Starting a Small Business? Check Out These Amazing Resources

About three years ago, thousands of librarians descended upon Denver for the Public Library Association conference. Being just a moderate walk from the Convention Center, the Central Library rolled out the welcome wagon to our comrades-in-books. I cannot tell you how many times I heard our visitors remark on the Wynkoop Brewery, specifically the fact that former Denver mayor and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper founded it.

Being a Colorado native, I'm convinced that anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds in Colorado since 2003 knows the Wynkoop's place in Colorado political history. Being also a thoroughly jaded individual, I thought this bite-sized piece of PR was just an easy way to project an image of a state that has a laid back attitude. But now that I am a librarian who helps entrepreneurs with business research, I can affirm that this inescapable piece of Hicken-lore is founded in truth: Colorado is deeply committed to its small businesses. In fact, the Small Business Administration reported in 2018 that over 600,000 small businesses call Colorado home.

I am one of a team of librarians based out of Central's Reference Services who operate our BizBoost appointment service. This service allows for an entrepreneur and a BizBoost librarian to set aside a time to review relevant resources and how to use the library's subscription tools to do business research. Usually, BizBoost librarians assist with research in the areas of learning about an industry at large, locating competitors or partners, and narrowing down a target market. The BizBoost service is geared mostly toward new entrepreneurs who are already in the process of creating a business plan or established business owners seeking to expand their market. (If I've just described you, please feel free to set up a BizBoost appointment by filling out this online form.)

However, there are so many more facets to starting a business that our BizBoost services do not  (or cannot, in the case of legal questions) cover: legal structure, taxes, licensing, etc. Fortunately, we in Denver are replete with fantastic, business-oriented resources that support those starting small businesses at all stages of the process. 

Online Resources
There are many resources that you can access online that can get you acquainted with the process of starting a business. 

  • Colorado Business Resource Book. This eBook is published by the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and is a great introduction to starting a business in Colorado. Inside you can comprehensive definitions of terms, plus a checklist to keep you on-track. It is available as a free download in both English and Spanish.
     
  • MyBiz Colorado. Registering a business involves multiple state agencies. In order to streamline this process, Colorado Secretary of State's office launched this new tool in summer 2018, available in both English and Spanish. Even the URL is easy to remember: mybiz.colorado.gov. (And, of course, the intro video features none other than John Hickenlooper.)
     
  • Small Business Navigator. If you still have questions about your startup, Colorado SBDC also has a great web page that connects you to their Small Business Navigator. You can call the number listed with any startup questions, but make sure to read the page as well. It's chock full of contact numbers for the various agencies involved in starting a business in Colorado.    
     
  • Municipal/County Websites. Depending on where you want to start your business, web searching can turn up some really helpful things. For example, City and County of Denver's Business Licensing Services page is a wealth of information. This great index can guide you through the process of obtaining various business licenses. Sometimes these pages have specially created guides to help entrepreneurs navigate multiple city departments, such as the Retail Mobile Food License page. Be sure to read the whole page. It can be easy to miss links to additional documentation, such as this Denver Food Truck Guide (linked in a gray box on the right side of the Retail Mobile Food License page).

In-Person Resources
There are also a number of opportunities for in-person entrepreneur support in Colorado. Many of the following organizations partner with DPL's BizBoost service to give entrepreneurs well-rounded assistance in pursuing a small business. 

  • Mi Casa Resource Center's Women's Business Center. Mi Casa has been serving Denver's community for over 40 years, including supporting entrepreneurs since the '80s. Many of their resources are available in both English and Spanish.
     

    • Mi Casa has a large range of workshops (both one-time and multi-week intensives), including a free, three-hour class called "Considering a Business?" designed for entrepreneurs exploring that very question. You can view this and other opportunities on their online calendar.
       
    • Mi Casa offers free one-on-one business consulting to those who have completed the "Considering a Business?" class mentioned above.
       
    • For those who are eligible, Mi Casa can also assist with legal questions and business financing.
       
  • Colorado Small Business Development Center Network. Colorado has a strong network of Small Business Development Center (SBDC) chapters all over the state. DPL works most closely with the Denver Metro and Aurora-South Metro chapters. SBDC chapters offer:
     

    • In-person training sessions and workshops, from one-time sessions to multi-week, intensive classes. Check out this events calendar to see what's coming up. Use the drop-down menus to filter for specific locations, topics, or timelines. (Please note that costs may apply to attend these opportunities.) 
       
    • One-on-one business consulting. Some locations (including both Denver Metro and Aurora-South Metro chapters) require those seeking consulting appointments to first attend a class that covers Start-Up Basics. Use this list to navigate to your preferred chapter. Once you're at the chapter's homepage, select the Consulting tab to view its specific requirements. 
       
    • In addition to in-person support, SBDC provides free eLearning videos in both English and Spanish, plus free interactive resource tools on a number of topics related to startups.
       
  • Rocky Mountain Micro Finance Institute. Rocky Mountain Micro Finance Institute (RMMFI) is another resource available to entrepreneurs, specifically those who are at or below certain income levels. In addition to classes, they can offer short-term microloans. Read more about their programs and entrepreneurial eligibility on this page.
     
  • The Commons on Champa. A charitable organization under Downtown Denver Partnership, the Commons on Champa is designed to be a hub for Denver's entrepreneurs. In addition to programs, events, and even reservable space, this organization partners with Denver's Office of Economic Development to provide free consulting by appointment

Library Resources
Even if a BizBoost appointment isn't a good fit for a particular question, it's just one facet of everything DPL has to offer.

  • The Book Collection. As a public library, it's our duty to collect materials that appeal to a broad array of people. That includes books on all aspects of business, including starting your own. Keyword search specific terms in our catalog, or try the subject heading new business enterprises for a broad results list.
     
  • Business Topic Page. We've created a one-stop shop for our best online business resources (for those interested in a BizBoost appointment, most things we explore are on this page). Those new to the business process might be served by browsing tutorials in Lynda Library or by examining real business plans in Business Plans Handbook
     
  • Classes from the Community Technology Center. For those looking at building a website, develop a social media presence, or some of the more technological aspects of entrepreneurship, check out the resources available from Central's tech experts. This April, DPL's Build a Brand series will be offered Wednesday evenings at our Hadley Branch. This series is specifically designed to help entrepreneurs. Build a Brand is free, registration is not required, and participants can attend any or all of the classes depending on their specific needs. 

If you're thinking about starting your own business in Colorado, you're in a great place to do it. If you're at an early stage of the business process, explore these resources and feel free to drop a line to our BizBoost librarians when you're ready to dig into research. 

Questions? Ask Reference Services or call 720-865-1363 today!

The image used in this blog was found using a Creative Commons search. Learn more about this photo by visiting its original source at this link.

Written by Lauren on March 20, 2019

Comments

Eric Bird on March 31, 2019

Comment

I have a friend, a conservative type guy for misguided reasons. He dislikes Hickenlooper so furiously, that I hesitate to send him this page, despite his entrepreneurial aspirations. I too, I should admit, find it odd that he appears in the text at all. A mention perhaps, a nod. Not a weird anecdote.

Our neighbors have become so prickly and indignant. It's a shame. My friend resembles a hedgehog.

-eric b