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Colorado Springs business takes to the cloud to help other businesses thrive

By: Katherine Blunt katherine.blunt@gazette.com
July 17, 2014 Updated: July 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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Businesses in the Colorado Springs area and beyond now have a new set of tools to foster their growth and development.

The Center for Business Modeling, a Springs-based online resource for small- to mid-sized businesses, will soon offer cloud-based software applications for business planning. Formed about six months ago, the company debuted its site and a number of free planning guides Monday.

CBM will premiere its first application - a sales planning resource - next month, said Michael Smyth, CBM's COO. He said the company plans to roll out 10 applications over the next two to three years to assist in every stage of business development.

"For the initial offering of the sales planning application, we see a total addressable market of 9.5 million people (nationwide)," he said. "As we expand our applications, that number should grow."

The cost of the subscription-based software will start at $200 per year and increase with the number of available applications. Smyth said CBM will eventually offer subscription packages to suit different needs.

The applications will help business owners and executives develop plans to grow revenue and sales and assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

"We will include industry standards so (businesses) can compare themselves against others," Smyth said.

CBM's tools are designed to be simpler and more affordable than those of other online resources, making them more accessible to small businesses. Many business planning software products are too complex for small business owners, Smyth said, especially those that create models based on large amounts of data and spreadsheets. CBM's software concept is similar to that of TurboTax: a program that guides users toward their end goal using simply formatted surveys.

"We err on the side of planning quickly and efficiently and stay away from complexity on the user side," said Christopher Ryan, executive chairman for CBM and president of Springs-based Fusion Marketing Partners.

CBM is headed by a five-person team with experience in small business, software and marketing. It expects to hire more employees as it rolls out its products, Smyth said.

Aikta Marcoulier, director of the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, said there's a market for the type of software that CBM is developing. SBDC often refers clients to online resources that complement its in-person consulting services.

"Small business owners are busy trying to manage everything in life, and running a business is a 24/7 job," she said. "Having online tools that jumpstart development is important."

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