How to Startup, Popup, and Get a Leg Up in Retail

How to Startup, Popup, and Get a Leg Up in Retail

Despite the closings and bankruptcies of long-established stores and corporations over the past few years, Denver continues to attract national and international retailers. Big names like IKEA, Uniqlo, H&M, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema have moved in, creating an even tighter real estate market for new or expanding businesses hoping to enter the city’s thriving retail market.

While you may not be looking for a huge warehouse to set up your small retail store, you would certainly benefit from being a part of the larger scene. If you are not already an established brand, then a startup business may be a great option for you. If you want to expand, then a popup shop may be a great alternative to a traditional storefront. Just as online consumerism has changed the landscape of commerce, startups and popups are transforming traditional retail.

Small Business Attorney E.C. Lewis, P.C. can help with every aspect of starting or expanding your retail store, from contract review and creation to daily business operations. This post will explore these types of stores and what they can do for your retail store.

What Constitutes a Startup?

One definition of a startup company is a fast-growing small business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing a viable business model around an innovative product, service, process, or platform. Startups typically enter the market quickly by finding new or less costly ways of operating, e.g. food trucks, booth rentals, and popup shops. This model creates experiences that draw customers to a social scene, which is very appealing to Denver’s growing millennial population.

While e-commerce continues to push retail to evolve, there is a trend in today’s retail concept, going from online only to actual establishments. This movement from click to brick can be seen with Fabletics, Omaha Steaks, and Amazon whose newest offering is grocery delivery. With an increasingly innovative retail atmosphere, Denver’s hottest districts – Larimer Square, Union Station, Dairy Block, Denver Central Market, and more – are responding with more unique and versatile spaces.

No longer exclusively associated with techie communal space working, tennis table playing employees, startup businesses have many determinants. Years in business, annual revenue, and number of employees are just some of the ways people measure whether a small business is a startup or not. So, what if you have successfully started a startup and want to expand? A Forbes article points out that the key attribute of a startup is its ability to grow and scale very quickly. And, one way to do this is by opening a popup location.

What are the Benefits of a Popup Shop?

Popup shops are a great way for a fledgling or expanding business to enter the market. These types of stores require less capital investment to introduce or test a new product or service, and they provide instant customer feedback. A Shopify article describes a popup shop as a short-term retail event that creates a frenzy with its “get it before it’s gone” message. The temporary nature of this type of store enables you to plan around an occasion or a holiday that may suit what you are selling perfectly. You can also go to your customers by choosing the district, kiosk, or gallery space where your product or service matches the personality of the neighborhood.

After you have vacated the popup location, the idea is that customers will remember your product or service and follow you. This is a fantastic segue to having an omnichannel presence – you entice your prospective customers with an in-store experience, then lead them to your other location(s), website, and social media accounts where they can find you and become loyal customers.

Like setting up an actual, more permanent retail store, you must consider many factors when planning for your popup location. Rent, utilities, insurance, Internet, point of sale (POS), furniture, repairs, inventory, displays, marketing, duration are some of these considerations. A small business attorney can help you with choosing the right location and entity, reviewing and drafting contracts, keeping compliant with taxes and licensing, and expanding your retail store.

If you need help with your retail store, 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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Patent Accessibility for Small Business Owners

Patent Accessibility for Small Business Owners

Patents and the Small Business Owner

While some people launching a small business for the first time might not have legal help at the top of their mind, most everyone would agree that even thinking about pursuing a patent means it’s time to call an attorney. While your lawyer will probably agree that legal advice is a good idea when it comes to patent applications, there are things you can do on your own in the early stages.

Legal Help When You Need It

Giant corporations can afford to keep attorneys on staff or on retainer. If you’re a small business owner, you probably have to budget carefully for legal advice. The good news is there is a great deal of free information and support available from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO). They offer good early planning advice and ideas that can be a big help to hopeful entrepreneurs considering a patent. If this describes you, check out the Getting Started section of their website that includes a patent basics section with good information on Types of Patent Applications, Process Overview, Using Legal Services, and Inventor Resources.

However, much of the material is written for lawyers, not laymen. For example, you can download the 36 page guide to filing a design patent, but you may be dismayed by the opening paragraph:

Since a design is manifested in appearance, the subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation.

Huh? Not to worry! There is plenty of simple, straight forward advice on researching your business idea to see if someone already holds a trademark, copyright, or patent on it. And while you may not yet be entirely clear about what type of patent you are filing for, the USTPO has a good FAQ page where you can start to explore the possibility of obtaining a patent for your idea. Here are a couple of tips from the FAQ section you will want to consider:

1. Avoid Being Scammed
The USTPO recommends that you check on the reputation of an invention promotion firm before engaging one to help you in the patent process – something you can do easily online or on their website.

2. Get Help from the IAC
The Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) provides patent information and services to the public and is staffed by former Supervisory Patent Examiners, experienced Primary Patent Examiners, various intellectual property specialists and attorneys who can answer general questions (but cannot give legal advice).

How to Contact the IAC
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 8:00 PM (ET), except federal holidays
Toll-free: 800-PTO-9199 (800-786-9199)
Local: 571-272-1000
TDD/TTY customers can dial 800-877-8339 for customer assistance

Greater Clarity, Better Service

While the patent process is complicated, the USTPO has recently launched the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) to strengthen their “work products, processes, services, and how we measure patent quality at all stages of the patent process.” While this may not translate into an immediate do-it-yourself model for patent applications, it does have Denver-area intellectual property lawyers hopeful about a more streamlined process, including more affordable alternatives to the appeals process.

Can a Denver Small Business Lawyer Help?

Patent law is highly specialized and not typically part of the practice for any small business attorneys that I know of in Denver. However, when it is time to hire a patent attorney, I can refer you to some of the best. Meanwhile, if I can help you draft company documents, review your online legal standing, or decide on the right language for an employment contract, you can reach me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis PC, home of your Denver Business Lawyer: 720-258-6647 or email me at 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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Your Business Start-up To-Do List: How to Begin

A great idea is the genesis of any successful business. Many entrepreneurs know that “Aha!” moment when the thought “it would just be so much easier if I could get this note to stick to my page!” magically becomes the Post-it® note — now amplified from its original pale yellow to be available in rainbow colors, finishes, and sizes.

If you’re ready to start your business, you’re already in possession of an idea you think will succeed. The next thing on your Business Start-up To-Do List is research the market. Does your idea solve a problem, fulfill a need, or offer something desirable? Is there anything similar out there? Who are your competitors? What do you bring that’s fresh and different to the table?

In a parallel process to figuring out those elements, you also want to check in with yourself that this is the right time, mentally and physically, for you to undertake this exciting and challenging process.

A formal business plan is essential if you plan to seek funding from other sources, but even if you don’t, it’s a valuable tool that will clarify and solidify your idea. If you’re lucky enough not to require outside funding because you are using your own start-up funds, creating a simple plan will keep your goals up high and keep you on track as you reach your milestones.

This far in you will have thought about what your business structure will look like: is it an LLC? A sole proprietorship? You may choose one direction at the beginning and shift to something completely different as you get underway. Paperwork and, potentially, legal advice are a part of this process, as is choosing a name (and a domain name) that suits you and your business needs. You’ll want to make sure you are covered with the proper licenses, registrations, insurance, and permits in advance of your launch.

If your business is the brick-and-mortar variety, you’ll need to find a location that works. If it’s a home office, you’ll definitely want to plan how to shift your living space so that it doesn’t unbalance the flow of your home. In particular, if you live with other people, it’s beneficial to discuss any upcoming changes in advance so that everyone can be operating from the same vantage point. At least in theory!

Are you hiring employees? Working with contractors? What about your accounting structure, the backbone of every well-run business? The earlier in the process you address all the moving parts the better your business will function down the road at a high level.

With these things checked off your list, your new business is essentially ready to roll out. Marketing, promotions, perhaps a free offering, and a social media blitz should be on your radar. Stay connected to your business plan, which is a fluid document that should grow and morph with your business and function as a touchstone and an inspiration all in one.

Good luck!

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 Lawyer. 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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Be a Customer of Your Own Business

Two years ago, a study found that 81% of consumers perform research online before making a major purchase. That figure rose 20% from the previous year, and has likely continued to rise.

More and more people take a look online before even visiting a business. They want to be sure that they have what they are looking for, that the prices are reasonable, that the service is friendly, and ultimately that they are not wasting their time. This can be more nuanced depending on the type of business of course. For example, if you have a restaurant or bar, then people probably look online for your menu, prices, and maybe some reviews or photos of the place took get a better idea of the atmosphere. I know I do. These themes can still apply if you are selling goods from a home-based business or performing digital services too. Are your products or services of good quality? Do you have good customer service? What is the overall experience like?

For answers to all of these questions, people look online. So if you are trying to see what is going on in the minds of your potential customers, you should trying being a customer of your own business. Google your business name or some keywords a customer might use (preferably in a different web browser or at least signed out of any profiles you use and with all of your temporary internet data like cookies and history cleared—this way your results are less likely to be tainted by your own usage) and see what comes up. Is your website at the top? If it is that’s great, and you can move on to looking at your homepage. Is the key information someone needs readily available like phone number, location, a summary of what you do, etc.? Try to be critical, and this can open up areas that you can improve for your website or Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Beyond your own website in the Google search results, what else do you see? Are there Google Reviews for your business? Did Yelp or another review website show up? What about social media pages for your business like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? It’s important that you regularly take a look at what a new potential customer might see when searching for your business or others like yours.

Look and see if there are bad reviews out there, if your social media pages or website’s blog haven’t been updated for a while, or if there are other red flags concerning your business. These issues can make potential customers second-guess trying your business or even scare them away entirely. These insights can offer you key items available for enhancing your business’ online presence and marketing message to be sure that customers are having the kind of experience you want them to have.

If you’ve done all these things and are satisfied with the message and experience that your business is offering to the public online, then maybe it is time to start getting more feedback from clients. Try talking with regular customers or implementing a survey to see what people think your business could do better.

If you need legal advice on making a change to 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.

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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