Grand Enterprise Initiative
Free & Confidential Business Coaching
Posted on April 17th, 2019

Imagine that.

Activity is brewing in Granby that promises to change the look and feel of downtown and the town in general. And much of this planned activity harkens to an evolving conception of Granby and its locale.

Whereas in the past Granby might have been seen as more of a nuts-and-bolts town geared toward services and schools, the new aspirational thinking about Granby’s future sees it more as a resort and tourism town anchored by its location and strong links to the great outdoors of the Rocky Mountains.

Take, as an example, a retail store and information center, linked with a coffee shop, that’s planning to open its doors soon. Called Two Pines Supply, this new business will be located in the former Villager store and Alpine West location across from the former LongBranch. Anyone who’s been keeping their eyes open in Granby will have noticed the extensive renovations and remodeling taking place in the building.

Chris Olivier, the owner of the store, aspires for it to be “the go-to resource for camping, hiking, mountain biking, and other backcountry activities for every season.”
The very name of the business harkens to an outdoor ethic. It refers to a John Muir quote: “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

Two Pines will be a retail store that sells and rents supplies geared toward the outdoors such as backpacking gear, general hiking gear, climbing gear and more. It will also work with Lucas Harville at Lion Head Coffee where a roaster and tasting bar will be in place in the store.
So while the store will be a retail outlet that also rents, it also aspires to be an information resource that is also a convening and gathering place for information relating to the outdoors.
“It’s like we have this huge playground in Grand County for activities of all kinds,” Olivier says. “Most people think of it as just skiing. But there’s so much more year-round. People are looking at what to do here and we want to be that resource . . . We want to the go-to resource for outdoor things. Tents, sleeping bags, tires, gear and advice.”

Olivier, who has an extensive background in retail and outdoor activities, has been looking at Granby as a place that has a unique geographical and economic configuration for Grand County.

“I think Granby is in the spot to be in this Valley what Eagle is to Vail,” he says. “Granby is going to become so much more so for Winter Park and Grand Lake.”

The new Sun Communities RV Park that is set for a soft opening this summer, bodes well for increased interest and traffic in Granby for people looking to do things in the outdoors. Built along the Colorado River and branded as such, the new higher-end RV Park bodes well for Granby as a new gateway community to all that is outdoors in Grand County.

Not only that, if affordable housing proposals associated with the Sun Communities project and elsewhere pan out, Granby will become even more of the “down-valley” town where people who work in Grand County come to live. And play.

Also in the works for that part of Granby is a food truck restaurant option that reflects the growing popularity of that sort of dining opportunity. To be run by Lucas Harville of Lion Head Coffee behind R and J Liquors, this new venture will serve as an additional asset making that area of Granby and attractive place to stop and visit for outdoor information and stuff, food and drink. Granby’s brewery, Never Summer Brewing, is located right in the same vicinity, along with Maverick’s.

A new “buzz” is coming to that part of Granby.

A long time ago Granby was known as the Dude Ranch Capital of America, a moniker it could still reliably display. Now it can add a new brand about its position as a gateway to the great Colorado outdoors.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

Posted on February 20th, 2019

It was interesting and sad to watch.

When I first moved to Granby almost 40 years ago there was a different sort of economy that dominated the town’s main street. It’s an economy that’s greatly diminished now all because of one big public infrastructure project called the Eisenhower Tunnels on Interstate 70.

What has pretty much vanished is what I call the gas station and motel economic engine.
When I first drove into Granby there were nine gas stations within the 10 block stretch of what we now call downtown main street Granby. Nine. There were 10 if you include The Barn Store at the intersection of 34 and 40.

(Note: A similar metamorphosis took place in Fraser and Kremmling.)

Now there are three in what I call the close-in downtown of Granby, by including the Kum and Go.

Back then Granby had three massive gas station signs towering over the downtown. These were those Interstate-scale types of gas station signs on massive sign poles or scaffolds that towered over the town like hot air balloons.

Little did I know then that when I moved into town then I was going to witness the quick collapse of that gas station economy. And with each gas station that closed there was a local family story that was disrupted by the whims and machinations of the Colorado highway system.

You see, the twin tunnels at the top of the pass where I-70 makes its way into Summit County from Clear Creek County took a big stigma out of the drive that many people had about the drive into the mountains of Colorado. Before the tunnels were open there was the spectre of Loveland Pass or Berthoud Pass if a driver wanted to go west and ski, fish or hike. And just the idea of driving either one of those passes really sent shivers of fear and trepidation through the souls of drivers. To this day, I hear people swoon almost over the prospect of having to drive over Berthoud Pass.

Anyway, back then, as soon as those tunnels were opened, along with that nice new Interstate highway to the top of the hill, the vast majority of the traffic that used to come over Berthoud and through Grand County on Highway 40 suddenly started going the other way to the Twin Tunnels. Within a year the impact to the gas station economy in Granby, and the economy in general, was obvious.

In three years three gas stations closed. They just couldn’t make it. Alvae Boettler closed his down. Dave shut down his station. One guy closed and vanished overnight. Pete Robinson, God bless his soul, held on with something like a real service station for another 20 years. But even Pete’s 66, which was also at one time Pete’s Mobil, closed down.

And then there’s the motel businesses. Several of the old motels still exist, just outside the town of Granby limits to the west. They harken back to an age of motoring and excursion that typified the Sixties and Seventies. But there were several other motels of that ilk all up and down Granby’s main street when I moved here in 1979. The Q Z Motel, the Snowflake motel, the El Monte Motel, Bill’s Modern Court – just to name a few, are all gone. I even lived in the Snowflake Motel for my first three months in Granby, a sign of the economic evolution here from motoring visitors to housing employees, and then, well, oblivion for that motel.
And believe it or not there was a real subculture of the downhill skiing public in the Sixties and Seventies that made it a point to drive to Granby for the lodging so they could afford a ski vacation at what was then called the Winter Park Ski Area. Really. Granby had the motel beds for many Winter Park skiers.

The whole point of this is that economies can change very quickly, sometimes the result of two tunnels built in the mountains. But economies also evolve, sometimes in great ways.
Look at what we have now where those gas stations used to be: Retail store and visitors’s center, Granby Garage tap room and restaurant, excellent parking on main street, a savings bank, an auto repair shop. And in place of the motels? New electrical utility headquarters building, restaurant and retail space, expanded parking, longterm lodging for employees. And we’ve still got some great, classic motel lodging.

So we’ve evolved economically and managed to stay out of that area many call the “sacrifice zone,” the Interstate 70 corridor. Now, so many years later, we can count our blessings.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.
 

Posted on February 12th, 2019

It’s just plain, flat-out counter intuitive.

The last three-and-a-half years of my work for the Grand Enterprise Initiative has put me in contact with 210 entrepreneurs in Grand County. These are people who have had dreams, ideas and existing businesses. Some wanted to start businesses. Others simply wanted to explore ideas. Many wanted to improve or expand their existing businesses.

And I did not “knock on the door” or “solicit” any of them. I did not stop them on the street and tell them I could help. I did not walk into their businesses and give them unsolicited advice. I did not call them up.

They called me.

This fact reflects an important element of the work I do for the Grand Enterprise Initiative, through which I provide free and confidential business coaching to anyone in Grand County. We believe strongly that we can only help people who want to be helped. I am forbidden, in fact, from approaching people and telling them that I can help them.

On my very first day on this job, Ernesto Sirolli, the founder of Enterprise Facilitation, told me in no uncertain terms that he would not tolerate it if he learned that I had initiated contact with any person or business.  (The Sirolli Institute has established hundreds of Enterprise Facilitation programs around the globe.)

“I will fire you,” he said firmly in his Italian accent. “We don’t call people. We call back them back.”

This was a difficult admonition to follow during those first three months when the program was just getting started and I was waiting for the phone to ring so I could prove my worth. Slowly but surely, however, the phone did start to ring and the e-mails flowed to my in box. This was not without the help of 1,005 personal introductions completed during my first year on the job by my team members. They simply introduced me to their friends, acquaintances and business associates. I explained my role and organically the word spread.

My team members are the Grand Enterprise Initiatives board of directors, which is composed of five prominent community members. They keep an eye on me and they help me. Then there’s a 22-member Resource Team, with which I meet once a month so that they can help me help our clients. We also work closely with DiAnn Butler in the county’s office of economic development.

Why is it so important that I don’t approach people and tell them they need my help?
First, since I offer a free (and confidential) service, being referred by friends is critical. That’s because most people, and I include myself in this group, just naturally believe that when they are offered a “free” service there must be some strings attached. I almost expect free services, at some point, are going to try and get me to subscribe to a service, buy a book or join a religion.
So being referred by friends is an important referral. People will trust such referrals.
And it is true that what I offer is free. I’m not selling anything and I don’t want my clients’ money. I will work with them as long as they want to work with me. It’s that simple. As a corollary, I don’t have money to grant or loan to my clients. What I provide is my background and access to resources who will help a client build a team so he or she can succeed.
Now, I can help them build a plan so that they can perhaps ask for a loan or a grant. But I’m not a bank. I’m not a foundation. I know of many banks and foundations, however, who will work with my clients. I can help make those connections.

We do not want to be patronizing. We do not want to be paternalistic. We don’t want to be like the classic governmental figure who knocks on your door and says: “Hello, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” That’s not us.

For us it’s more like: “Hello, I’m glad you called. I’m here to help you form a team and connections so you have a good chance to succeed. I’m here to help you help yourself.”

Patrick Brower can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

Posted on February 5th, 2019

Perhaps the biggest misconception of entrepreneurs is that they can do it all.

In their minds they think that’s why they are entrepreneurs.  They won’t have to bother with dealing with other people. They won’t have to rely on employees or consultants. That’s why they don’t have a “job,” they own a business.

In fact, some people want to venture into their own businesses mainly because they don’t want to deal with others. They’ll just sit there in their garages or basements and make their products or provide their on-line services in cocoons, doing what they love without being bothered by mankind.

This is a fatal error that is, in fact, motivated by a well-intentioned value that many of us Americans have been taught. We’ve been taught to believe that we are self-sufficient individuals who have the capability — and the right, even — to do it all on our own. We all feel like we should be that self-reliant rugged individualist who reflects this hackneyed American ideal.

How many times have you heard people say: I’m going to fail or succeed all on my own? Many times, I suspect, and just as many times they’ve failed, all on their own.

The truth is, no one person can possibly do well all the things that are required to make a business succeed. I’ve written about the Trinity of Management and no one person can possibly do a good job at making a great product or service, selling it and marketing it and then managing all the finances that go with such an effort.

It’s not been done.

So, the bad news for all of us rugged individualists is that, in business, at least, we can’t do it all alone. I know this to be true from my days when I ran a business and tried to do it all, thinking I’d save money and that I was better at it that everybody else. Not only did I burn myself out, I also saw that I was doing some things terribly. Yes it got done, but it wasn’t done well.
So, entrepreneurs must recognize what they do well and concentrate on that. Then they must rely on others to do the things they don’t do well.

For example, I’ve yet to meet a good marketing and sales person who is also good at financial management. This entrepreneur might just love to talk up his service, create great ads, do interesting posts on Facebook and generate lots of sales. But this person struggles every week with keeping track of how much he or she sold and whether it was profitable. They think they can do it, even though they detest numbers and ledgers.

Or there’s the “numbers person” who can tell you down to the penny about expenses last month. But if a customer asks a legitimate question about a bill, they become grumpy and treat the customer (the very person who’s paying his or her salary) as if they are a bother. So, it’s not always a good idea to let bookkeepers engage in extensive customer service. These are also the people who, when asked about business expenses, will advise trimming the marketing budget when that’s the very area where a company would need to be spending more, not less.
I don’t mean to pick on bookkeepers or salespeople here. They are extremely valuable. But some people are cut out to be in sales and some are cut out to be on the financial side. Rarely are those people the same people.

My point here is simple. Entrepreneurs need to recognize their strengths and then build teams of people who will help them do well in all the aspects of managing a  business.

No man or woman is an island, especially in the business world.

Patrick Brower can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

Posted on January 29th, 2019

In my initial meetings with 235 entrepreneurs in Grand County I use a unique way to express the basic concepts of business management.

 I call it the Trinity of Management. This trinity, as it were, is a phrase coined and trademarked by Ernesto Sirolli, founder of the Sirolli Institute, where I was trained.

The Trinity of Management is a simplified concept of basic business management that makes it relatively easy to get across the basics of business. It creates a framework in which we can start the work of building a solid new business or expanding an existing business.

There are many ways that have been used throughout the years to get across these basic concepts. Some people teach that there are “quartets” of management or even “twenty basic tenets” of business. I’ve even seen complicated flow charts and diagrams explaining business concepts that would confuse even an organic chemist.

That’s why I like the trinity. It’s easy to understand.

The first leg of the trinity states merely that in order for a business to succeed it must have a superb product or service. These products or services must be at least as good as the entrepreneur can make them. But in the real world where there’s lots of competition, products and services must be the best of the best. Without a superb product or service, a business will not succeed.

The second leg of the trinity is sales and marketing. Perhaps it goes without saying that it doesn’t do an entrepreneur any good to have the best product in the world if nobody knows about it. But the truth is that there are people who in fact probably do have superior products or services to sell but because of poor sales and marketing, they aren’t succeeding. Many entrepreneurs at first dismiss the importance of this aspect of the trinity, saying they don’t need to spend much on advertising or promotion. They feel the products or services will sell themselves.

But believe me, it doesn’t work that way. There must be strong sales and marketing or an enterprise is likely to fail.

The third leg of the trinity is financial management. For many businesses, financial management consists of two aspects that are important — and yet they ignore the third critically important aspect of financial management.

First, bookkeeping must take place so that an entrepreneur can have clear and easy-to-understand profit and loss statements. Without these statements (assuming they reflect reality), a business manager is operating in the dark. They won’t know if they are making money or losing money. They won’t know how much they’ve grossed, how much they’ve lost, what’s selling well and what isn’t, and so on. I can’t overemphasize the importance of accurate and regular profit and loss statements.

Most businesses then also meet with a tax accountant, usually only once a year, to resolve the tax implications of the last year’s business. This is important too.

But the third aspect of financial management that gets overlooked is what I call the forward-looking or “projecting” aspect of the numbers. This can be nothing more than using the “budget” line on bookkeeping software or preparing a realistic cash-flow analysis. The point of these is that they involve looking forward, and planning forward, as well as keeping track of the past (bookkeeping). The truth is that it usually takes money for a business to grow and usually businesses need to plan how to spend that money. Forward budgeting or cash flow projections are the way that can take place in the financial realm.

There it is: The Trinity of Management. This is a great thing to understand, with one condition: No one person can do a good job of executing all those aspects of the trinity.
But that is a topic for another article in the near future.

Patrick Brower can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.