State of Small Business: 4 Tips for Finding Funding

In business, sales—and how you sell—matter. Especially as an entrepreneur or small business owner. Funding, and the dos and don’ts of this essential business need, were a focus at the State of Small Business on Wednesday.

Hosted by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center in partnership with the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, the event offered 300 business leaders an opportunity to hear the latest trends affecting small businesses, which make up almost 98 percent of businesses in Colorado.

Panelists (from right to left): Peter Adams, Matt Anderson and Ceyl Prinster.

Local business leaders Peter Adams, executive director of Rockies Venture Club; Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund; and Matt Anderson, chief digital officer and president of Arrow Electronics, joined Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough to discuss funding opportunities—and how businesses of any size can support Colorado’s entrepreneurial community. Development Research Partners President and Chief Economist Patty Silverstein also provided an update on the economy and its impact on small businesses. They each offered these tips for business owners:

There are more funding opportunities than you may realize. From crowdfunding and venture capital to traditional loans and impact investing, there is a wide variety of options for organizations looking for funding, Prinster said: “I think we have a great ecosystem for funding here in Colorado. People and businesses have different needs at different times … We all try to work together.”

Use the internet to test your ideas. It’s never been cheaper to fail, Anderson said, but you’ve got a great litmus test in the palm of your hand: “[The internet] really allows the whole world to take a look at your idea and validate that it’s a good idea.”

Be ready to respond to changes in the market. Changes in demographics and slowing growth will impact the Denver metro area’s economy, Silverstein said. How business owners respond matters: “I encourage you all in the coming year to become realists,” she said. “You have to be able to adapt very, very quickly.”

Know your end goal for your business. Don’t just focus on the product or service, Adams cautioned, because investors want to understand the impact to them: “It’s missing from about 80 percent of pitches that I see is the exit strategy,” he said. “That’s what’s exciting for investors. They can see how they’re going to get their money back.”

And while funding matters, “the money alone is not going to be the only challenge a company faces,” Brough said, later adding, “It takes more than individual. It takes teamwork.”

The strength of the supportive community within the region was often a focal point.

“At the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, we see that small business in our state is healthy,” said Abram Sloss, executive director of the Chamber affiliate the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center—pointing to the collaborative environment of startups and the organizations that work with them.

Kate Paul honored as Bill Daniels Ethical Leader of the Year

Dean of the University of Colorado Denver Business School with Kate Paul, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado and recipient of the Bill Daniels Ethical Leader of the Year award.

For the second year, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, in partnership with the Chamber and the Denver Metro SBDC, awarded the Bill Daniels Ethical Leader of the Year. Kate Paul, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado, is the 2016 honoree.

The award is named in honor of Daniels, the cable television pioneer, and the ethical principles he stood for: integrity, trust, accountability, fairness, respect, transparency, viability and rule of law.

University of Colorado Denver Business School Dean Rohan Christie-David pointed to Paul’s work early in her career to bring more transparency and accountability to health care.

“Her efforts impacted the industry,” Christie-David said.

As the head of Delta Dental, Paul has focused on improving oral health and has committed 50 percent of the company’s net revenue to reinvest in local oral health efforts.

“It is an honor to receive this recognition from the University of Colorado Denver Business School, and to be the second recipient is particularly humbling. It is also an honor to share this recognition with my friends here at the Chamber with whom I have worked for many, many years,” Paul said. “We are lucky to live in a state where there are so many men and women deserving of recognition for their ethical leadership.”

Sara Crocker is the communications manager for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.