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Growing into the New Year
by Megan Jewell
It’s a new year, and small businesses everywhere are assessing how they did last year, determining challenges and setting goals for growth in 2016. The SBA 504 Loan Program can assist small business owners in four key ways for growth:
- Invest in Real Estate and Capital Equipment:
Small businesses are able to invest in real estate and capital equipment while safeguarding their working capital.
- Low Down Payment
Small business are able to take advantage of low down payments, freeing up more working capital
- Fixed Rate
A fixed rate that doesn’t balloon or adjust helps the small business to prepare for the future without the uncertainty of changing payments.
- Staple in Community
Having a space to call their own whether it is an entire building or just an office condo stabilizes a business and helps it put roots down in their community.
Being members of the community ourselves, we are dedicated to helping small businesses. In 2016 Preferred Lending Partners wants to do more to help small businesses and our borrowers grow and flourish.
“It’s our job to enable and keep the small businesses in Colorado permanent fixtures in the community that we live and play in. If they don’t exist, we don’t exist” states Juliene Wynn, Preferred Lending Partners’ Credit Analyst.
We currently assist our borrowers through the SBA loan process and with servicing actions after the loan has funded. We provide webinars and training for our partner lenders, along with links and articles to industry resources. However, there’s so much more we could and would like to do for the small business of Colorado.
What would help you as a small business owner? What more could we do to be better advocates for you and your business?
Denver Upholstery was founded by Steve Volz. Steve got into the business at an early age. He stated out at a shop, resting space for $100 a week to work on projects and learn the trade. The owner of the space gave him a key so that he could “fool around at night” working on side projects, learning different techniques, which he would receive guidance and critiques on by mentors in the shop. It was a great opportunity.
When Steve was 12 he started working. He always envisioned himself owning his own business. At first he thought he would make millions, and it would be so easy. He quickly realized that to be a successful business owner, you have to be prepared to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It’s a full time commitment.
It is because of his dedication to his business that Steve and his wife Megan were able to purchase the building in Dec. 2013. Steve has always worked hard, often 18 hours a day, to make money to reinvest into the company to avoid having substantial debt and overhead expenses. With little debt history for the business Steve and Megan originally struggled to find financing for their building. They first tried to use their original bank relationship but their bank wouldn’t work with them, because although they had cash in the bank and knew what they were doing, they hadn’t been in business long enough on paper to make the bank feel comfortable. Then they found once he found Preferred Lending Partners and Champion Bank and the process became very smooth. Steve admitted that it was “easier than buying our house”.
Now in their own building Steve acknowledges that there are ups and downs. The maintenance is a pain, and it can be difficult to meet all the city expectations and requirements and even though owning your own building comes with a cost, if can reinvest your money back into the business and double up payments to pay off the loans it is all worth it. This is Steve’s retirements plan. The property values continue to improve, especially in Denver, and he fully expects to get his investment back.
His advice to other business owners in the Colorado, work your butt off. “Denver is where it is at right now, you can open a store front and be busy.”
At an early age, Anthony Lambatos was encouraged and given opportunities to nurture his entrepreneur spirit. Guided by his father Jimmy, founder of Footers Catering, Anthony learned the ins and outs of running a business and managing money. Jimmy gave Anthony and his sister opportunities to assist with the family business when they were very young. In high school Anthony ran his own concession stand as a spin-off of his father’s business. With little risk to business, Jimmy set up a 30 day contract where his children who became responsible for all the purchasing, hiring and staffing, scheduling, paying the team, ordering the food, buying the food, selling the food and balancing the register. This experience really got Anthony excited about running a business.
In 2010 Anthony and wife, April Lambatos purchased Footers Catering from Jimmy. Anthony admits that transitioning a business from one generation to another was extremely difficult. As he puts it, “it is tough to turn that ship towards a new direction”. However, he feels very lucky to be able to beat the odds and be a successful second generation family owned business.
Anthony has the following advice for future entrepreneurs:
- Solicit informational interviews and advice from people that have been there before.
Often the younger generation feels that they “know it all”, and Anthony admits that he was in that category for a certain amount of time, and now understands the value of taking a step back and learning from others on what has been done before. Then after such reflection, putting your own spin on the business is what will make you a more effective entrepreneur.
- Surround yourself with great people.
If you hire and surround yourself with great people it makes coming to work more fun. This will give you a much better opportunity for success. When Anthony was running the concession stand he was able to hire his friends which made the work fun, teaching him that, “work didn’t have to suck”. This led to the first line of the Footer’s mission statement. “Love What We Do”.
- Be prepared to work really hard.
Often the vision of owning your own business looks so fun and glamorous, you get to make all the decisions be in charge. This also means you as the owner, carry all of the responsibilities on your shoulders. If something happens in the middle of the night you’re the one that will be getting up to figure it out.
Footers Catering has been highly successful, named Small Business of the year by the South Metro Chamber and Best Caterer in Denver by Colorado Meetings and Events in 2012. They also won Weddingwire Couples Choice Awards in 2015. Anthony contributes the key to their growth in finding great people to work with; from his amazing partner and wife, April Lambatos (COO), who compliments Anthony’s skill set and manages operations in a way he never could; to working alongside some amazing people that have helped Footers to be successful and are as committed to growing Footers as Anthony is. Anthony never envisioned he would be able to obtain 20 year fixed rate financing, with only 10% down, while having the flexibility of owning his own facility.