Small Business Resources
The Colorado SBDC Network is the #1 business resource for entrepreneurs in the State of Colorado. View a listing of all SBDC’s in the state of Colorado, learn about SBDC programs and upcoming workshops offered across the state, and view a PDF version of the Colorado Business Resource Guide on the network website.
A State of Colorado website, this site aims to help entrepreneurs looking to start a business find the information they need to form their new entity, while helping existing business owners find the resources they need to run their business.
BusinessUSA is a new site created in 2013 by the federal government to streamline the process of starting a business in America. Click here to easily connect with resources and information that will help you move forward.
The SBA website is a complete small business resource that includes information about SBA loans, programs, assistance options, business planning guides, a number of small business tools, online training, and contact information for business resource centers in your area.
The Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) website provides free online training, small business tips, information about national and local small business resources, as well as a number of online resources for entrepreneurs.
Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) serves as a resource providing timely, relevant research, web-based information, and training to SBDC counselors and their small business clients.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) provides mentoring and workshops for small business owners. The SCORE website provides online training, how-to guides, small business tools, templates, and contact information for their offices nationwide. SCORE is affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Mi Casa provides business start-up assistance to Latinos in the Denver Metro area. Free seminars, multi-week entrepreneurial training, small business counseling, and other services are offered.
Developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, entrepreneurs can visit the online resource center for information about business operations, accounting and finance, marketing and sales, human resources, and more. Small business videos, business events, and an interactive forum for entrepreneurs to ask for and provide advice to fellow small business owners are also available.
Free start-up advice, business templates, step-by-step checklists, and cost-cutting advice.
Training segments, articles and information on management, sales compensation, profit enhancement, marketing, strategic planning, business planning, customer service, sales management, performance reviews, and other related business topics are available on this site.
A nonprofit organization committed to helping people succeed in business, My Own Business offers a free online courses presented by successful business owners who point out the common, avoidable mistakes of starting a business and discuss what you need to do to start a successful small business.
Information about entrepreneurship training, initiatives, research and policy, and innovation. Learn about various small business programs and how the Kauffman Foundation assists our nation’s small businesses.
Get up-to-date information and news on the issues surrounding small businesses, read articles and get advice from the Wall Street Journal’s expert columnists and partners, and utilize the WSJ’s free tools and how-to guides. Among the free tools provided are a start-up calculator, how-to guides on technology, franchising, starting and running a business, hiring and managing employees, and buying or selling a business. Sample business plans and business plan starter guides are also available.
The online edition of Entrepreneur Magazine, this is a complete one-stop-shop for any small business owner. Articles, columns, blogs, and online communities provide entrepreneurs with information on all areas of small business, including starting a business, sales & marketing, business and franchise opportunities, online and home-based businesses, management, human resources, technology, and more.
Inc.com, the website for Inc. magazine, delivers advice, tools, and services, to help business owners and CEOs start, run, and grow their businesses more successfully. You’ll find information and advice covering virtually every business and management task, including marketing, sales, finding capital, managing people, and much, much more.
General Business Start-Up
The Colorado Business Resource Guide is a comprehensive start-up guide created by federal and state business assistance agencies and private sector partners. This guide provides information on business entity and legal structure, setting up your company’s taxes, business planning, marketing, and financing options. Hard copies of the Colorado Business Resource Guide can be obtained at any SBDC office.
Incorporating a Business
*Professional assistance is highly recommended before making a decision about the appropriate legal entity for your business and before the filing of papers for incorporation, limited partnership or a limited liability company.
Step 1: Go to http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/business/main.html
Step 2: Under the Business Organizations tab on the left-hand side, select “File a Document.” On the “File a Document” page, select “File a form to create a NEW record.”
Step 3: Select the appropriate type of legal structure you are looking to file under the “LLCs, Corporations & Trade Names” header.
Step 4: Enter the name you would like to file for the entity, search its availability, and follow the prompts to complete your Articles of Organization.
Trade Name Registration
Registering a Trade Name in Colorado can only be done online at the Secretary of State’s website.
Step 1: Go to http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/business/main.html
Step 2: Under the Business Organizations tab on the left-hand side, select “File a Document.” On the “File a Document” page, select “File a form to create a NEW record.”
Step 3: Select “Trade Name” under the “LLCs, Corporations & Trade Names” header.
Step 4: Select the appropriate type of trade name to file.
Visit the Occupational/Industry License Database through the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade and search by industry to find out what federal, state, and local licenses you are required to have.
Sales and Use Taxes
Businesses that sell products to the end users are required to collect sales tax. The total amount of sales tax to be collected includes 2.9% Colorado state sales tax, plus all applicable city, county, and special district sales taxes. This includes mail order items sold within Colorado. If you have more than one location where sales are made a separate license is required for each location. All licenses must be displayed at a business location and may not be used to obtain personal goods or business assets tax-free.
To determine your local tax rates visit www.taxcolorado.com and click on “Revenue Online,” “Find Local Taxes by Address,” and “Go to Group 1 Software” on the right-hand side. For questions regarding Colorado sales and use taxes, call the Department of Revenue at (303) 238-SERV (7378), or visit the Department of Revenue Division of Taxation website at www.taxcolorado.com.
Sales Tax License
A sales tax license is proof that a business is properly registered with the Colorado Department of Revenue. If your business will be selling, renting or leasing tangible personal property, you must obtain a license from the Colorado Department of Revenue.
To file a Sales Tax License Form, visit the Colorado Department of Revenue website and review license types, the CR100 “Sales Tax/Wage Withholding Account Application,” and pay fees. Licenses must be renewed bi-annually.
The Colorado Department of Revenue offers free classes to help small business owners properly set up taxes for their business. To see a list of upcoming classes and register to attend, visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue/REVX/1176829279136.
Federal Income Tax
For all things taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers an A-Z Index for Businesses to assist entrepreneurs with setting-up, filing, and paying their business taxes.
Visit www.irs.gov/business/small to apply for Employer ID Numbers (EINs), find out the differences in taxing Independent Contractors vs. Employees, download forms and instructions, and get all of your tax questions answered. For more assistance, contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-4933.
Property taxes are assessed on any real and/or personal property used to produce income for a business.
For information on real estate and personal property tax rates, contact the county assessor’s office of the county in which the business is located:
The SBA offers many resources to help you write a business plan. Visit the “Write a Business Plan” page of their website to get business plan outlines, view online workshops, and get answers to many FAQ’s about writing a great business plan.
The Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse provides free online training videos to help entrepreneurs develop a business plan. SBDCNet also allows access to over 500 sample business plans in a number of different industries.
NxLeveL® Education’s mission is to serve as an entrepreneur training network to support and strengthen small businesses and promote economic development. The purpose of the NTN is to develop an unsurpassed nationally recognized small business training program, provide a turn-key nationally branded business training program, and share best practices among network partners, including effective operational, funding and management strategies. NxLeveL® has become the premier entrepreneurial training program in the United States through the development and delivery of curricula designed to teach best practices for small businesses. More than 170,000 entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and small business owners have completed NxLeveL® courses. In addition, there are over 6,000 certified NxLeveL® instructors around the country.
This online system looks to quickly translate business ideas into business plans. This process looks to help business owners identify the most important aspects of their business, then develop a business plan around them. A great resource for helping you create a focused business plan.
Learn about why you should prepare a business plan and what to include/not include in it, get help with formatting, learn about the “Six Steps to a Great Business Plan” and make sure your business plan includes a number of necessary factors.
View sample business and marketing plans, get business plan software and templates, watch planning videos, and get help with crafting an elevator pitch from your plan.
Download free business plan templates for start-up businesses, established businesses, and nonprofits, as well as competitive analysis and board of advisors templates. Templates are also available to assist you with outlining start-up expenses, balance sheet figures, cash flow projections, sales & financial forecasting, a breakeven analysis, and loan amortization schedules.
Google and the U.S. Small Business Administration have partnered to educate local businesses about how to succeed online. Each video describes how a small business owner successfully uses the internet to grow his or her business.
The SBA has created a database of marketing and advertising tools for small business owners. Gain a basic understanding of marketing, identifying and reaching your target market, and face-to-face marketing through customer service and tradeshows.
Free marketing plan outlines and samples, marketing and branding tips, pricing rules, and information about advertising laws.
Databases such as ReferenceUSA and Business Decision provide detailed market research data to help you determine pricing, target markets, and industry trends. Access to these databases is often free to public library patrons. Each library district also provides assistance and training on using these programs to get the information you need. For more information on these databases and how your local librarians can help you get started, please contact your local library branch. The Douglas and Arapahoe County library districts employ SBDC-certified librarians who provide free one-on-one library training.
For Douglas County:
Highlands Ranch Library
9292 Ridgeline Boulevard
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
(S. Broadway & W. Highlands Ranch Parkway)
Phone: (720) 348-9502
*Colbe is able to meet with clients at the Douglas County Library branch closest to their location.
5955 S. Holly Street
Centennial, CO 80121
Phone: (303) 542-7279 ext. 12106
Employers are responsible for withholding both State and Federal Income Tax and Social Security/Medicare taxes from their employees’ wages. Employers also pay an equal share of the Social Security/Medicare taxes.
To open a state wage withholding account, complete form CR0100. To obtain form CR0100, go to the Wage Withholding Tax Forms page of the Colorado Department of Revenue website.
To open a federal wage withholding account, complete federal form SS-4 application for your employer identification number (EIN). The FEIN is used to set up your federal income tax withholding and social security withholding through the IRS. Click here to file for an EIN.
Employers are also required to pay both state and federal unemployment insurance taxes on their employees. To open a federal unemployment insurance tax account, complete form SS-4. To open a state unemployment insurance tax account, complete form CR100. Register with MyUI Employer to gain 24/7 access to your employer account including tracking of wage and premium reports, account access, and FAQ’s.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
As an employer, you are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance for all of your employees. You can obtain workers’ compensation insurance from an independent insurance agent or contact:
7501 E. Lowry Blvd.
Denver, Colorado 80230
*Pinnacol is not a state agency but operates as a quasi independent nonprofit insurance company established by state law to sell workers’ compensation insurance.
For information regarding employer responsibilities under workers’ compensation, contact:
Division of Workers’ Compensation
Colorado Department of Labor
633 17th Street, Suite 400
Denver, CO 80202
Occupational Privilege Tax
Employers who have employees working within the city limits of Aurora, Denver, or Greenwood Village are required to pay an occupational privilege tax (head tax) on each individual employed.
To obtain the appropriate form for setting up an account, contact the appropriate city department:
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA)
To ensure you are compliant with all OSHA regulations, visit their website at http://www.osha.gov/about.html or contact their regional office in Denver at 720-264-6550.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Compliance with the ADA requires employers to provide equal opportunity for employment to all qualified disabled individuals who can perform the duties of the job and may require them to make reasonable accommodations for these individuals. For further information on the ADA Act, contact:
ADA Technical Assistance Center
Employers are required to comply with the I-9 documentation to avoid penalties for the hiring of illegal aliens. To obtain Form I-9, visit the forms page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, or call 1-800-767-1833.
State Labor Laws
For state labor law information, including minimum wage, overtime, vacation, child labor, breaks & termination, contact:
Colorado Department of Labor & Employment
Division of Labor
633 17th Street, Suite 200
Federal Labor Laws
For federal labor law information, contact:
United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
Phone: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365) http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/lawsprog.htm
Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights
For general information regarding protecting your ideas, innovations, and products, visit the Inventing & Innovation page of the SBDCNet website. Many free resources are available to help you understand the process of applying for these protections, including free online courses.
You can also visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov to search national databases, file applications online, view fee schedules, and more.
Additional sources to search are the Colorado Secretary of State website and Internet Search Engines. Comprehensive searches via Thomson & Thomson are available through law firms.
To register for a copyright, visit the United States Copyright Office online. This website also provides information about the basics of copyrighting, current fees, database searches of copyright records, law and policy.
If your trademark is used in Colorado, the trademark needs to be registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. Registration can be done through the S.O.S. website at http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/FileDoc.do.
If your trademark is used in more than one state, it is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registration can be done online at www.uspto.gov.
Inventors Information and Education
The Rocky Mountain Inventors Association (RMIA) is a non-profit organization that offers seminars and workshops in all phases of the inventing process. Contact the RMIC at 303-831-4133 or at www.rminventor.org for more information.
Many local area banks work with entrepreneurs to secure the capital needed to grow or start their small businesses. SBA Loans are available through many lending organizations.
Contact these local lenders to inquire about working with their organizations:
- Colorado Business Bank (Littleton Branch): 303-292-1555, http://www.cobizbank.com
- Colorado Lending Source: 303-657-0010, http://www.coloradolendingsource.org
- Key Bank (Belleview Promenade): 303-804-2667, http://www.keybank.com
- Capital Lending Solutions: 720-748-1570, http://www.capitallendingsolutions.com
Micro-Loan Programs (Non-Bank Funding)
Micro-Loan Programs provide small, short-term loans through specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance; these intermediaries make loans to eligible borrowers. The maximum loan amount is $35,000; the average loan is about $13,000.
Local Micro-Loan intermediaries include:
- Colorado Enterprise Fund: 303-860-0242, http://www.coloradoenterprisefund.org
- Accion: 303-904-9362, http://www.accionnm.org
- Seedco (for businesses in the City of Denver only): 303-297-7384, http://www.seedcofinancial.org
- Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute: 720-941-5037, http://www.rmmfi.org
There are no grants available to start or run small businesses. Grants are available for scientific/research endeavors only. For more information about grants, visit the following websites:
- U.S. Small Business Administration:
- General Financing Information: http://www.sba.gov/financialassistance/
- SBIR/STTR Programs: http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbir/index.html
- SBDCNet: http://www.sbdcnet.org/finance.html
- Grant Station: http://www.grantstation.com
Government Procurement / Contracting
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers detailed information about government contracting and how to get involved on their website at http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/gc/index.html or http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/gcbd/index.html.
For assistance in preparing to begin bidding on contract opportunities, you can request an appointment with the SBDC to meet with our government procurement specialist, or contact the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (CPTAC) at 719-434-3470.
Disadvantaged Business Certification
Certification allows minority and women owned disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) to participate in City and County of Denver public works projects and federally assisted airport projects.
For information regarding minority business resources, types of certification, and more, go to the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade Minority Business Office website.
If you are interested in pursuing contracts with the City and County of Denver, visit the Do Business with the City page of their website. The CDOT Business Center also has information about applying for and contracting as a DBE.
Minor & Brown PC has a number of White Papers available for free download on their website. Each White Paper is a guide or report to walk you through certain legal scenarios or questions. Issues covered for small business include Buy-Sell Agreements, Trademarks and Service Marks, Hiring Information and more.
The elaws Advisors are interactive e-tools that provide easy-to-understand information about a number of federal employment laws. Each Advisor simulates the interaction you might have with an employment law expert. It asks questions and provides answers based on responses given.
An online law resource created by two legal aid lawyers, Nolo.com offers books, software, legal forms, and an online lawyer directory to help you find answers to your everyday legal and business questions.
Frannet provides assistance with researching and choosing a franchise, general information about the franchising process, and franchising events in your area.
FranFit provides free consultations and business development, and specializes in matching prospective business owners with franchise companies.
Veterans Small Business Assistance
The SBA Office of Veterans Business Development provides information about financing options, training, programs, and assistance options available only to our nation’s veterans.
The Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, and Montana SBDC Networks have teamed-up to provide veterans in these respective states with starting, growing, expanding, and increasing productivity in their businesses. A veterans database, free workshops and online training videos, links to federal veterans websites, and more are available on this website.
ASBDC provides links to various websites providing veteran-specific information and assistance in starting or running a small business.
CNDC offers nonprofit support services, including accounting assistance and fiscal sponsors, to help you utilize your money and resources as efficiently as possible.
The CRC offers training and consulting to help you get your nonprofit started. Website offerings also include information about statewide projects, a grants guide, and information about nonprofit formation.
Provides assistance and support to nonprofit organizations throughout Colorado.
Hosts training events across the country for starting or running a nonprofit, as well as mentoring and consulting to assist you through the process.
Online training and tutorials on grantseeking, starting and operating a nonprofit organization.
This guide will help you file formation documents, get tax identification numbers and exemptions, and obtain authority to solicit donations.
A collaborative project of public, private and nonprofit lending institutions, SmallBizLending.org was created to provide entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Colorado with the information and resources to successfully apply for a business loan, access a line of credit, pursue micro-lending solutions or find other financing options.
BizStats is the leading free online source for small business statistics. BizStats collects, analyzes, edits and adds value to public data and delivers it without cost in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand format.