Drumbeat is a Denver-based online business magazine that reviews local businesses in the Denver, Aurora and the entire metro area. We focus on businesses that we believe are marching to their own drumbeat. Some of what you will find here:
What works in Denver, CO? In other words, what are business owners doing to survive in these tough economic times? We focus in particular on unique or off the beaten path approaches.
Beating big business profile. We look at a local small business in Denver and Aurora that are beating larger corporate competitors. What are they doing to not only keep up with the big dogs but to actually run ahead!?
Networking opportunities. We love to connect Colorado entrepreneurs! We will often host meetups at local coffee shops or other venues where like-minded business owners can share trade secrets or just talk to a friend in business. Our next meetup is focused on veterinary practices (of which there are many in Denver!) and is on July 8th, 2017 at Starbucks on Martin Luther King Blvd.
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June’s small business profile is Parkside Animal Health Center, which is an animal hospital located in SE Aurora. Parkside has been open for roughly four years and the owner, Dr. Brenda Eisenhauer, has gone through all the ups and downs of a normal small business and learned quite a few lessons along the way. We sat down with her (which was no easy task with her schedule) and here we’ve boiled down the conversation into three main points that she’s learned over the years:
Before we tell the story of Parkside we should give a little background on Dr. E. Dr. E has an extensive and varied history working with animals- both pets and wildlife. She has traveled throughout the US and spent some time in the Galapagos as part of her undergrad work. In 2004, everything came together when she received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University. Dr. E made her way to Denver as quickly as possible where she also earned a Certificate in Public Health from Colorado University making her even more well rounded. Throughout her time in Colorado, and before opening the doors of Parkside, Dr. E spent a great deal of time working in area shelters. She still works at shelter 2 days a week and balances her passion for caring for homeless pets with the unending demands of a small business owner. And we aren’t the only ones who think Brenda is doing pretty well! Dr. E and her animal clinic won the Aurora chamber’s small business person of the year in 2016! So we sat down with Brenda for a few hours and summarized the biggest points she’s learned to balance her crazy schedule!
#1 Be Specific!
Notice any irony with our header? Pretty unspecific right? We did that to make a point! If you’ve ever managed people, you quickly learn how unclear you can actually be. Even when you think you’re being clear as…well, mud. But more than that, Dr. E urges small business owners to be specific with themselves! If you don’t have a specific vision then you can’t possible communicate anything specific to your associates. Dr. E says, “I’ve talked to a lot of other veterinarians through various networking opportunities and over and over again I hear very similar comments about starting their own practice. They may have a lot of things worked out but one question that often can’t answer is- when?” Deadlines work and they just have to be externally created. And if you can’t create your own deadlines help others do it for you. Announce that date of your new practice on social media or to your close friends and family. Let social pressure create a deadline for you.
Dr. E shared a story that you may have heard before but that bears repeating. The story, though it is likey not true, is about the Spanish conquistador Cortez and how to push his men further he burned the boats that were their only way home. Now, there is only one way forward and that’s the jungle. Here’s a great retelling of the story:
Depending on responsive you are to social pressure, simply sharing your goals on social media can really change things and be an effective way of “burning your boats”.
You also have to be specific about so much more than dates. Dr. E comments, “You have to know what you’re going to do and what makes you different. You have to find something to be the best at. This is why going for a specific niche can be easier for some newer owners.” She elaborates by pointing out that veterinarians need to look at their particular region and see what they can do differently. You might not be able to beat the high-end technology used at a Banfield or other highly corporate practice but can you offer a high standard of veterinary medicine with a better client relationship? What about a feline-only veterinary clinic? Right away, by becoming more specific in your scope of practice you remove some competition. The simplest way to start practicing specificity is to create a business plan- and share it. But share with who?
#2 Build a Network!
Find other people with similar goals. Sounds simple right? Well, like many tips from small business owners, they are simple. But the hard part is starting! Drumbeat and Dr. E recommend you do whatever you can but that you just start! You can social media to find like-minded business owners and veterinarians or you can tap into a community that is specific to veterinarians like VIN (Veterinary Information Network) to start networking. While most people find working off of social media easier, Dr. E highly recommends working with your local Chamber of Commerce. Even if you only attend a Chamber meeting once or a twice a year, the opportunity to meet people face to face is always better.
Obviously making connections can allow you to tap into resources and information that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to but it can also help you stay accountable. Attending a Chamber meeting full of people trying to accomplish that same task, or rather mission as you can’t be substituted for any online meeting. Not only that, but a local meet up in Aurora shows you other people who are doing what you want to do too! It lets you get face to face with people are successfully running a business in Aurora! It also lets you meet more people who may be a great fit for your company. You know, some potential hires?
Delegate! Business owners are terrible at this and it shows in the 60 hour work weeks. Dr. E says she was there in the beginning, “I’m a veterinarian and a business owner. I’m not an accountant, a marketing expert or a web designer. When you’re first starting out it seems like you have to be expert at everything! Not true! There are a variety of affordable experts in the Aurora area. Not to mention all the resources online. And using an expert allows you to save hours of your own time!” To summarize Dr. E’s point in our words, you need to find out what is a “you” task and stick with those. You don’t have to be an accountant, but you do have to a veterinarian. Or the face of your business. Or any number of tasks depending on your business.
You can also utilize resources who are already in your network. Ask around, you may surprise at how many people already know something about web design, marketing, graphic design or accounting. Dr E. notes, “I was lucky enough to have a friend already in the field who also did web design work. I was able to utilize her for a cheaper price (in exchange for discounted veterinary services from us) and I personally believe we have the best Aurora animal clinic website. But I may be a little biased.”
What’s important is to find a professional who is also willing to teach. While you don’t need to know the details of everything you accountant is doing, you do need to understand the basic concepts and you accountant should be able to explain everything to you with clarity and simplicity. The mark of a true expert is someone who can explain complicated concepts and tasks in simple terms- accept nothing less from your experts.
Denver is a wonderful place to live. And the world is starting to notice! Over the last several years Denver and the metro area has seen a massive surge in population. Yes, that means more traffic. But that also means more customers! But those of you who don’t know why Denver is so appealing, let’s go over the top 4 reasons Denver is a great place to live and work!
Close to Boulder
I know, we are a Denver-based magazine but we focus on all resources and Boulder is certainly one of them. Boulder is a quick 30 minutes drive from Denver and the college town is also ranked as the second startup accelerator in the US. It attracts hundreds of new startups and businesses every year. Every place in this city including coffee shops and bars are full of entrepreneurial activities. This culture can be seen in Denver too. It also offers a large amount new grads that can help provide the skilled labor needed to grow your business.
By living in Denver, you get the benefits of a big city (instead of a college town) but access to an entrepreneurial hub!
Reasonable Cost of Living
The cost of living here is very low compared to other cities with similar standards of living. While housing was cheap a few years ago, it is steadily increasing. Still, as compared to other major US cities, Denver and the surrounding suburban areas allow for a much more reasonable rent. You will get the best of everything here, including school, university, parks, restaurants, transportation, etc.
In Denver, you will get 300 days of sunshine. It is crazy to even say that! While you normally think of Florida or California when it comes to a number of sunny days, Colorado and Denver beats them both. This makes it easy to stay fit and stay happy!
There are lots of parks and scenic sites in Denver. The mountains are only a short drive and offer a variety of other outdoor activities. Skiers, hikers or poolside loungers will all have plenty to do.
According to Forbes, Denver is repeatedly a top-ranked area for business development and career growth. This is for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at a few below:
#1 High Standard of Living at a Reasonable Price
Denver is well positioned as one of the major business hubs of the Midwest. Denver is large enough to provide access to all the amenities of the big city but at a much more reasonable cost.
The city attracts high-quality employees who want a taste of the outdoors too. Employees can enjoy lots of outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, mountain biking, rafting, climbing, snowboarding, etc. You will find great hospitals and universities in the city. Though the cost of living here is slightly more than the national average, you will lead a very high-quality life here. Consider that according to Forbes, the cost of living is 7.8% above the national average. Compare that to New York City where the cost of living is 22% above the national average!
#2 Support from the Mayor and the Governor
The Governor and the Mayor of Denver support the startup scene of the city. They formed ‘Colorado Innovation Network’ which aims to form a network between higher education, research institution, entrepreneurs and the industry leaders. While every city should support job-creating entrepreneurs, not every city does.
#3 An Educated Workforce
Denver has a college attainment rate, again according to Forbes, of 41.8%. Compare that to the 38% offered by New York and you can see how Denver stay competitive with some of the top cities in the world. Every business needs experts and Denver has no shortage of them.
Denver is one of the best places for early-stage venture capital investment. So, startup companies get a great opportunity to grow their business here.
Denver is a great place to start your startup. There is huge potential and the market is also business-friendly. There is everything present to grow a successful business here.
Denver is Colorado’s capital city. It is famous for its beautiful views, rich culture, and high altitude. Here are some interesting facts about Denver that you should know.
1. Denver wasn’t founded on a major transportation system, unlike the other cities in the state. The settlers discovered gold in this region and so people started to come here. The original settlement was founded by the gold miners and it was called Montana city. Eventually, three cities together became known as Denver, which included Montana City, Auraria, and St. Charles.
2. It is the home to five professional sports teams. NFL (Denver Broncos), NBA (Denver Nuggets), and MLB (Colorado Rockies), NHL (Colorado Avalanche) and MLS (Colorado Rapids). You will find lots of games being held here and many supporters of these games. So, it is a great place for sports enthusiasts.
3. It won’t host Olympics. It was given an invitation to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, but it rejected the invitation over concerns about over populating the city.
4. The Denver International Airport is very large. There are 53 square miles of runways, hangars, and terminals. It is one of the top four largest airports in the U.S. in terms of air traffic.
5. It is the home of the cheeseburger. Louis E. Ballast of Denver has the trademark for this food. He is the owner of the Humpty-Dumpty Barrel Drive-In. He made this delicious burger in 1935 and trademarked it. There is a stone slab in Denver made in his honor.
If you haven’t visited Denver yet, you should. It is a great place to visit with lots of history, culture, and activities. The city is very beautiful and you will have a great time.