Millennials, E-Commerce, and Denver Real Estate

Millennials, E-Commerce, and Denver Real Estate

Headlines and ratings have Colorado at the top. Denver has been consistently ranked as one of the best cities to live in by U.S. News and World Report. Denver was also first in 2015 and 2016 for best places for business according to Forbes. These accolades are in addition to the state’s impressive roster of colleges and universities, not to mention its luscious landscape and booming retail scene. This all translates into a desirable place to live, which affects your business decisions. A small business attorney will help you with all of your commercial real estate needs from setup to leasing or buying to protecting your assets.

The Millennials Are Coming To Colorado

Colorado has steadily become a migration destination in recent years, and according to a Denver Post article, there is an influx of millennials. Like many groups, millennials like to live in areas where there are other millennials, and this group uses social media to share their day to day experiences. This, in turn, contributes to a momentum of migration, which has a major impact on the real estate market. A Biz Journals article reports that Denver’s retail real estate market is expected to be the “world’s hottest” over the next few years, second only to San Francisco, and that the retail market will outperform all other global retail markets. With all of the positive reports and growth comes competition for space and rising rental rates. If you are renting commercial space for your small business, you may not be able to afford hikes in rent. As a landlord, tenants may be harder to keep or come by. Because the millennials are coming to Colorado in droves, there is a tight real estate market. A tight real estate market means there is more at stake, leading to more potential legal disputes. Careful review of your lease is critical in these times, and a small business attorney can help you with all of your contracts and agreements.

E-Commerce Is Everywhere, Even If Your Business Is Only In Denver

Defined as a transaction of buying or selling online, e-commerce has expanded rapidly over the years and is accelerating. Boundaries between electronic and conventional commerce have become blurred as more and more businesses move at least portions of their operations onto the internet. All businesses employ some form of electronic applications whether through email, online catalogs, e-newsletters, digital coupons, social media marketing, or countless other transactions. Amazon, an e-commerce revolutionary, just opened its first fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado and is reportedly looking for a downtown Denver office location. While a 452,000 square foot industrial location is not exactly small retail real estate, having big e-commerce and tech companies opening offices in Denver affects all sectors of commercial real estate, employment, and retail. So whether you have a brick and mortar storefront or work from home, a small business attorney can advise you about operating in an increasingly virtual market in conjunction with an increasingly competitive real estate scene.

Owning Or Leasing Retail Space In Colorado

You know Denver is the place for your small retail business. You confidently cater to tech savvy and discerning tastes. You have a solid online presence. So, what do you do if your retail space no longer meets your business needs? What if you cannot afford increasing rent costs? It may be time to find another option or location. If you are unsure of the future of your business and its size, you may be better off continuing to lease or sublease. However, if you want to stay in a particular district or neighborhood and have no plans to expand, then you may want to buy rather than rent. A small business attorney will help you decide whether to rent or buy and guide you through locations and spaces as well as the accompanying leases and contracts.

If you need help with your e-commerce and Denver real estate options, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, 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

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
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501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
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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

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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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Time, Money, and Talent: Three Keys to Inclusive Small Business Giving

As we approach the end of the year, many Colorado small business owners are thinking about philanthropic giving. In addition to the need to vet a chosen charity, finding a variety of ways that allow you and your team to offer time, money, or talent can insure all employees have an opportunity to give and no one feels left out.

Small Business Owners Value Time

If you are a small business owner, you know how valuable your time can be. It probably comes as no surprise that some of your employees are in the same boat – they might clock out after a forty-hour week, but they go home to lives that are busy. Asking them to give up a Saturday to plant trees, or volunteer at a shelter might be asking for much more than they can give. Does that mean you should not offer volunteer opportunities to your team? Absolutely not; but you should make sure that any philanthropic activity you engage in is inclusive and allows your team members to donate time, money, or talent as they are able. Here’s how:

Create Tiers of Time

If you offer an opportunity to volunteer time, make sure you create tiers of time; try to break up the activities associated with volunteering time into two or three levels of giving. In the same way that we are often invited to give what money we can, we can offer employees the chance to give what time they can, rather than asking everyone to give up an entire Saturday for a good cause. By offering a variety of activities with different time requirements which each support the core giving activity, we can find good ways to accommodate someone whose weekends are filled with family members who rely heavily on them, or are unavailable for other reasons.

Money Can Be the Preferred Way to Give

For some of your employees, money can be the preferred way to give. The key to tying that gift to a team effort is connecting the giving that comes from your organization to the people that it benefits. Go beyond the typical thermometer measure of how much was given and make sure those who gave money can see the impact it had. Find some way to connect the gift to actual people, not just to the numbers benefited, or the amount given. When a connection is made, and the impact of the gift is felt, giving cash can be as rewarding an experience as volunteering.

Talent Takes Time and Money

Some organizations need your abilities and those of your employees more than your cash or volunteer hours. A third way to consider giving is to offer the services of your employees as part of their work day. A precaution here: when an employer directs an employee to volunteer, that time is compensable. The regulations state:

Time spent in work for public or charitable purposes at the employer’s request, or under his direction or control, or while the employee is required to be on the premises, is working time.

In many ways, giving talent is the most costly way for you to give to charity; but you may be able to get real bang for your buck from a philanthropic perspective. Look for opportunities where you and your employees can offer to serve in ways the general public cannot. In the same way a legal firm can offer pro bono work, your team may have desperately needed specialized skills or talent. If your team can truly experience or see the impact of their gift, it can have great value to your organization as well as to the charity.

Still not sure how to get started? Kim Jensen of the Denver Business Journal gives six excellent tips on where to start, including tips to broaden inclusion, and even involve your customers and clients! As always, If you need help vetting a charity, or understanding the rules associated with charitable giving, 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

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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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Keep an Eye on the Economy

It’s always a good idea to keep on eye on the economy – whether you’re a local small business owner, or employed by the State of Colorado. Economic indicators can help you determine a wise household spending plan, as well as guide fiscal decision making for your business. So, how are things looking right now, and what should you be focused on? Colorado based hard money lender Glen Weinberg thinks you should be keeping track of how many times you’ve eaten fast food in the last month. If his measure works, he’s doing better than the Federal Reserve.

According to Weinberg, there is a strong correlation between the general economy and fast food restaurant sales. “Historically, sales at fast food restaurants have a strong correlation with general economy which means as one metric moves the other metric typically moves in tangent.” Fast food sales reflect the availability of discretionary income to consumers. If your business relies on discretionary income, it may be a good idea to keep tabs on fast food sales. In 2015, three of the top five showed declining sales compared to 2014, and the overall, sales for the top five were down.

You may also want to monitor apartment vacancies – if they are low, it generally means that people have a good reason (such as a good jobs) to stick around. But keep in mind, not all vacancy increases are a result of people leaving the area. The current increase in Metro Denver apartment vacancies is not a signal of weakening economy, but a simple matter of supply finally passing demand as large numbers of new units have been added to the housing market here in Colorado. A good way to examine what might be behind increased vacancy rate is to look at rent. If rent is still going up, even though there are more vacancies, there’s a good chance housing is still in high demand. According to Denver Business Journal Reporter, Molly Armbrister, year-over-year fourth quarter average apartment rental rates in Metro Denver increased “…in spite of a jump in the average apartment vacancy rate from 4.6 percent to 6.8 percent in the same period.

If your business is experiencing growing pains in either direction, it may be a good time to talk to an attorney. If you need legal help, be sure to 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.

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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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Outdoor Recreation Business Is Heating Up in Colorado

It’s no surprise that Colorado is a destination for some of the greatest skiing and snowboarding on the planet. What’s changing though is the increase in emphasis on other types of seasonal recreation in our state. The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) has formed what they call the “Colorado Tourism Roadmap“, and some of the main objectives are to get the input of locations throughout the state and develop marketing campaigns aimed at drawing visitors of all kinds to Colorado. While some of the strategy is to tap into the obvious and abundant natural resources in certain areas of the state, the purpose for CTO is to market cross-region experiences for both in-state and out-of-state travelers. More travel equals more spending and tax dollars into the state’s coffers, as evidenced by the last few years data. According to recent numbers, Colorado leads most states when it comes to the outdoor industry, boasting $646 billion dollars in business.

Key in that has success has been the development of jobs surrounding the outdoor industry, and leading the charge to make sure that happens is the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (CORIA). Established in 2015 the mission is not only to help with economic development, but to help promote stewardship, conservation and sustainability in the use of Colorado’s natural resources. CORIA’s mission is to try and both keep and attract outdoor industry businesses in Colorado. In their words, “We champion industry, communities and people to come to life through Colorado’s Great Outdoors.” Another area of concern is how to slow the departure of businesses, as some outdoor businesses and organizations have left Colorado for Utah, and CORIA is in part responsible for being an ambassador for the outdoor industry in Colorado; part of that work is to show how Colorado is a better option to over our neighbors in the Beehive State.

With these initiatives working in tandem, it goes to show that Colorado is well-positioned to be an attractive location for businesses who run in the outdoor industry space, for both existing companies and those considering making Colorado their home. Something that should work in the favor of those businesses is proposed legislation that could streamline the permitting process that exists now. If passed, the bill would create a special designation for certain prized recreation spots, and in turn, that means support businesses would be able to come into existence to offer provisions, equipment and even accommodations. Colorado is already home to a very strong manufacturing culture, so it’s doubly positioned to provide both the facilities and the workforce to support such industry, should it either come from elsewhere or be spawned locally because of outdoor industry’s growth. Either way, the time is right for small business to make it big in the outdoor industry and at the same time, help continue to grow the Colorado economy.

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
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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