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Planning ahead for 2013: the year you work on your business

By Mary Jo Coulehan
SUN Columnist

All around the community, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and businesses are planning for 2013.

What will happen if the community tax base decreases significantly? Who will get funded? How will your business adjust? What is the forecast for tourism in 2013 and how can you plan for it? Are you bringing any new products or services to your business and what are the income and expense outcomes of adding an amenity?

These are questions all business owners should be asking themselves in preparation for the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.

How many business owners actually prepare a budget or business plan for the upcoming year? If you don’t, perhaps this is the time that you should look into running your business with a plan — not on “a wing and a prayer.”

Do you want to maintain the status of your business or engage in some growth? With growth, there is the addition of product, service or modification of some sort. Have you checked out the expenses involved, including training, promotional materials and advertising, and any modifications to the physical property? If your business is experiencing static sales, have you researched the addition of a different product? Business owners should know the profit margin of the different items in their store: Is a particular product line producing minimal return? Can you find a comparable line with a larger profit margin, and are you getting the product produced at the best price? Should you drop a product and add a new one? This is the time of year to be researching new vendors, new items and new plans.

In your budget, do you include training for yourself and your staff? Training and advertising are two of the main categories cut from a budget when times get tough. Look at training in a different manner: If you or your staff return from a training session and implement one or two cost-saving or proactive measures, this idea could increase sales or control costs resulting in more income for your company. When budgeting, don’t cut out training. The Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Small Business Development Center offer free or inexpensive classes all year long. Attend the Chamber’s Maximizing Your Business lunch session. This free class will give you ideas on how you can better utilize your Chamber membership and all the tools included with that membership. Classes are held every month typically the last Monday of the month. Plan now to attend the 2013 Business Expo. Get off the sidelines and get your business involved. Don’t assume that others know all the services and products that you offer. Sure, you serve lunch and dinner, but do people know that you also cater? Do people know that in addition to selling gift items, you can do gift baskets or special items for wedding or reunion favors? These are just a few examples of getting your business some exposure. We have other ideas to present at the Business Expo in 2013 and we hope business owners will attend.

Take advantage of one of the many mini-classes offered through the SBDC and Chamber, including Quickbooks training, social marketing, web presence and starting your business, to name a few. Time is difficult to come by when you own your own business, but if you don’t plan to improve your business and make more effective use of your time, your business will have a tendency to run you. If you would like assistance with any issues or classes, contact the Chamber. Counseling services are provided with your membership and we would be happy to assist you in planning or improving your business. Make 2013 the year that you work on your business, not just in your business.

Speaking of classes

There are a few classes coming up that will be offered by the SBDC in Durango.

If you are looking to expand your business or get one off the ground, one of these classes might be for you.

Do you have an idea for a product you would like to either manufacture or license? On Oct. 20, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., there will be the Inventors’ Boot Camp held at Fort Lewis College at the Education Business Hall, Room 110. The cost is $30. The topics covered will be: Turning your Idea Into Something You Can Sell, Prototyping and Manufacturing and Crowdfunding — What is it and Can You Use it? This course will be taught by experts in their fields and it could save you thousands of dollars if you wish to research producing a product. Register by Wednesday, Oct. 17, by calling 247-7009.

On Thursday, Oct. 25, a representative from PTAC (Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center) will teach a class on government contract topics, including Migrating Your CCR to SAM and Contractors: Understanding the Davis Bacon Act. If you are interested in bidding on government contracts, whether state or federal, this is an important class to take. This would be a great session for contractors or subcontractors looking to expand their business, for those providing a service such as catering, or those business owners interested in selling a product to the government. The class will be held at the Durango Library at 1900 E. 3rd Ave. from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and it is free. You can register by contacting info@coloradoptac.org.

The last SBDC class to mention will be held Thursday, Nov. 8, and will be geared to businesses that have a product they would like to export internationally. Craig Maginess, president of the World Trade Center Denver, will be the facilitator from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Fort Lewis College Education Business Hall, Room 130. He will guide you through how to best enter the international market, where to make contacts, about barriers to overcome such as language and exchange rates, and how to fend off corruption. This is an important class if you are anticipating moving into this arena. The cost of the class is $75 for WTC members and $150 for non-members. To register, go to http://tinyurl.com/wtcdenver-export.

The Pagosa Springs Chamber will also be offering one more class on Facebook Marketing and a Women in Business session before the end of the year. Stay tuned for dates and content.

E-Cycling is back

On Saturday, Oct. 27, the Archuleta County Solid Waste Department and the Chamber of Commerce will host an E-Cycle Day.

You will be able to recycle your electronic equipment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the athletic field parking area across from Town Park. There will be fees involved to e-cycle, but we will have all the material necessary to package and ship off your electronic items so they can be disposed of properly. Items to be e-cycled include cell and Smart phones, batteries (including laptop and cell phone), game stations, small office items such as phones, adding machines or calculators, scanners, fax machines, printers, copiers, vacuums, microwaves, monitors, laptops and CPUs. The cost varies, depending on the item. Look for posters around town or contact the Chamber for a general idea on pricing.

Senate Bill 12-133 was just signed by the governor, prohibiting the disposal of electronic equipment into any landfill as of July 1, 2013. Why wait until 2013 — e-cycle your equipment and electronic items now!

Business news

Remember, if your business is modifying operating hours or closing for vacation, let the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center know. There is nothing worse than giving out incorrect information or sending visitors to your establishment only to have them discover the facility is closed.

We have just a few renewals to mention this week. We welcome back Colorado Workforce Center/The Training Advantage; Team Murphy Realty; and Pagosa Auto Parts.

Let the Chamber know if we can help you plan your 2013 business year. We are available for consulting and training. One of our goals is to help our businesses succeed.

This story was posted on October 17, 2012.