3 Existential Realities of Moving Business to Colorado

Posted on July 9, 2018 by Dave. Tagged:

By Dave Bacon - Founder/CEO At BWBacon Group

I remember a brisk Colorado morning in the Spring of 2014. I could smell a faint skunky odor in the distance. As I got into my truck, three guys rode by on their bikes in t-shirts; I could tell they were co-businessmen on their way to work. The snowfall from yesterday had almost completely melted, these are my favorite days in Colorado - right after the snow - and so I rolled down my windows to take in the breeze.

As I drove over the hill (in Denver, that’s more like a burm swell) I noticed several cranes along the cityscape that stuck out like sore thumbs along the picturesque mountain backdrop. I don’t know if I had been turning a blind eye, but to me, that was the moment Colorado ceased to be the “old” Colorado and began to become the “new” Colorado. As the green rush began, coastal millennials clearly were migrating inward toward the mile high city in droves.

“Is this the end of an era?” I thought to myself.  “How do I fit in this?”...

Cranes over Denver skyline

I’m not a native, but I’ve been here over 20 years, and so I was resistant at first -  telling everyone all the reasons NOT to move to Denver. We meant it and we still do. We are vastly protective of our environment, share mountain mindsets, and a reputation for health and well-being. With great change comes great opportunity, though, and it wasn’t the end of our world as we knew it.

It turns out millennials are awesome at tech, among other things. Our startup community (#denverstartupweek) began jumping and our already-large young professional population was on the rise. The economy continued to take off and although housing prices were on the rise as more people decided to move to Colorado, the market remained affordable for those used to the West Coast standard of living. A large group of young business people were free to set up shop as they saw fit, and despite our fears, they embraced many of our ideals rather than squashing them. Our economy began to thrive, and that stole the hearts of even more talented business owners who followed suit.

Now it is 2018. Denver has expanded in all directions, and big businesses, not just startups, are eyeing Colorado for its plentiful workforce of young, eager developers, designers, and engineers. Doing business in Colorado is good for both PR and employee well-being. It’s consistently named for being a top place to live and work. It is undeniable that we are one of, if not the next major tech hub in America.

“Great!” you say. “Then I’m ready to close up shop in Silicon Valley and move to the Silicon Mountains of Colorado.”

To you, I say welcome - but before you book the moving truck, I say ‘not so fast’...  you must know what you are getting yourself into. Most truly successful companies who have made the jump had to go through an incubation period. If you expect to parachute your way into our communities to accommodate your own way of living, you will be pushed out so fast your head will spin.

Business works differently here, and your existence as a company has to change for you to be able to assimilate. Here are the three things you must understand as you move up the mountain ladder:

Colorado is NOT Silicon Valley. Life is slower, the balance between tech and nature is essential, and respect for body and mind are expected in your business model. Mug that reads "Colorado Dreaming"

Denver is Extreme 

We are extremely talented, extremely sporty, but extremely DIFFERENT. Your business should look for opportunities to take advantage of powder days, embrace the adrenaline rush, and capture the sense of adventure that drives young professionals here to produce. Workers who move to Denver are idealists. They get inspired by the opportunity to radicalize their industry. Stifle this drive and your company will plummet like a newbie skier on a black diamond.

It doesn’t matter if it is 85º and sunny or 10º below zero, company field trips to the wild outdoors will enhance and secure your company culture. Although most tech business is done completely on a computer, unplugging and allowing the inner child to be fed is a part of what we do here.

When you live on the edge - in extreme sports or extreme business - your worldview changes. You become comfortable with taking risks, you yearn for the natural high of trying something crazy (but that feels right), and you begin to think about whether in the end, it’ll all be worth it. This may seem like a young and dumb attitude to take, but it is truly the secret to success here.

Be open to the idea that a move to Colorado could inspire a completely different route for your business.

Participation in the community is expected here.

Colorado natives believe that their state is more in tune with the Universe, and subsequently with each other.  It is part of our DNA to lift each other up, bring the best out of each other, and connect each other with those can help us move the needle with our vision.  The spirit of community in business is strong here. A rising tide lifts all boats. If and when you embrace this mindset during your move to Colorado, you can begin to improve entire industries rather than just your own bottom line.

We have the craft brewing industry, in part, to thank for this mentality. When home and small business brewing started gaining momentum, it was big business beer against small business. The micro-breweries banded together and helped their competition grow, rather than squashing them.  The success of one new taproom was a success for the whole movement. Communities started popping up around the idea of breweries supporting breweries.

In the world of tech, similar companies might be considered enemies. In Colorado, collaboration is king - and you might be surprised at how a “competitor” could be your next greatest ally.  I am particularly grateful to the competitors I know who have helped me when I needed it most.  

LIVE AND LET LIVE: Colorado is socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

Unlike California, Colorado has NOT bought into the socialized way of life. They are fiercely protective of their small business community and their freedom from red tape restrictions. Don’t get us wrong, we have plenty of opinions on both sides of the fence.

The cannabis, beer, and food industries have attracted both libertarians and liberal civil rights defenders. Coloradans have seen the success of their social activism and have confidence in their ability to fight the good fight against impeding monopolies. 

You will find people from all walks of life roaming the streets - and that’s okay. We like it that way, as long as we can all live and let live, and enjoy the mountains and each other.

True North tattoo on wrist points over lake

We have come a long way since that brisk morning in 2014 - but our integrity is intact - and so is the primary driver for authentic businesses to come here.  As our composure changes, it’s important we keep our identity strong. If you are willing to tackle these existential challenges (which are also opportunities), then we can’t wait to see what you bring to the table when you move to Colorado!

We know, it’s not going to be an easy transition when you move to Colorado - even if you are all fired up for it. Reach out to us so we can help you along the way. We will connect you with our community, help you find great people, and show you around the mountains and introduce you to the brewery scene!

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!