Setting Up Your Home Business in Denver

Setting Up Your Home Business in Denver

A home business is characterized by its location, size, and number of employees. Typically, it is a small business operated out of a residence with one or very few employees who are often family members. You may work from a home office with an outside product or service, or you may have a designated space to showcase your product and accommodate clients. Regardless of your model or vision, running a home business takes a lot of time, patience, and research. There are federal, state, city, and even neighborhood guidelines to consider as well as specific tax rules. And, when you think you have a handle on the intricacies of operating a home business, there can be surprises or issues you never knew existed. A small business attorney will assess your home business structure and help you stay compliant with zoning and tax regulations, minimize your liability, and maintain a clear and competitive identity. This post will cover four major areas for small home business owners.

  1. Managing Operations From Your Home
  2. Regulations for Establishing a Home Business
  3. Taxes Rules and Deductions as a Home-based Business Owner
  4. Validate Your Home Business from the Start

1. Managing Operations From Your Home

Despite the many challenges and pitfalls of owning a home business, you are in very good company. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner’s home. Well-known brands like Apple, Hershey’s, Mary Kay, and Ford Motor Company all started out as home-based businesses. But, before you daydream about your empire or try to decipher all of the zoning and tax laws, you must consider some basics of running a home-based business. Can you see yourself managing your operations from your home? Do you have the right space? What will it cost to reconfigure the space? Is your family on board? Will work-life balance be a problem? It is important to have a designated area for your business operations so that your entire home does not become a constant reminder of work to be done. A small business attorney will help with your home business formation from R&D to optimizing your success and work-life balance.

2. Regulations for Establishing a Home Business

Once you have determined that a home setting will support your business, there are numerous legal guidelines you must follow. Denver has specific ordinances, limiting the type of business that can be operated from a home as well as the impact it has on surrounding residences. The permitting process for establishing a home business includes a zoning permit. Even if you are a one-person day care, if you are doing business from your home and use your home address as a business address, you need to obtain a zoning permit. These set the standards for size and location of structures and appropriate uses for your property. Be sure your intended business is in compliance with the Denver Zoning Code. In the event construction is required to convert your home work space, Denver requires inspection and permitting for building code standards to protect and ensure public welfare. This is conducted after zoning permits have been issued. Some home businesses may require additional permits, licenses, or inspections. Child care and food preparation businesses, for example, require a business license. Your attorney will keep you in compliance with local regulations, including home-owners association regulations, as well as ensure you have the right insurance coverage.

3. Taxes Rules and Deductions as a Home-based Business Owner

In addition to zoning requirements, you are subject to intricate tax rules and deductions as a home-based business owner. You are allowed to deduct part of your real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, depreciation, and certain other expenses. These deductions only pertain to the portion of your home designated as a place of business. If you want to maximize your deductions, it is essential to maintain accurate records of how and where you conduct business in the home. A small business attorney will determine if you should change the way you do business in order to save money on your taxes and decrease your liability in the case of accidents.

4. Validate Your Home Business from the Start

There are many perks to having a home business. Working from home affords you more versatility and flexible schedules, which also helps to entice the right employee(s) if you are looking to expand your business. A home office can add thousands to the price point of your home – a great asset in Denver’s housing market. So, with all of the plans, permits, forms, insurance, and licenses in place, your home business will be up and running. How, then, do you instill confidence in your customers? There are a few easy ways to help validate your home business from the start. Use a physical street address instead of a P.O. Box; this will also increase your search engine rankings. Do not underestimate the impact of printed marketing materials. Something as simple as a business card can serve as a physical reminder of your business. Your online presence is, of course, extremely important. Engaging new and current customers via social media or blog post on your website will legitimize your business further. These are great tools for you and your customers to share success stories and great experiences. Finally, collaborate with the right people who may have expertise where you do not. A small business attorney will partner with you to create the best possible business formation and see you through the process and growth of your home business.

If you need help with your home business, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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What Denver Small Business Owners Can Learn from Coach Kubiak

The resignation of a leader, especially one who has been a team player and responsible for the team’s success, is always a blow. Denver small business owners may, on occasion, think about what would happen if they were no longer able to lead their team, but most of us prefer not to dwell on it. That is understandable, as long as you have a succession plan in place. This post will discuss planning for succession, and making sure your business can succeed without you, whether you step down by choice, or because you have to.

Small Business Succession

In football, there are many people other than the coach and players who are invested in seeing the team succeed. In fact, replacing the coach is a fairly common practice. Coach Kubiak, who is a former Bronco and helped lead the team to the Super Bowl, was not expected to leave at this stage of the game. Unlike the Denver Broncos, you may not have a general manager, other owners, or anyone who understands your business well enough to take over tomorrow if needed, so small business succession is a little more complicated (believe it or not) than changing coaches in the NFL. Plus, the legal form of your business may not support a smooth small business succession plan, even if you have a vague idea of who could or would step in if you couldn’t lead your team. What if you have to leave your team unexpectedly, and at a time when they need you? Is anyone prepared to take over in your absence? Is there a plan in place?

Succession and Business Form

You already know you had to choose the legal form your business would take when you started it. You may have decided on the legal form of your business based on tax strategy, or ease of formation, but you might not have considered succession and business form when choosing how to set up shop. Do you know what would happen if you or your estate needed to transfer the business to a new owner unexpectedly? The good news is, that regardless of how your business is structured (for the most part), there are ways to transfer it to another party if necessary. I cannot stress enough how far a little preparation now will go toward saving your loved ones a lot of grief and stress if you have a legal, written plan for the transfer of your business, no matter what the legal structure is. In coach Kubiak’s case, he was able to discuss the transition with his team, his General Manager John Elway, the other coaches, and the team’s owners, the Bowlen family. It’s also likely that his contract with the team described in detail what would happen if he resigned. While this is an ideal scenario in a less than ideal situation, this is not always how things go. An accident, or sudden, serious illness can leave you entirely unprepared to plan the transfer of your business. Why not take some time now to put a plan in place?

Planning for an Unplanned Succession

Most of us have a vague idea of what we would like to sell our business for someday, or which of our children we think would enjoy running it for us when we are ready to retire, but we see that plan getting put into place down the road. If you are reading this post, it is possible you have not done much preparation for an unplanned succession. As an attorney, I see this scenario more often than not. Here are a couple of things to ask yourself about an unplanned succession:

  • What if you couldn’t make your wishes known?
  • Are your wishes in writing somewhere? Are they current, and properly structured?
  • Are there people who may argue (specifically, in court) about what your wishes are, if you are unable to make them 100% clear?

The legal expenses that can accompany arguments about who was supposed to do what with your small business should you pass can destroy not only the business, but personal assets and family relationships as well. The best thing you can do is sit down with your Colorado small business attorney and ask what would happen tomorrow if you had to announce to your team that you were leaving, effective immediately. Or worse, what would happen if you passed due to an accident or sudden, unexpected illness. As an attorney, I don’t like asking people to think about these scenarios, but I like it even less when a I see a family trying to figure out how to hold a business together while they are grieving.

Denver small business owners can learn from Coach Kubiak; you may not want to stop leading your team, but there might come a time when you have to. None of us like to plan for the worst, but when we do, we make things much easier on ourselves, our families, and our successors. If you need help thinking about succession and planning for the smooth transfer of your Colorado small business, please contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, 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
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Making Apologies as a Small Business Owner

After Wells Fargo CEO and Chairman John Stumpf stepped down following news of two million bogus accounts opened by employees under pressure to meet sales goals, a new CEO was culled from the ranks and put in charge. One of Tim Sloan’s first tasks as the new CEO of Wells Fargo was to reassure his employees and customers that things were going to get better. One thing is certain – before offering up his apology and presenting his plans to turn things around, he had legal advice. You may never face a televised congressional hearing evaluating your business practices, but you may someday find yourself making apologies as a small business owner. Here are three tips for getting the apology right, and some thoughts on when you may need legal advice.

1. Fix the Problem

This may seem obvious, but your apology will not have clout if the situation that allowed the problem to occur in the first place still exists. In Tim Sloan’s case, try to imagine that how effective his apology would be if his employees and the public knew customers were still being sold products they didn’t want, need, or authorize. You may need to make difficult choices to make sure you’ve fixed the root cause of the problem that lead to the need for an apology, choices which could include letting people go, changing the structure of your business, or altering your sales practices. If so, make sure you obtain legal advice before you fix the problem. If it’s a simple issue that can be resolved with simple changes to procedure, you may not need to talk to an attorney. But if your solution includes a major change to policy or practice, or a remedy that could expose you to risk, you should consider legal advice.

2. Make Sure Your Employees and Customers Know They Are Valuable

Regardless of what went wrong, even if the mistake that was made was an honest or unintended one, your customers and employees may be wondering if you value them. In the case of outright mistreatment – such as Wells Fargo employees being fired for reporting unethical behavior, or outright fraud – such as Wells Fargo opening unauthorized accounts for their customers – employees and customers will feel used and distrustful. But even if you simply made a mistake, or are facing a situation out of your control, people may wonder if you care about them, or if you carelessly “let this happen.” Make sure your apology includes a confirmation of caring that goes beyond your words if possible. Put yourself in the shoes of those who feel harmed. Is there anything that could make it better? What ever your solution involves, make sure you employees and customers know they are valuable to you and to your business.

This is another good point to consider legal advice. You need to make sure that what you offer in the way of making things right does not expose you to unintended legal consequences. Find a business attorney in Colorado and check in. This is one of those times when legal help in advance can make a big difference.

3. Listen to Employees and Customers

Advising you to listen to employees and customers who are impacted may seem like the first step, but I’ve placed it at the end because this is a two part listening practice:

  • You need to listen to all parties to understand what went wrong and why they are upset. Understanding why they are upset is as important as knowing what went wrong. When you make your apology, and you explain your steps to correct the problem, it is essential that you also be able to apologize to people about how they were made to feel. Do people feel they may no longer be able to trust you to keep promises? Are employees afraid you’re not paying attention to issues that could impact their livelihood? Don’t assume you know what they are feeling. Ask, and listen.
  • You also need to listen to feedback on your solution before you present it. Find a small group of key individuals and ask for their input as you formulate a solution and before you present it. Their feedback will be crucial to understanding the impact of your apology and how your solution might be viewed by those who are counting on you to make things better.

One final note on listening: make sure your listening process offers anonymity. Some people may not want to tell you what they knew about the problems in your organization before and after they surfaced – they may look at Wells Fargo as an example of what could happen and worry they could be fired. You will not be able to come up with the complete picture, and thus a viable solution, if you don’t get the full story.

Making apologies as a small business owner may not be easy, but if you are well prepared, it can make a real difference. If you need helping understanding the legal ramifications of a less than desirable business situation that may require an apology on your part, or crafting a solution that doesn’t compromise you legally, I can help with business coaching, or a business planning consultation to help you move forward. For any type of Colorado small business legal review, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, 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
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Denver Startup Week is for You

Nirvana for the Denver Small Business Owner

Ever wondered what goes on at the Denver Startup Week, and if you should attend? Powered by the local community, Denver Startup Week is “[t]he largest event of its kind in North America, [and] is the summit of entrepreneurial energy, innovation, and connection.” And it’s free!

Because the mission of Denver Startup Week is “to foster an environment where every member of a team, in every industry, can come to learn, grow, and prepare for their next challenge,” organizers are careful to include a broad variety of topics and business models. If you’ve already got your new business startup list (even if it’s just in your head), or you are an established small business owner and you want to learn more about tech, design, DIY-making, marketing, or leadership, there will be good information available for you and your team.

Education for Business Owners

At Denver Startup Week, you won’t just get advice on achieving balance between work and life: the event offers good education on a variety of topics and is designed around tracks. The tracks are based on the role you play in your business; founder, developer, designer, marketer, maker, etc. If you wear several hats, you can wear them all during Denver Startup Week.

Startup Week Tracks

FOUNDER
Whether you’re just dreaming about starting a business, on your first, or a seasoned entrepreneur, the founder track will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to found a company. Initial product development, go-to-market strategies, finding funding, and building a team are just some of the topics that are covered. Start down the path of creating your startup!

DEVELOPER
Frontend, backend, full stack, big data, APIs, architecture, methodologies, junior, senior, we have it all. Learn new technologies, refine your skills, or just check out something completely different. Walk away a better engineer than you were before!

GROWTH
No matter how good it is, no product sells itself. A team that markets, sells, and supports the product well is a huge advantage for any startup. Every aspect of digital marketing, inbound and outbound sales, and customer experience is going to be covered at Denver Startup Week. Growing a startup depends on these skills, don’t miss your chance to improve them!

PRODUCT
Product management, development, and marketing, all different sides of the same coin that somehow bridges the gap between building the product and delivering it to the market. Product skills are in huge demand but there aren’t very many places where you can go to acquire them. Come improve your product game at Denver Startup Week!

DESIGNER
Seeing things others do not see is an art and our design track is packed with creative outlets to expand your thinking and ability to design. From fashion to architecture to breakout digital design and artwork – the design track is focused on the critical elements of design. Learn new skills, hear from those responsible for some of the best projects in Colorado, and let your creative juices flow. Enjoy connecting with fellow design leaders and leave the week with fresh inspiration!

MAKER
From craft skis to craft beer, robots to 3D printing – the experience of ‘making’ physical products is totally unique. Through the lens of physical goods across multiple industries, hear the stories behind breakout brands, learn about new technologies in manufacturing, and dig into the micro-production concepts needed to get started. Connect with the best craftsmen and makers in Colorado and see how they create their work – all in one week!

Still wondering if you’ll find something useful for your business? Take a look at some of what’s available from last year’s event. You will learn something new from Chris Frank’s presentation, The Art and Science of Finding Customers for Your Startup, within the first five minutes of his video, and that was last year! In fact, several excellent past presentations that are well worth your time can be found on the website.

The excitement, energy, and renewed vision that the event generates for local business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs who are testing the waters could easily produce an uptick in the GDP! If your business could use a little uptick, or a big boost, make sure you make the time to be at Denver Startup Week 2016. If you need startup legal help, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, 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
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
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
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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