Free faculty-led workshops through CSU’s College of Business aim to prevent local business closures

No-cost workshops and additional resources supported by $200k Larimer County grant



Small businesses play a key role in supporting our local economies, employing 1.1 million workers in Colorado, nearly 50% of the workforce. But with COVID-19 stretching companies thin, their survival is increasingly on the line. Research indicates that three-quarters of businesses don’t have enough cash on hand to cover two months of expenses, a reserve that’s being put to the test as many small businesses revenue has cratered during the pandemic.

To help local business owners and operators navigate this altered landscape and avoid permanent closure, CSU’s College of Business is launching Pivot Larimer County, a suite of free, faculty-led, workshops and video resources made possible by a $200,000 grant from Larimer County. The County received funding to provide this grant, as well as other programs to support the community, through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“The day-to-day effort to run a successful business is challenging as it is, without the uncertainty we have seen recently.”

– Rob Mitchell, Associate Professor, Management


A female business owner stands at the door to her shop

Although the full impact of the pandemic remains unknown, what is clear is that businesses are facing a complex set of immediate problems and long-term market shifts.

Pivot Larimer Country will provide local business leaders with the skills to be resilient and navigate whatever changes may be on the horizon. This will increase the odds that they’ll not only be able to make it through to the other side of the crisis and continue contributing to the local economy, but that they’ll emerge with new strategies to support their sustained success.

“The day-to-day effort to run a successful business is challenging as it is, without the uncertainty we have seen recently,” said Rob Mitchell, an associate professor of management in the College of Business who is helping teach the Pivot Jumpstart workshop. “And while 2020 has brought unprecedented change, the need to adapt to change is not new in business—but such an ability to adapt is especially helpful in the face of all of this.”

By completing the in-depth, four-part workshop series, business owners and managers will develop a greater understanding of their customers, how to create value, explore new revenue streams, re-position their business based on market conditions, and how to make a successful exit.

Arthur Sintas portrait
Arthur Sintas, Community Impact Manager, CSU College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship

“Supporting our local business owners and entrepreneurs creates a rich ecosystem for all organizations to thrive, especially during difficult times,” said Arthur Sintas, the community impact manager for the CSU College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship, which is facilitating Pivot Larimer County.

“We hope those who participate in Pivot Larimer County will begin to build lasting relationships with CSU and take advantage of all of the free services our Institute provides as we work to eliminate the barriers people can face pursuing entrepreneurship,” Sintas said.

The College of Business can support up to 200 Larimer County businesses through the live Pivot Jumpstart workshops, with the first month-long cohort kicking off on November 20 and the following three cohorts continuing into the spring. An online experience will also be developed to allow additional businesses to complete the workshop virtually and at their own pace.

The workshops will connect CSU College of Business faculty, industry experts, and local business leaders together in the classroom through a blend of socially distant, in-person programming and live video collaboration.

Pivot Jumpstart Faculty

Rob Mitchell

Associate Professor, Management

Rob Mitchell Portrait

Rob Mitchell, Ph.D., is an associate professor of management at Colorado State University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on entrepreneurship, growth, innovation and strategy, and is also an adjunct research professor at the Ivey School of Business, in London, Ontario. Rob’s research has been published in top academic journals and its practical relevance has been highlighted in news publications such as the Financial Times.  In addition to his university teaching, Rob has led executive education programs in multiple countries and a variety of industries (from banking to power generation and transmission to ITC and telecom to retail). Before pursuing his Ph.D. at Indiana University, Rob was a member of the founding teams of a technology startup in Salt Lake City, Utah and was involved in emerging enterprise consulting in Victoria, British Columbia.

Full bio

What is the value of being able to continually adapt as a business owner/operator? 
Business owners, managers and operators have long needed to adapt to a changing market and changing technology. The businesses that are more likely to be successful in the long-run are those that can understand the changing nature of the environment and can respond to that environment by developing their own capabilities to meet the changes in the environment. The development of a capability to adapt and pivot in the face of change is valuable any time; but having such a mindset is particularly beneficial in the face of a crisis.

How do you see the workshop being valuable?

The most important aspect of the program will be the application of the learnings by participants. In the program, they will engage with one another to further develop their own innovative mindset that can enable adaptation in the face of a changing environment. Participants will take initial steps to jumpstart their own pivots to address such change and continue to create value for themselves and our community.

Kipp Krukowski

Clinical Professor, Management

Kipp Krukowski Portrait

Kipp A. Krukowski, Ph.D., is a clinical professor of management at CSU’s College of Business and teaches Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation. He founded and successfully exited several businesses including a nationwide valuation firm which helped attorneys, lenders, and business owners make informed decisions related to valuation as well as a business advisory/brokerage firm focusing on small business M&A transactions which positioned clients for eventual exits. He has also served as an expert witness for multiple litigation cases involving Fortune 500 companies. Kipp earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Youngstown State University, MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.

Full bio

What is the value of being able to continually adapt as a business owner/operator? 
All businesses operate in dynamic environments and successful entrepreneurs continually evaluate their product and service offerings as well as seek to optimize their processes to adapt to the changing market forces. A crisis may lead to the needed wake-up call for entrepreneurs to reflect on their business focus and direction. While their intentions may be to operate the business for years into the future, entrepreneurs should always build their businesses with their exit in mind. Strategic planning and implementation allows business owners to maximize value and allow them to control the exit process on their desired schedule.

How do you see the workshop being valuable?

The Pivot Jumpstart program will enlighten attendees with real world case studies of successful pivots while providing them with a toolset to apply pivoting concepts to their own businesses. Owners of all business sizes will graduate from the program with a knowledge base to implement strategies that will help them unleash potential and create value.

In addition to the grant from Larimer County, the CSU College of Businesses efforts are supported by partnerships with the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County Small Business Development Center, The Warehouse Business Accelerator, and Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce.

Those who take part in the Pivot Larimer County workshops will also be eligible to receive scholarships to enroll in two-day College of Business Executive Education courses covering topics like professional selling, marketing and data analytics, disruptive technology and more.

Visit the Pivot Larimer County website to access free video resources and register for the workshop series.