to the bill outside the halls of the Senate, the bill had bipartisan support, partially derived by compromises reached during the final days of this legislative session. Opponents have been voicing concerns over the impact it would have on “mom and pop” liquor stores, and the craft brew industry, and proponents have have assured those smaller shops that they too will benefit.

According to the bill’s enhancements, smaller shops and even the tiny corner drugstore would have the ability to have up to four licenses, and the ability to sell other items, such as fresh food products. Additionally, the bill has provisions that encourage (but don’t require) the buying of Colorado products, which would be managed under the auspices of a designated manager.

Even with this significant change taking place, Your Choice Colorado (an opponent to the legislation) is considering a ballot measure in November so voters can weigh in with their own opinion about what they would like to see on grocer’s shelves. It’s not certain if they’re pursue this measure, but supporters of SB 16-197, such as Keep Colorado Local hope they don’t. “This historic compromise protects local small businesses and Colorado’s unique craft brewing culture while allowing the phase-in of alcohol sales in grocery stores.”, states their Facebook announcement, following the Governor’s signing.

Only time will really tell how this new law impacts small businesses and consumers alike, but for now, it looks like at the very least, shoppers will have more choices when they’re picking ingredients for dinner.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity

We all know people who are outrageously productive — the ones who seem to always have multiple balls in the air and can smile and juggle. How on earth do they do it?

The truth is that productivity is all about lifestyle habits. What do productive people do better than you, and in what order? As a small business owner, your life is busy enough with the demands of your business in addition to the demands of life in general. Here are five buckets productive people keep filled that might help you take back some of your time — and join those seemingly effortless jugglers you see around you.

Health
This may seem obvious, but good sleep, healthy eating, and a willingness to take breaks during the day (real-deal breaks like a walk outside or the occasional five minutes spent anywhere but in front of a computer screen) put you way ahead of the curve in terms of energy, clarity, and creativity. Being responsible for a small business is not for the faint of heart; keep yourself in fighting shape.

Delegation
Productive people know what they’re good at and how to make the most of the areas in which they — and others — excel. Do you need a CPA, a virtual assistant, or a freelance designer? They are only a few clicks away. Keep yourself focused on your area of business expertise and eagerly outsource the rest.

Time
This one is a little trickier to manage in the traditional business world, but entrepreneurs with more flexible schedules can be all over it. We all know our most productive times of day. For example, if you’re in the business of blogging and the time you’re most in the flow is from 6 to 10 a.m., dive in deep then. If you’re a night owl and you offer an online service, structure your work hours to take advantage of your most productive self. And if you are in a 9-5 business, stack your day so that your the critical tasks and meetings fall at your best time.

Execution
Being a perfectionist takes a lot of time. You’ll find that productive people don’t give in to this, even though they may want to. Sometimes you just need to take action and not overthink. Getting things done means, occasionally, that something less important can be an 8 out of 10 instead of a 10. Everyone will live.

Priorities
Deep down you know what’s urgent, what’s important, and what can wait. Any productive person knows how to set and hold boundaries around their to-do list. When you started your business, you knew what had to be done and in what order. Hold fast to that understanding and don’t be swayed by mini fires that can be extinguished by others — or left to smolder until you have time to stomp them out.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Now That I Run My Own Small Business, Should I Bring In a Coach?

Congratulations! You’ve made the leap from employee to small business owner. Now you’re the one in charge of your own destiny and the one who decides what gets done — as well as when and how.

One thing you may notice as you make this transition is that business moves a lot faster than it used to, and it can be a race to keep up with the latest innovations; not just in technology, which are important, but also in human resources, management, and sales and marketing.

You don’t necessarily need a business coach to bring these items to your table if you have the time and the ability to stay on top of developing trends and keep yourself informed about business strategies that will benefit you and your company.

A bigger reason to consider a coach is that without one, you are responsible only to yourself. By bringing someone in, you’re involving another person in your own accountability when he or she starts tracking how you’re faring with goals and milestones, where your weak spots are, and which habits could use some tweaking.

Having a business coach in your corner gives you an advocate — as well as someone who encourages you to get out of your own way. A coach forces you to think of your business in ways you wouldn’t necessarily be able to on your own.

You can work one-on-one with a business coach in person, or you can work by phone, which opens up the possibilities of who you hire (many coaches will do an initial consult to check the fit for free). You want to find one who understands you and what you’re trying to do, but who is also willing to tell it like it is. A “yes” man or woman in this situation isn’t someone who will serve you well.

The coach doesn’t need to come from the business you’re in. Often an outsider with business expertise can offer creative, out-of-the-box thinking unavailable to you simply because you’re in the trenches every day.

And whether you talk once a week or once a month, it’s all about you — your challenges, your goals, your opportunities. In a way, it’s business therapy, and it forces you to take the time to focus on your business and make it the best it can be. A coaching relationship is always aligned around success, so your coach is going to be looking out for you in all the best possible ways.

Particularly if you are a solopreneur or in a micro business, a business coach can be a valuable sounding board. Wondering how that meeting went? Not sure if you made the right decision around your next initiative? Thinking about adding a new product to your line? Having an expert who is vested in your success and free of judgment can be a valuable tool as you grow and expand your toolkit — alongside your business.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Even tough times can be opportunities.

Energy prices have been tumbling down for a while now, reaching record lows. This has been great news for many consumers, who are paying less at the pump to fill up their cars. Despite the bad market for oil and gas, speakers at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s annual industry conference spoke positively about the future. These speakers discussed how the down market is a great opportunity to become a leaner industry that will come up with new technical innovations to improve the way they do business during this time.

This is a great example of how opportunities really are everywhere. With generally lower gas prices, this has likely helped boost the increased auto sales Colorado has been experiencing. Additionally, lower gas prices have put more money in consumers’ pockets, leading to increased retail sales. Now, this doesn’t do much to help those in the oil and gas industry, but it is an economic reality to keep in mind for any business. If one business is doing poorly, another is likely doing relatively better as a result. Fast food sales are falling while fast-casual restaurants boom. Sometimes these changes are temporary, and things will balance out more on their own over time. However, these changes can also signal a new trend in the market or even a longer term “new normal” for an industry.

If your business or industry is experiencing tough times, then it is time to start brainstorming. How can your business operate more efficiently, to earn more off of lower sales? What can your business do to be more like other businesses that are doing well in the market? Remember when McDonalds started selling higher quality coffee drinks to compete with Starbucks? Or to be a little more on-point with the energy topic, did you know gas stations make better profits selling drinks and snacks than selling gasoline? These are examples of shifting or hedging your business in favor of market areas doing relatively better and being innovative.

Overall, entrepreneurs should strive for the opportunistic, positive-thinking, and innovating attitude that opportunities are everywhere and keeping up with innovation is key. If things are not going as well for your business as they were, it can be easy to give up or to lose motivation. However, the reality is that tough times can be the ideal time to innovate and make changes to your business, so use it as an opportunity to innovate.

If you need legal help for your business, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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