It's no secret that the Mile High City's startup scene is thriving.
The best and brightest minds are drawn to Denver because they can make their mark relatively quickly. With a young, active, educated labor pool, startups have access to talent. And, Colorado offers a myriad of resources for entrepreneurs - the Small Business Development Center, Denver Startup Week, Galvanize, Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN), INDUSTRY Denver, TEDxMileHigh, WeWork, and the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN), to name a few - that drive the city's entrepreneurial economy. The cherry on top is Denver's quality of life. Residents and tourists alike enjoy skiing, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, camping, rock climbing, and pretty much anything else outdoors.
But don't take my word for it - take a look at Colorado's entrepreneurial track record:
So, how do you tap into this incredible network and start a successful business in Denver? I have gathered up all my favorite tips, tricks and resources in this blog to help you navigate how to start a business in Denver.
A.K. INSIDER TIP:
Start a "big ideas" journal before you begin this process and keep all of your notes in one place so you can reflect back on your journey later. You can use your own words in your business plan and marketing/website copy later.
Step 1: Determine if starting a business is for you.
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. Before you decide to dive in to business ownership or even choose which business to start, grab your journal, take a moment to look inside yourself and answer these questions honestly. As you answer them, consider how your answers will have an impact on your ability to start a business.
Step 2: Get clear on your personal vision.
Now that you've passed the first test, it's time to get aligned and ensure your personal goals match your business goals. It's important that you understand your intentions, motivation and vision completely, because ultimately, you're the only one who can determine what success means in your life. You're the one who determines what makes you happy. And, you're the one who will choose how to spend your time. Jump in the driver's seat with these questions that get to the heart of your personal vision.
Step 3: Choose the right business.
I often meet entrepreneurs who have two or more ideas and they are trying to decide which one to start. If this is you, you're not alone. That's the nature of entrepreneurship - we want to solve problems and have lots of ideas swimming in our heads at once. But, it's time to get focused. So pick up that journal again, and ask yourself a few more questions to narrow in on a business that solves customer problems, plays to your talents and fits your lifestyle.
Step 4: Test your business idea.
Before you make any life-altering changes that can't easily be undone, take some time to first evaluate your business idea to see if it has the legs you hope it does. Make sure you're really committed to it for the long haul. The way I see it, it's much cheaper and easier to realize you don't want to own a business while you're still in the planning stages than it is when you're already invested and operating it. Here are a few ideas to help you evaluate whether your idea is viable. Keep in mind that not all of these ideas will
Step 5: Write a business plan.
If you're ready to get a little more serious, it's time to put pen to paper. I know what you're thinking - do I really need a business plan? The answer is yes. Writing a business plan doubles your chances of success (Small Business Administration) and helps you determine the profitability of your idea. Your business plan is the guiding document for your business - for investors, lenders, partners, employees, bankers, landlords, and most importantly, for you! You're the first person who needs to get behind this business plan. The business plan is not a stale document - it is meant to change and expand as the business grows. Writing a solid business plan takes time, but there are lots of resources out there to help you. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Step 6: Determine financing needs.
In Denver, most new businesses are initially financed by the owner, family, friends, and personal business contacts. It's not impossible to obtain outside financing, but it's often more difficult. Most outside financing comes from commercial banks, savings and loan institutions. Below is a list of financing options for small businesses in Denver. The City of Denver also put together a complete Denver Capital Matrix with a list of funding sources for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
If you plan to seek financing for your business from any of the sources above, you will need a solid business plan (see step 5). Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Step 7: Decide your legal structure.
There are several choices of business formats in Colorado including sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, corporation, limited liability company, registered limited liability partnership, registered limited liability limited partnership and limited partnership association.
Step 8: Register your business in Denver.
Step 9: Understand tax obligations.