Friday, February 18, 2011

I just posted this on Craig's List:

SBCC's Denver IDEA Cafe Meetup Group

Since 1994, we help people who are starting down a new path with a new project or campaign, a new career or new business.

Each week we invite people to share their career, business, and political startup experience and we brainstorm. We've heard from people such as: Dan Brogan, 5280 Magazine; Jared Polis, entrepreneur and U.S. Representative; Kenton Kuhn, Black-tie; Paul Lewan, Lewan & Associates; John Youngquist, Princ...

SBCC's IDEA Cafe Startup Workshop

Friday, February 18, 2011 at 2:00PM

Since 1994, we help people turn their inspiration into effective action.

Now we are part of the Small Business Chamber of Commerce (to become an invitation to our monthly "Big Event", free to exhibitors and free to those who attend, see our SBCC site or our

Anyone who is starting a new direction, starting a new career, new project or campaign, or starting a new business is invited to join us.

How do we help? We share startup experience and we do brainstorming.

Right after this meeting, if you are interested we give you information about how to start a mastermind group with your friends or to find a group that's already starting that would be helpful to you at our Community Room College, see

If we are successful, you will be too busy to come back to the Denver IDEA Cafe n...

See the full event details, including location, at

Check out what members are saying about SBCC's Denver IDEA Cafe Meetup Group:

"I would recommend to anyone is considering a startup and desires input/brainstorming in a group setting. Just come with a concise question related to your business that you want addressed." - William Sturm

"I want to help it grow" - Richard Oppenheim

"America is made up of primarily small business so forums like these IDEA Cafes are essential to our sound economic future of the USA." - Patrick B Dolan

"Great group, interesting speakers." - Mark D. Trenner

"First time attendee, but I like the concept of like minded people sharing experiences." - Russ Randall
•Location: Capitol Hill or South Denver

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ari Armstrong recently attended a Denver IDEA Cafe, and he produced this video of me talking with him about your new, free Small Business Chamber of Commerce:

Here's an interesting exchange of Facebook messages yesterday with John Brackney, my Facebook friend and President of South Metro Chamber of Commerce. I've met with John before in his office, and he spoke at the Denver IDEA Cafe and the Denver Startup Forum.

John S Wren February 16 at 7:36am

I'm on the 1090AM radio show Business for Breakfast (see link) this morning at 9:35 a.m., I'm going to talk about the Denver IDEA Cafe, Franklin Circles, and our effort to encourage local chambers across the state and beyond to start similar activities as an alternative to SBDC's (the SBA promoted Small Business Development Centers.)

John Brackney February 16 at 7:49am Reply• Report

John, What do you mean by "encourage local chambers across the state and beyond to start similar activities as an alternative to SBDC's (the SBA promoted Small Business Development Centers.)"? I'm not opposed to the activities that you are doing - are you sure you mean alternative to SBDC's? Please advise as I have concerns... .

John S Wren February 16 at 8:02am John, I'm not the only one talking about the fact that an alternative to the SBDC's is necessary. As you and I have discussed, Dr. Amar Bhide has research this extensively, the publisher of Inc Magazine has said Bhide's The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses is the most important book written about startup, in it he demonstates that the venture capital approach to startup, formal market research and formal strategic planning, just isn't the way more than a handful of the million or so new businesses that start each year actually get underway. As you said at the startup forum a few months back, what do you need to create a business? A customer! :) Hope your able to listen to the show today, or even better, join us for the Franklin Circle Alpha Group tomorrow, is that a possiblity? .

John S Wren February 16 at 8:03am Not saying either/or, but both/and. There is more than one way to skin a cat. :) .

John Brackney February 16 at 8:14am Reply• Report

May just be semantics but "alternative" in the context of your writing implies a better choice or that there is something wrong with SBDC's. If you mean "both/and" I'd suggest that you not make the comparison or use another word like "in addition" or simply not bring up the comparision. Thanks for the invite, can't make it but I'm always happy to speak with you John... .

John S Wren February 16 at 8:21am John, from what you and I have discussed about your SBDC, and from what I know about you, your SBDC doesn't follow lockstep with what the SBA prescribed methods. So in the case of the South Metro Chamber the IDEA Cafe/ Franklin Circle compliments what you are already doing. My hope is that what we are doing will encourage more local chambers to follow your lead. If market research and formal planning worked as well as the Small Business Administration seems to think it does, we'd have a planned economy, not a market economy. So looking at all local chambers in Colorado and beyond, what we are doing is a true alternative to those SBDCs that aren't following South Metros lead, what you are doing with yours that gets away from the SBA prescription. Does that make sense? Thanks for helping me get ready for the radio interview. :) My intention is to be helpful to local chambers like yours, help potential members to understand the differences beyond geography. .

John Brackney February 16 at 8:29am Reply• Report

I think I understand your thought process John... sorry I don't have time to respond now as I'm late for a meeting. Talk again soon...
Are you starting in a new direction with your career? Starting a new project or campaign? Starting a new business?
Tomorrow at 2 p.m. the SBCC's (Small Business Chamber of Commerce's) Denver and South Denver sessions for the IDEA Cafe meets, and at 4 p.m. the SBCC's Community Room College will have another free session for people who are interested in starting or joining a Franklin Circle, more info and optional RSVP at
I just read Scott Belsky's new book Making Ideas Happen-- Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality. He supports being in a Franklin Circle type group, "Circles are relevant and hugely beneficial for all leaders with ideas." 
If you'd like help starting or joining a Franklin Circle, join us tomorrow for an IDEA Cafe and/or the Community Room College session. Can't make it tomorrow? Contact me and I'll help you directly, (303)861-1447 or
Let's get started!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm joining Wally and Tom on Business for Breakfast, Denver 1060AM, Wednesday, February 16 at 9:35 a.m., to listen online, click link on

We'll be talking about the plan to encourage local chambers of commerce across Colorado and beyond to offer IDEA Cafes and Franklin Circles as an alternative to the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) promoted by most of them now.

What's happening with the new Startup America?  Forbes writer Maurine Farrell wonders if it's really just a bailout for venture funds. I'd like the program to take a hard look at the Small Business Administration, especially it's SCORE program.

Starting in a new directions? Have a friend who is? This Friday we'll have two IDEA Cafes here in Denver, info about both of them and optional RSVPs on

Life's short, let's get started. But for right now, the night is late, let's get some sleep. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's not over until it is over. :)

Twitter on! We'll continue to experiement with brainstorming on Twitter after the encouragement of the Denver IDEA Cafe this afternoon.

Weekend brainstorming question: Favorite websites? See #IWWCWwebsites

Hope you have a great weekend!
Twitter brainstorming experiment is over. I think.

I'm going to take down the "How to brainstorm on Twitter" note on next week. If ANY enthusiasm surfaces for the idea, I'll be glad to give it a bit more time.

Brainstorming is a powerful technique face-to-face. If you've had ANY luck brainstorming online, I'd like to hear about it. Post a comment here or email me at

For now, we'll go back to using the Twitter @IDEACafe site just to promote our Small Business Chamber of Commerce IDEA Cafe meetings.

Good speaker this afternoon at the Denver IDEA Cafe, 20+ have told me they are coming, or might be, on Facebook, but virtually NO rsvps on meetup site to reserve a seat at the brainstorming table. Not sure what that means.

Great meeting of the Franklin Circle Alpha Group yesterday at noon. New meeting location next week. We still need a couple of more people. If you might like to join, or if you want to start your own mastermind or peer advisory group, join us this afternoon for "How to start your own Franklin Circle, and why you should." No RSVP required, we'll be at Panera, 13th & Grant here in Denver right after the IDEA Cafe.

Thanks to the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Villager, Life on Capitol Hill, Westword, Denver Business Journal, and all those on Facebook who have helped people who've lost a job or had a bright idea know about what we are doing!

How may I be of service to you?


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Twitter posts again this morning. This should start working, I'm going to keep it up for at least a few more days. Post your favorite business book in response to today's IWWCW "In What Ways Can We" questions: IWWCWbooks. See

I'm sending out email later today. We have GREAT speaker at Denver IDEA Cafe this week, did you see the mention of our meeting in the Denver Post Tech Calendar yesterday in the print edition? RSVP now to make sure you have a seat at the brainstorming table (1st 12 to RSVP, others sit in the Peanut Gallery.)

Snowed in, good day to clear my desk and get caught up. Good day for you and I to talk on the phone, call me at (303)861-1447. How may I be of service to you?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Jury duty today. I'm testing brainstorming on Twitter each day, take a look and tell me what you think of what we are doing, OK? See "How to brainstorm on Twitter" Note on or go directly to the brainstorming site at

Your feedback on this would be very helpful. Of course brainstorming is just one tool in the creative process, but it can be a powerful boost to us when we are stuck.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

There is lots of news coming out now about the new Start America program to try and help more new businesses to get started, something I've devoted my life to for the past 17+ years.

The Los Angeles Times thinks Startup America is the wrong approach, and say so in this editorial today (click here.) At the bottom of the editorial you can read this comment from me:

Here's a suggestion for the Startup America program, take a hard look at what the Small Business Administration and it's SCORE program are really doing to small business in America.

It has been well documented that the venture capital approach to startup (big idea, formal market research and strategic planning, using other people's money) is just not the way most businesses get off the ground. If it was, we'd have a planned economy and not a market economy. See Amar Bhide's The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson's Rework, Martin Ruef's The Entrepreneurial Group.

Look at small business today and small business in 1954 with the SBA was launched. What has the SBA done to small business? It has just about killed it.

(Why MBA+? Full disclosure. I say I'm a recovering MBA. Much of what I learned in graduate business school I've had to overcome to be truely helpful to people starting a business from $0, as I've done over the past 17+ years. See

John S Wren, MBA+
Founder, the new, free Small Business Chamber of Commerce,Chamber

Right now the Small Business Chamber is operating as a one-man band, so I felt comfortable signing the above as Founder. Soon we will need to form a board of directors, adopt politicies, and then, when I sign things like this I'll have to conform to the wishes of the board and the membership. Right now there is really not anyone to fire me, but of course if I do anything too far out of bounds members will start resigning. If you want to resign or if you want to invite your Facebook friends to join us, go to
We are trying to figure out a good way to do online brainstorming. It seemed to me Twitter would work, but our first session was a disaster, as you can see if you check our posts from yesterday on
So a new Brainstorming Facebook Page for the Small Business Chamber, you don't have to be a member to play, so give it a try. You can post a brainstorming question under the "Discussions" tab as a new topic, or contribute your ideas to topics that have already been posted. One of the questions: Is there a better way to do brainstorming online. :) Take a look at
We've got a great speaker this Friday (Feb 4) at the Denver IDEA Cafe, see who she is at, and RSVP there if you want to make sure you are one twelve who sits at the brainstorming table with me and the speaker. Or you can let us know you're coming on the events Facebook page (click here), we've already got over 20 people who say they might be with us to observe the brainstorming from the peanut gallery. Should be a great meeting, will be better if you are with us, so one way or another take a minute now and let me know whether to look for you, OK?
At 4:30 p.m. Friday (Feb 4), following the IDEA Cafe, join me for the free SBCC Community Room College's "How you can start a Franklin Circle and why you should." This is a great way to become part of a peer advisory or mastermind group. RSVP to make sure you have a seat at or on the event announcement on Facebook (click here).
Or how about lunch tomorrow (Feb 3) at Perkins to talk about the same thing? A few of us will be getting together, for details and to RSVP see what I've just posted as a Facebook Event (click here).
"We find that observed (initial, 1st 150 to 550 days) survival rates were much higher for mom-and-pop ventures than for business startups based on other kinds of social relationships."
Martin Ruef, The Entrepreneurial Group