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Now Playing: Must-See Business Flicks

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 9:59 AM
Tags: small businesses

Business Videos2.jpgThat sluggish, sleepy period between Christmas and New Year's is a traditional time to recover from the frenzy and excess of the holidays by kicking back and watching movies.

Unfortunately, that kind of leisure just isn't an option for most small business owners. There's always work to do. Best get to it. But that doesn't mean you can't squeeze in a few must-see flicks between your chores. We're talking short videos for small business.  



A Holiday Gift for Manufacturers That's Made in Minnesota

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Tags: manufacturing, small businesses

Minnesota ManufacturersHere's one of those gotta-have-it gifts that hardworking manufacturers and suppliers all over Minnesota can give themselves this holiday season:  An online place to find - and be found by - more customers right in their own communities, regions and state. 

A Minnesota manufacturers supply chain database has been on the industry's wishlist for quite a while. And this year, manufacturers will find it neatly wrapped beneath their collective tree.



The Better Angels of Business Development

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Tags: manufacturing, small businesses, angel tax credit, business expansion

Angel FundA couple years ago, Lisa Lavin posed a question to a friend over lunch. “Do you have a patent burning a hole in your back pocket?” she wondered.

The inquiry wasn't entirely out of leftfield, considering that Lavin’s dining companion was Mark Kroll, an internationally recognized biomedical engineer who helped revolutionize implantable heart defibrillators, who holds more than 350 issued or pending patents, and who is widely considered Minnesota’s most inventive genius.



Describe, Discuss, Detail: Drafting the Guts of Your Business Plan

Posted on December 09, 2013 at 4:32 PM
Tags: small businesses

Biz Plan Essay.jpgFor anyone who dreads the thought of writing anything longer or more complex than a text or a tweet, words like "describe", "discuss", or "detail" are synonyms for a splitting headache and the main ingredients for an upset stomach.

If you're among the faint of heart when it comes to putting complete sentences and paragraphs down on paper, it's a good idea to stock up on pain pills and Pepto before you sit down to write the guts of your business plan. This is going to be like the world's longest essay exam. Deep details count big. Generalities, not so much.



Writing a Business Plan: The Art of the Executive Summary

Posted on December 02, 2013 at 3:21 PM
Tags: small businesses

My Biz PlanThere’s a literary legend in which Ernest Hemingway places a brash wager on the power of brevity. 

Insisting that just a few well-chosen words are enough to tell a compelling story, Hemingway bets several other writers $10 each that he can compose a complete story – one with a beginning, middle and end – in just six words.

Once his buddies ante up, he pens this on a napkin: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Short. Engaging. Powerful.

Whether it's true or not is a matter for literary scholars to debate. But when it comes to writing the executive summary of your business plan, it’s a good idea to channel Hemingway just a little.



A Big Day to Think Small

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Tags: small businesses

Here’s a Thanksgiving recipe that should become a tradition all over Minnesota:

Take one small business – preferably one that’s homegrown, not mass-produced – and stuff it with customers and a generous portion of greenbacks.  Serves: the entire community.



Success is Spelled P-L-A-N

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 2:06 PM
Tags: small businesses

Success in business is no accident.

Ok, so everyone knows someone who launched a business on a whim; has flown it by the seat of his pants; and – far from going down in flames – has been wildly successful. Yes, it happens. But it’s not the norm.



Rough, Tough, and All Business: Veterans are Natural Entrepreneurs

Posted on November 08, 2013 at 9:46 AM
Tags: small businesses, veterans

What do Westinghouse, Walgreens, Wendy’s, Forbes and FedEx have in common? Besides the letters W and F, that is. 

Give up? Or maybe the better word here is “surrender.” (Pssst. That’s a clue.)



More Manufacturers Should Think Outside the Border

Posted on October 21, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Owatonna and one day you get an inquiry from a potential customer in Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. Do you respond? Of course you do. When business comes knocking, you answer the door. That’s a no-brainer.

But what if the inquiry comes from Toronto … or Hamburg … or Sao Paulo? What then?



Export Seminars Focus on Benefits for Small Business

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Ask owners of small and midsized companies what scares them most about expanding their sales or business operations into foreign countries, and the answer is predictable.

“Risk,” says Ed Dieter, deputy director of the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), the state’s official export promotion agency, ticking off the top reason small companies with great potential shy away from exporting. “They worry they won’t get paid, that it’s too easy to lose their shirts. They’ll say, ’Look, I get stiffed often enough at home. Why would I take that chance overseas, where there’s nothing I can do about it?’”



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