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Count on It: You Need to Know Beans About Accounting

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Tags: small businesses

Head for Numbers.jpgWhat business topic can induce deep sleep faster than a cocktail of warm milk and Ambien? If you said “Accounting-ssssssnnnnnk-zzzzzzzz” and then dozed off, you nailed it.

By now, your lids may be drooping and you’re fighting back a yawn, so it’s time to get up, pour yourself some strong coffee, do some jumping jacks, slap yourself on the cheeks a few times, and clear your head enough to wrap it around this simple truth:

You can’t afford to be bored by accounting. Not if you hope to stay in business.



To Buy or Not to Buy? The Answer Starts With Questions

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM
Tags: small businesses

Business for Sale.jpgUp to now, we've focused on fundamental issues that anyone thinking of starting a business from scratch should understand before diving in.

But what if you've got your eye on an existing business or a franchise? Well, the same organizational and operational basics still apply. But before you even get to those, you have to know a whole lot more about the prospective business.

Careful evaluation of any business opportunity is an essential first step, one that is too often skipped entirely or given short shrift as over-eager entrepreneurs leap before they look, their judgment clouded by sheer excitement and warm-fuzzy hopes for the business instead of being guided by cold-blooded financial analysis.



Having a Good Business Story Pays? Do Tell

Posted on February 03, 2014 at 2:15 PM
Tags: small businesses

Good Story.jpgThere’s money in a well-told story.

And not just for best-selling novelists, Oscar-winning screenwriters and witty public radio yarn spinners. It’s true for small businesses, too.

Think about it. A well told story has the power to help you entice, win and keep customers. It has the power to convince lenders and investors to risk their money on your success.  It has the power to stir government to enact pro-business policies and laws. It even has the power to harm your business, if told by someone else. 



Some Prize Opportunities from Minnesota Cup

Posted on January 06, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Tags: small businesses

Hot Ticket Events.jpgMinnesota Cup, an organization focused on helping entrepreneurs, inventors and small business people conceive, refine, and commercialize breakthrough business ideas, will be hosting several upcoming seminars that should prove quite valuable to anyone who is contemplating a startup or has recently launched a business. All are offered at no cost.

Over the next few months, panels of experts will cover legal, accounting, financing, marketing essentials and more in a new series dubbed Minnesota Cup 101. And a half-day seminar slated for early March takes a comprehensive look at challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs.



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.



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