With a great mind for numbers and forthright approach, Dale Clack is considered one of the best small business consultants in the country.
Working for the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center over the last three years, Clack has been a driving force for small businesses in need of financial expertise. He has met with over 100 individual businesses. Not only does he continually show clients how best to take advantage of the Chamber and SBDC, but he also has been a major contributor to developing strong financial programs and continues to be a thought leader in how best to meet the needs of the small business community.
Clack is a powerful example for the region of what the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce does every day for small businesses, and that is why he is our spring Chamber Champion. We got to hear from him valuable tips for starting a business and what he does in his free time.
Business Altitude: Who has been your most important mentor?
Dale Clack: Over the years, I have had many people in my life that I learned something from, who helped me on my way. Starting with a CPA and assistant treasurer of Marathon Oil company decades ago, through today to Abram Sloss, my director at the Denver Metro SBDC, all have been influential. Perhaps it is now my turn to be a mentor. I really enjoy being a coach to entrepreneurs and I am passionate
about improving their financial literacy and the resulting performance of their enterprises. That is partly why I developed a tool that helps them understand the numbers in their business before they approach a lender for funding.
BA: What makes Colorado such a great place for small businesses?
DC: I moved here from California in 1994. Originally, I was drawn by the lifestyle of outdoor adventure, coupled with some business opportunity. As the Denver metro area has certainly grown since then, it is great to see the improvement in diversity of industry and the development of infrastructure and leadership that supports small business. From Denver Start-up Week to the various incubators that
have started in recent years, Colorado is clearly on the map for small business opportunity and
BA: Do you have a hidden talent?
DC: Public company stock investment analysis. See, I am all about numbers. While many would expect a person trained as an accountant to be an investor who follows the financial “fundamentals,” I enjoy adding in “technical analysis” with charting stock price and volume.
BA: What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
DC: That would be to “plan early.” For example, when you think about the power of compound interest, the earlier one puts away savings for retirement, the more he or she will have later. But also, when a person starts a business, it is critical to plan it before starting, so that the optimum potential of the business might be obtained.
BA: What is your favorite hobby or activity outside of work?
DC: I like to ski fast downhill. I did not develop that talent until about 20 years ago. I was introduced to skiing on a hilly farm as a kid in Michigan, but did not take it up until much later in life. Few people know that I have held the unofficial world record for the most ski areas skied in one day, at 18. In the process, two friends and I raised $20,000 from private parties to benefit the U.S. Paralympic ski team. I say “unofficial” record because Guinness would not create a category for us, considering it’s not
“super-human.” In short, I love downhill skiing, even without awards. Let’s go!
BA: What impact has the Chamber had on your career?
DC: The experience of just being here, the energy and the friendliness of this place, is awesome. My job has been to coach entrepreneurs who are clients of the SBDC. As a part-time independent consultant, I am not here every day. When I am here, the ability to associate with so many business professionals
in different industries, and especially in business lending, has allowed me to blossom and help others through my financial knowledge. Hands down, this is the place to be in Colorado in order to feel the pulse of what is going on around us, both politically and economically.
BA: As an expert in small business, what advice would you give to someone looking to get started?
DC: a. Write a business plan
b. Know your numbers
c. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before.
d. Remember that you still have a boss—employees, and your family who depend onyou for their livelihood—so be committed to the success of this endeavor.
Kathryn Goggin is an events specialist for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
[Photo by JD Hancock]