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.

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When Facebook Doesn’t “Like” Your Pot Shop Page…

Remember when news releases were the go-to method of publicizing events directly related to your business? These days when companies want to get the word out about corporate happenings, publish internal news, or inform their customers of specials or promotions, a faster and less cumbersome way to do it is on Facebook.

But if you’re in the pot business, you may want to try another platform.

Recently Facebook started shutting down the pages of legal marijuana businesses around the country, and Colorado’s cannabis retailers were captured in their net, along with legitimate medical dispensaries in other states.

While the targeted companies are properly licensed and compliant at the state and local level, it’s impossible for them to be federally compliant for one simple reason: cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. Facebook’s Community Standards preclude it from encouraging any kind of drug use, and a promotion or special on cannabis products advertised on the site can be interpreted as such.

In the Regulated Goods section of the Community Standards, it states that Facebook “prohibits any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana or firearms.”

It’s unclear why a business licensed by the state of Colorado and subject to its regulations could fall under the umbrella of “unauthorized dealers.”

Facebook hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about the decision, but issued a statement regarding it that read in part:

“In order to maintain a safe environment on Facebook, we have Community Standards that describe what is and is not allowed on the service,” the statement read. “Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates our standards. Our teams review these reports rapidly and will remove the content if there is a violation.”

Some of the biggest dispensary chains in Colorado had their pages deleted, including The Clinic, LivWell, Sweet Leaf, and The Green Solution. In certain cases when the dispensary appealed, some of the pages were reinstated without explanation.

A few business owners simply started over; they revamped the pages to make sure promotions or coupons that could be interpreted as advocating drug use didn’t appear on their site, thereby violating Facebook’s community standards. They lost the “likes” from the first round but simply encouraged their followers to re-click.

Last year, sales of legal marijuana rose 17 percent for a total annual intake of $5.4 billion. Current projections have 2016 on track to pull in $6.7 billion.

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.

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Small Business Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is one of those issues we often hear about when it comes to employees, but what about small business owners and entrepreneurs?

Being a small business owner is challenging. It takes a lot of time and energy in order to keep the business going and growing. This can often lead to the assumption that the more time you put into something, namely, your business, then the more you will get out of it. Right? Maybe, maybe not, but you should try and be smart about it.

Consider this, studies show that the belief that multitasking is a powerful productivity tool is a myth. If you are in the middle of a personal, non-business task at home for example, then it might be a good idea to finish that up and then take care of that business matter later. Of course there are always exceptions, emergencies do happen, but do not automatically assume that making your business your number one priority will always lead you to better business results. If you come back to that business task with your full attention, you will likely complete it better and in less time.

Another way to help you obtain a better work-life balance would be to set aside one day out of the week (or maybe even the whole weekend if possible) to not do anything business-related. Think carefully about what day you choose, and make sure it is one that can work for you. For example, if your business gets an important delivery on Saturdays where there are commonly questions or problems with it, then that might not be a good day to choose. This can allow you to decompress, get some greater perspective, and then be ready to jump back into work more inspired and reinvigorated. Burnout is real, and taking steps to overcome it or prevent it now will reward you and your business over the long-term.

A common problem with work-life balance for small business owners is when you operate a home-based business. When you are in this situation, it can be hard to ever feel like you are off-the-clock and actually able to relax in your own home. If you are in this situation, consider limiting all of your business operations, equipment, inventory, et cetera, to one or two rooms in your home. If you have business items strewn across the house, you will likely find yourself thinking about work everywhere you go at home. Additionally, if you do all of your work at home, then it might be a good idea to keep a strict schedule for yourself of working hours. Get in a routine. Together, these tactics should train your brain to focus better on your business by concentrating both when and where you work in a common and predictable way for yourself.

Whatever your small business’ circumstances, it is crucial that you give it 100%, but you cannot do that if you are trying to work 100% of the time. We are all human after all, and we need to eat, sleep, get some rest, and spend some time with our families in order to be at our best on the job. So try and strive for a reasonable work-life balance for yourself, and you will likely be a better person and business owner for it. Lastly, remember not to feel guilty for taking some time out or else you likely will not experience the benefits of rest and balancing your work and the rest of your life. Just give it a try and see if it works for you.

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

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Craft Beer is a Billion-Dollar Economic Driver in CO

As today is National Beer Day, what better way to celebrate than talking about beer! According to a study released by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business in association with the Colorado Brewers Guild, small, locally-owned breweries had an overall economic impact of 1.15 billion dollars on the Colorado Economy for the year of 2014, and it employs over 6,000 workers in Colorado.

This is good news for Colorado as one of the top craft beer brewing states in the country. At the end of last year’s count, there were 261 craft breweries in Colorado, with more and more popping up all the time. The latest figures now have the count at over 300! Altogether, this means that you likely don’t have to go very far to find excellent beer in or near your neighborhood. These Colorado craft beer brewers are made up of small businesses that simply love great beer and Colorado. They just want to share their passion with others, and consumers have been buying.

Overall, the craft beer takeover is not showing any signs of slowing down yet, but how long can it continue to grow at these rates? This is growing concern. How much is too much craft beer in one area? As far as the national numbers go, craft beer is still only sitting at just over 12% of the beer market share, but more locally, the market may be experiencing a lot more crowding. The growth and interest in craft beer is likely making the bigger, national brewers nervous too, who may be looking to buy some of the smaller brewers or get more creative with their own beer offerings to try to compete.

Another ongoing concern for craft brewers is a potential ballot initiative that would allow for grocery stores and other big retailers to be able to start selling full-strength beer inside, an issue we discussed previously here. They fear this could lead to more consumers opting for buying some of the more national brand offerings at these larger stores rather than going to their local liquor stores who tend to have large selections of local, craft beer offerings. Then there is also the impact on local small business liquor store owners being affected by the change as well. Craft beer is certainly an industry worth watching here in Colorado, whether you work in small or big business.

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

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Colorado’s New Workforce Development Package

Last year, a group of eight workforce development bills was passed into law with bipartisan support in the Colorado legislature. The idea behind the effort was to connect businesses and education more closely so that students could find jobs in specific fields, whether through better training or outreach to private companies.

The question the legislators were trying to answer was, essentially, How do we stream more high-school and college graduates into the Colorado workforce, especially in fields where they are desperately needed, like technology?

Last month, a 10-bill package was introduced that focused on getting businesses even more involved in the process and added aid for careers not specifically addressed in last year’s version.

“We can’t simply be consumers of the education system. We have to partner with them and be creators,” said Noel Ginsburg, chairman and CEO of InterTech Plastics of Denver, explaining his support as a business owner for the new measures. “This system will be a key to addressing income inequality in this country.”

Highlights of the new package include:

* giving schools the resources they need to develop computer science curricula

* studying ways to increase the number of apprenticeships at private companies

* further developing a program that provides training to those collecting government assistance

* requiring the CO Department of Education to work in concert with the community college system to align initiatives around workforce readiness

* instituting a pilot program that gives bonuses to schools when students earn industry certification for in-demand jobs or complete an AP computer science class

* offering tax credits up to $5,000 per person to companies that provide apprenticeships

* creating a matching grant program that assists industry associations in partnering with schools to define industry competencies and facilitate training/education in those areas

* modifying the process for electricians’ license renewals through continuing education

* streamlining mental-health licensure processes

* aligning state law with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Business leaders who supported the initiative to shore up the state’s workforce are eager to see results. So far, the measures passed last year haven’t resulted in getting better trained workers into specific companies, but the program is underway.

Some of the workers needed to get the initial programs set up and running have been hired and the hope is that it will be fully operational in the next few months. And it’s heartening to see bipartisan support for this year’s package that piggybacks on last year’s efforts.

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
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720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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The Arrival of Sales Tax on Amazon Purchases in Colorado

A fridge? A best-selling novel? Organic coconut oil?

If you order it on online you can get pretty much anything delivered to your door — maybe even with free shipping. But as of February 1 in Colorado, if it comes from Amazon it will also come with sales tax.

Colorado recently became one of 28 states required to pay sales tax on purchases made on Amazon. The gigantic online retailer used to famously side-step sales taxes, but as needed distribution centers were opened in additional states to fulfill orders and delivery demand, Amazon agreed to apply the tax.

Collecting sales tax on online purchases has been an ongoing legal battle in Colorado fought by the Direct Marketing Association for the past six years. (It made it to the Supreme Court but was recently sent back to the federal court.)

Under federal law, if a retailer doesn’t have a physical presence in the state they can’t be forced to collect the taxes, which triggers a self-reporting requirement by consumers. Yes, buyers in Colorado are supposed to pay taxes to the state when they make an online purchase in the event that sales tax wasn’t added.

State law dictates that online stores keep a record of purchases made by Coloradans and report the sales tax that should have been collected. Those online companies are also obligated to advise the buyers of taxes owed.

Those who support compelling Amazon to collect sales tax in states where it has distribution centers or subsidiaries related to its business say that it has a clear advantage over brick and mortar stores that have no choice but to collect sales tax. Those on the other side of the argument say that states could simply eliminate the tax — and thereby the problem.

The Denver Post described the issue this way:

“DMA [Direct Marketing Association] continues to spearhead a legal challenge to Colorado’s unconstitutional tax and data-collection scheme,” he said. “Requiring out-of-state sellers to disclose private purchase information to the state’s Department of Revenue violates both the Commerce Clause, as well as the privacy of the business-to-customer relationship. DMA has won every argument in this litigation and we are confident the Tenth Circuit will support DMA’s argument and find Colorado’s notice-and-report requirements unconstitutional.

However, on February 23rd, 2016, the Federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals court upheld the law against the DMA’s challenge. The judge posited that overturning it would result in a statewide “tax shelter” for online retailers. As a result, the decision could lead to a re-energized push for internet sales tax nationwide.

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.

SCHEDULE NOW

Put small business attorney Elizabeth Lewis to work for you by calling 720-258-6647, email elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com or schedule online now!

 

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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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