MN Business 101 blog | Department of Employment and Economic Development | State of Minnesota en-us Shopping Small Should be a Big Post-Turkey Day Tradition Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0600 State of Minnesota

Shop Small logoLike it or not (and there's every reason to believe most Americans do like it) an all-hours marathon of shopping at big box stores, department stores and malls on Black Friday is as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie.

So, go ahead, join the scrum for the door-buster deals before they're all gone.

A Brief Look Employment Laws and Workers with Disabilities Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Laws You Should KnowIn the same way federal and state laws govern many other aspects of business in Minnesota, two sets of laws have something to say about employment practices when it comes to workers with disabilities.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (along with the companion ADA Amendments Act) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) each come into play.

Common Questions About Hiring Workers with Disabilities Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Machinist in a wheelchair works at piece of equipment
If you're an employer who's considering hiring someone with a disability, you've got questions.

The Invisibility of a Disability Wed, 21 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Woman at Keyboard.pngWhat did author Charles Dickens, scientist Charles Darwin and journalist Mike Wallace have in common?

All three of these successful people had disabilities. Dickens had epilepsy. Darwin had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). And, Wallace suffered from depression.

People with Disabilities Still an Untapped Labor Pool Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Elizabeth Kumar sitting in a wheelchairTwenty-five years ago President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights legislation aimed at bulldozing physical, employment and social barriers for tens of millions of people with disabilities and guaranteeing “fair and just access to the fruits of American life.” 

“Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom,” said Bush shortly before he put his pen to the ADA, first comprehensive declaration of its kind in the world.

Ready to Export? Some Management Issues to Consider Tue, 13 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Minnesota Manufacturers Should ExportWhether you've been in manufacturing a couple days or a couple decades, you've already heard this pitch. And heard it repeatedly.

If you're not exporting to foreign markets, it's quite possible you're selling yourself and your company short. 

Southwest Region: Food Manufacturing Brings Lots to the Table Mon, 12 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southwest Region To get an idea of just what an economic staple food manufacturing is in southwest Minnesota, chew on this:

While the regional economy declined 3.8 percent during the recession from 2007 to 2010, food manufacturing actually gained 466 net new jobs, an increase of 4.7 percent.

How's that for tasty?

Southeast Region: Plastic and Rubber MFG Bounces Back Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southeast Region thumbnail mapWhen people think of jobs in the manufacturing industry, they typically focus on a short list of production occupations that center on metal, assembly or welding, for instance.

But with nearly 16 percent of jobs in southeast Minnesota being in manufacturing, there's a much wider variety of promising manufacturing careers in this extraordinarily diversified region.

Twin Cities Metro Region: The Undisputed Heavyweight Champ Thu, 08 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Twin Cities Region thumbnail mapWhile each region of the state has a strong and competitive core of manufacturing industries that provide high-paying jobs, economic growth and stability, no place has the sheer manufacturing size, muscle and punch of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.

Overall, the seven-county Twin Cities metro region accounts for 53 percent of the state's total manufacturing employment, making it the industry's undisputed heavyweight champion.

Central Region: Going, Growing, and No Signs of Slowing Wed, 07 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Central Region Thumbnail Manufacturing continues to be a powerful economic engine in central Minnesota, driving profits, prosperity and job growth.

In the past year alone, manufacturers added nearly 1,300 new jobs, more than any other industry in the region, continuing a four-year growth trend that shows no signs of slowing.

Northwest Region: Transportation Equipment is on the Move Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Northwest RegionAfter suffering major setbacks during the recession, manufacturing of transportation equipment is regaining momentum in northwest Minnesota, a region well known for deep expertise in the production of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, boats and other vehicles.

Home to some of the industry's most recognized brands (Arctic Cat, Polaris, Lund), the region has recaptured a significant portion of statewide employment in the transportation equipment sector.

Northeast Region: Making Machines That Make Things Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota Northeast Minnesota

The moment northeast Minnesota's vast timber stands come into view, no one is surprised to learn that paper is king of the region's manufacturing industries.

But there's genuine amazement that the rustic Northwoods are also home to a cluster of manufacturers that build highly sophisticated machines used in a wide variety of other manufacturing processes and operations.

The Make-Up of Minnesota's Manufacturing Industries Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Outline of MinnesotaSometimes, nothing tells a story like numbers.

And if you really want to understand just how important manufacturing is to the general prosperity of Minnesota individuals, households, businesses (even state and local government, for that matter), you've got to start with the numbers.

Delivering the Goods on Minnesota Manufacturers Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Manufacturing WeekToday marks the beginning of Minnesota Manufacturing Week, our annual opportunity to focus on the tremendous impact that manufacturing of all kinds has on the economic vitality of every region of the state.

So, for the rest of this week and all of next week we'll take a daily, up-close look at manufacturing for the state as a whole and for each of six key regions.

Startups on Display Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Post-it note that reads Startup WeekYou’ve found something you’re passionate about and stayed tremendously interested in it. We say, way to go!

So to recognize Twin Cities Startup Week, DEED invites every hacker, maker, artist and entrepreneur fueling the economic vitality of Minnesota to an open house from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Wed., Sept. 9 in the First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul.

From Breakthroughs to Businesses Fri, 19 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

skyline.jpgCan there be any doubt about Minnesota’s ability to turn big ideas into big commercial successes and world-class industries?

The fact that some of the world’s most recognized companies – including many in biotech fields – are headquartered or have major operations in Minnesota says a lot. 

Collaboration Triggers Biotech Success Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Collaboration.jpgA rare atmosphere of collaboration exists among scientists, researchers, engineers, academia, industry and government in Minnesota's biotech sector.

And that willingness (desire, really) to work together is one of the things that draws bioscience companies here and makes them so successful. 

Research Drives Minnesota's Biotech Innovation Wed, 17 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Researcher.jpgResearch lies at the heart of most every biotech breakthrough.

And for more than 150 years, dedicated scientists, researchers, engineers and physicians at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic have driven bio-science advancements in Minnesota.

Minnesota's Inventive Genius on Display Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Medtronic device.pngMinnesota practically gave birth to the world's medical device industry, and the state remains at the forefront of discovery in many life science and biotech sectors today.

That kind of success is so rare that it will be recognized later this summer as part of an exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Spotlight on Minnesota's Bioscience Sector Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:45:13 -0500 State of Minnesota

Neurons.jpgExecutives from Minnesota biotech companies, key research institutions and a whole lot of industry movers-and-shakers are converging on Philadelphia this week for the BIO 2015 International Trade Show.

What better time to take an up-close look at one of the state's largest and most fascinating industries?

How to Tell If Things Are Working - Or Not Fri, 08 May 2015 11:31:41 -0500 State of Minnesota

Social Media Speech Bubbles.jpgSmall business owners endlessly debate whether or not a social media presence provides any real return for all of the time, money and brain power it saps from an organization.

Is it really working? That's all they really want to know. And by working, of course, they mean is it making money?

Right Tool, Right Message, Right-On Thu, 07 May 2015 15:52:55 -0500 State of Minnesota

Social Media Icons.jpgA luminary of the electronic age named Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase "the medium is the message" to suggest that the tools we use to deliver content are as important - or more important - than the content itself.

Why? Because the tools can greatly affect how we receive and understand the message.

Figuring Out the Social Media Puzzle Wed, 06 May 2015 10:15:23 -0500 State of Minnesota

Social Media Rubik's Cube.jpgRemember the Rubik's Cube, that migraine headache disguised as a toy? 

The object of that maddening little puzzle is simple enough. Twist, turn, adjust, readjust until you've aligned each of six separate colors on its own side of the cube. How hard could it be, right?

Zeroing in on Your Social Media Audience Tue, 05 May 2015 16:53:20 -0500 State of Minnesota

Segment and Targeting.jpgYou’re a small business owner on the horns of a very common dilemma. With all of the powerful social-media tools at your disposal, you wonder what you should be telling the world about your company.

That’s your first mistake.

Social Media for Small Businesses: Where Do You Start? Mon, 04 May 2015 13:20:56 -0500 State of Minnesota

confusion.jpgMarketing your small business was so much simpler and easier before social media showed up and threw a wrench into the whole works.

You bought some TV, radio or print ads. You forked over for a direct mail campaign once in a while. Maybe a billboard, depending on your budget.

There's More to Manufacturing Jobs Than Production & Assembly Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southwest Region MapWhen people think of the jobs in the manufacturing industry, they typically focus on a short list of production occupations, such as assemblers or welders. That makes sense. Nearly 60 percent of all occupations in manufacturing are classified as production in Southwest Minnesota.

But that also means a little more than 40 percent - or 16,320 manufacturing jobs in the region- are not in production. These include a mix of well-paid occupations, ranging from sales and marketing to construction and other trades. 

After Downturns in Southeast MN, Growth Returns Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southeast RegionIt's been a turbulent few years for manufacturing in southeastern Minnesota, as two recessions in a decade alternately pounded and pummeled the industry and triggered substantial job losses during the economic downturns.

The good news: In the calm that followed the storms job growth in the manufacturing industries is returning, albeit at a slower pace than job growth the region has seen across all other industries.

Paper's Still on a Roll in Northeast Minnesota Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Northeast RegionEven though Northeast Minnesota has the smallest number and lightest concentration of manufacturing jobs statewide, it remains a dominant player in a key industry.

And what the region lacks in job quantity is offset by high quality.

Paper manufacturing is a regional strong suit and (despite some significant job losses over the past few years) is still ripping right along in this part of the state.

High-Tech, Precision are Leaders in Metro Manufacturing Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Twin Cities Regional Map

It's fair to say that the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area is the epicenter of manufacturing in Minnesota.

The 4,105 manufacturing companies in the region supply 162,716 jobs. That's about 53 percent of all manufacturing jobs statewide.

In the metro region, the average annual wage in manufacturing was $69,680 in 2013 - 17 percent higher than the industry’s average annual wage for the state as a whole ($59,540).

Rural Renewal Good For Manufacturers Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Northwest RegionMuch has been made of the “brain drain” that results as young people ages 15 to 29 leave rural communities everywhere to seek out education, careers and lives in cities. 

While the youth exodus is troubling and deserves our attention, what is too often overlooked in all of the hand-wringing is the influx of workers ages 30 to 49 who are coming back to rural communities all over Minnesota - and what a boon that is to manufacturers.

Manufacturing is Comeback Kid in Central Minnesota Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Central Region

After getting knocked down hard during the recession, manufacturing has been the comeback kid in Central Minnesota.

Over the past three years, the sector has picked itself off the canvas, charged forward with remarkable stamina and made substantial gains.

Manufacturing has added more employment to this region’s economy than any other industry since 2010, gaining 3,676 jobs. 

When It Comes to Manufacturing, Minnesota's Got It Made Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

It's Minnesota Manufacturers WeekOn the off chance you forgot to circle it in red on your calendar along with other important dates like your wedding anniversary or your kids’ birthdays, here’s a gentle reminder: Today marks the beginning of Minnesota Manufacturers Week.

Cue the trumpet. The applause. The cheering. Roll out the cake with sparklers. All of it well deserved.

Manufacturers Should See and Seize Export Opportunities Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Three globes, three continentsLike lots of Minnesota manufacturers, Erick Ajax hadn’t given much thought to selling his products in foreign markets.

Exporting sounded too complicated. Too risky. And EJ Ajax, a Fridley-based precision metal-forming company, was too busy taking care of its U.S. customers to go prospecting in unknown and uncertain territory abroad.

Are Women Ignoring Careers in Manufacturing? Mon, 06 Oct 2014 10:20:06 -0500 State of Minnesota

Women in Manufacturing
You can’t help but notice the special emphasis Sarah Richards uses as she describes her company.

“We are a third-generation, woman-owned metal fabrication manufacturer,” says Richards, the CEO and president of Jones Metal Products in Mankato, Minn.

SBDC Success Story: Crow Wing Cabinets Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:16:16 -0500 State of Minnesota

Crow-Wing-Cabinets.jpg Since 1992, Crow Wing Cabinets’ owners Dave and Sandy Beyer have worked with builders and homeowners to provide cabinets and counter-tops for new and remodeled homes in the Brainerd Lakes area.

As the company grew, the North Central SBDC at Central Lakes College advised and assisted the Beyers in a variety of management areas.

SBDC Success Story: Kelly's Koffee Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:37:54 -0500 State of Minnesota

After Kelly Brinkmeyer decided to sell Kelly’s Koffee to pursue other opportunities, Keith and Rhonda Yochem made a life-changing decision to buy the business. 

Although they had no experience in restaurants, the Yochem's were confident they could learn and carry on the Kelly’s Koffee tradition.

SBDC Success Story: Lush Lola's LLC Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:52:40 -0500 State of Minnesota


In the middle of a farming business bankruptcy, Shannon and Jim Malzahn sought the help of the West Central Small Business Development Center to salvage the one part of their business that was working—prepared food.

Never in their wildest dreams did the Malzahns ever consider where this new venture would take them. 

The Bottom Line on Loan Agreements Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:36:07 -0500 State of Minnesota

Loan Documentation

And you thought the hard part was over. 

It's been a nerve-racking month or so, but you've survived the financial inquisition, the scrutinizing of your character and competence, and you've managed to convince the bank that you're a safe enough bet to merit a business loan.

Hurraaaaay! While you're sending out for champagne and confetti, you may be wondering what happens next.

Some Loan Insights You Can Bank On Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:06:32 -0500 State of Minnesota

Bank vault doorIf you’re getting ready to talk to a banker about a business loan, it helps to understand the major factors lenders consider in deciding whether the vault door opens or stays locked -- and whether you’ll leave the bank happy or disappointed.

But before we cover how a bank evaluates your loan application, it’s worth touching on why they’ll subject your request to such intense scrutiny.

Business Finance Questions You Should Ask Yourself Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:44:33 -0500 State of Minnesota

Should I Borrow?After shaking the guts out of your piggy bank and hitting up friends and family for some extra dough (See Business Finance: A Matter of Life and Debt), you've decided that you want some more financial muscle behind your business.

That means a visit to your friendly (you hope) banker.

But before you even think of approaching a lender about a business loan, there are some pretty important questions you should ask yourself.

Business Finance: A Matter of Life and Debt Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:43:58 -0500 State of Minnesota

Help YourselfSo, you've come to terms with the fact that there's no one out there with a briefcase full of bucks just waiting for the chance to finance your new business out of the goodness of their hearts. (See Bigfoot, Small Business Grants, and Other Myths).

Nuts!  So much for Plan A.

But how -- and where, exactly -- are you supposed to find the money you need to get your business up, running and turning a profit? That's probably the most common question ever posed by would-be entrepreneurs everywhere.

Coming to Terms with the Language of Business Wed, 11 Jun 2014 09:31:41 -0500 State of Minnesota

Business TerminologyThe world of business and finance has a language all its own, hundreds and hundreds of terms, some of them so arcane that no small business owner would ever need to understand them. 

Case in point: "Accreting Principal Swap." Go on, look it up, if you dare. But pop a couple of Advil first. It's a headache in 100 words. 

Still, there are some definitions and concepts that every aspiring entrepreneur should understand. Don't know your P&L from your ROI? If it's all alphabet soup to you, here are some basic terms to get you started. In alphabetical order, of course.

Small-Biz Advocates and Consultants Play a Crucial Role Fri, 16 May 2014 13:26:37 -0500 State of Minnesota

RescueThere's nothing worse than feeling alone and helpless, cast adrift on a sea of trouble.

And there's nothing better than, just when you think you're about to be swamped by the next wave, having someone toss a life ring and you're saved. Wheeeeew! 

Hats Off to the Dreamers, Risk-Takers, Go-Getters & Achievers Thu, 15 May 2014 13:36:20 -0500 State of Minnesota

Minnesota Business Success StoriesIt just wouldn't be right if we let National Small Business Week wind down without a nod to companies that are making some really good things happen for themselves and their communities.

Minnesota has more than half a million small businesses. Owners make big commitments and take big risks. They work long hours and face long odds. And they succeed like crazy. Here are just a few stories from our Small Business Development Centers

Small Businesses Success Takes Partners Wed, 14 May 2014 14:04:50 -0500 State of Minnesota

handshakeSuccess doesn't come easy when you start your own business. It takes talent, drive, guts and more than a dash of plain, old luck. 

It also helps to have some rock-solid partners in your corner. 

As we celebrate National Small Business Week, it's important to recognize that Minnesota’s small businesses don’t go it alone (or they don't have to, anyway).

Small Business Means Big Bucks in Minnesota Mon, 12 May 2014 13:48:42 -0500 State of Minnesota

Happy Small Business Week, MinnesotaIn case you entrepreneurs have been too busy taking care of business to notice, this is National Small Business Week.

So, in your honor, the rest of us Minnesotans pooled together and got you something nice: It's the recognition and gratitude you so richly deserve. Go ahead, try it on. Feels good, doesn't it? Yeah, looks good on you, too.

The Cure for the Gulp Moment and Chronic Business Headaches Fri, 09 May 2014 10:23:18 -0500 State of Minnesota

It may have happened a week ago or a decade ago, but most every small-business owner can tell you exactly when they had the “Gulp!” moment.

That’s the time when the excitement, optimism, and euphoria of starting their businesses suddenly gave way to a breath-stealing, temple-throbbing, sweat-inducing panic.

Government Contracts Can Give Big Boost to Small Business Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:42:01 -0500 State of Minnesota

Hot Ticket Events.jpgSelling goods and services to federal, state and local government offices and agencies can be profitable for all companies, no matter their size or target industries. But government contracts can be especially important for the stability and growth of small businesses.

That's why government at many levels takes pains to nourish small businesses by making sure they get a healthy slice of the procurement pie.

Bigfoot, Small Business Grants, and Other Myths Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:18:30 -0500 State of Minnesota

BigfootBigfoot ... the Yeti … the Chupacabra … the Loch Ness Monster … the Government Small Business Grant.

Each is a myth, a flight of fancy, an expression of wishful thinking, a figment of someone’s runaway imagination.

Of course, people can be forgiven for believing in such folklore. We humans seem to have a genetic gullibility when it comes to monsters and money.

The Income Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Profits Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:24:59 -0500 State of Minnesota

Forecast $$$$.jpgMeaningful financial projections are essential to business success. How much revenue will you take in? How much will be profit? Will the profit be enough to sustain the business?

No one should ever start or buy a business without a clear plan of profit and a realistic understanding of the sales volume needed to achieve it.

Count on It: You Need to Know Beans About Accounting Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:04:18 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:23:56 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:15:17 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:55:32 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:59:21 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 23 Dec 2013 15:50:44 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 16 Dec 2013 10:13:57 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 09 Dec 2013 16:32:25 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 02 Dec 2013 15:21:40 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Tue, 26 Nov 2013 10:49:01 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:06:44 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Fri, 08 Nov 2013 09:46:03 -0600 State of Minnesota

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 Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:17:41 -0500 State of Minnesota

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?

Low-Cost Brain Power for High-Tech Companies Mon, 07 Oct 2013 17:30:36 -0500 State of Minnesota

Here are two business problems with one ingenious solution:

Taking License: Your Business Might Need One Before Launch Mon, 30 Sep 2013 17:43:50 -0500 State of Minnesota

You’ve cleared some of the initial hurdles on the way to launching your own business.

You’ve committed yourself, chosen and registered a business structure and name. Everything’s off to a good start.

Export Seminars Focus on Benefits for Small Business Mon, 23 Sep 2013 09:36:57 -0500 State of Minnesota

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?’”

Unemployment Insurance Basics for Employers Mon, 09 Sep 2013 08:03:19 -0500 State of Minnesota

From the standpoint of an employee, unemployment insurance is pretty straightforward. You get laid-off or lose your job in some way that’s not your fault, so you apply for unemployment insurance benefits and the cash you receive (while only a partial replacement of your wages) helps tide you over until you find a new job.

From an employer’s standpoint, there’s much, much more to know. There are state and federal laws to follow, report deadlines to meet, tax returns to be filed and payments to be made. And mistakes can prove costly.

Big Buzz on Small Biz: $2.8 Million in Targeted Assistance Grants Tue, 20 Aug 2013 08:05:30 -0500 State of Minnesota

Word is spreading about $2.8 million in state grants to provide consulting services and technical assistance to targeted small businesses statewide.

DEED announced last week that it has awarded two-year grants to 11 nonprofit groups that provide business development services to targeted groups, including women, minorities, rural residents, bioscience startups, entrepreneurs and inventors.

North Woods Success Story Mon, 29 Jul 2013 11:44:51 -0500 State of Minnesota

Deerwood Technologies has experienced many ups and downs since it was founded 13 years ago by Jim Mayne.

Mayne’s computer-services firm, based in Deerwood, about 20 miles northeast of Brainerd, was struggling financially when an accountant referred him to DEED’s North Central Small Business Development Center. Going to the center for guidance turned out to be one of the smartest moves Mayne ever made.

Forming a Corporation Mon, 22 Jul 2013 11:48:37 -0500 State of Minnesota

The way you form a corporation in Minnesota is dictated by st ate law and the process is pretty straightforward.

Start by filing articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State and paying the filing fee. You canfile online or download and submit a ready-made articles of incorporation form, or you may draft and submit your own articles of incorporation (advice of an attorney is advised here).The articles of incorporation contain these elements:

The Big Picture on Corporations Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:57:15 -0500 State of Minnesota

The word ‘corporation’ can conjure up some big images. Big business. Big expense. Big complexity.

An Udderly Fabulous Idea Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:51:20 -0500 State of Minnesota

Sometimes a great business idea can be right in the palm of your hand.

Not so long ago, Cheryl Mohn was milking cows on her family’s dairy farm in rural Lakeville, MN, when something dawned on her. There had to be a cleaner, more efficient way to transport the towels she used to sanitize a cow’s udders before attaching the milking machine.

She started noodling on the problem and soon enough the Towel Tote™ went from idea to reality and Mohn became the president of a new company, Udder Tech, Inc.

Going into Business is a Declaration of Independence Mon, 01 Jul 2013 13:00:21 -0500 State of Minnesota

As we celebrate Independence Day this week, it’s a good time to reflect on that most American of activities: Business.

Ask entrepreneurs why they decided to go into business and chances are pretty good they’ll tell you they wanted to control their own destinies, to reap more of the rewards of their work, and to pursue happiness without seeking permission from the boss.

Think of it as a declaration of independence.

Forming a Limited Liability Company Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:22:31 -0500 State of Minnesota

The way you form and operate a limited liability company in Minnesota is governed by state law, and it’s a good idea to take a look at the statutes. You’re not doing this to be your own attorney, mind you, but just to get a good general understanding of what the laws cover.

Among other things, the laws include such basics as articles of organization; powers and member interests; governance and management; distribution of profits; loans and obligations, and merger, exchange, transfer or dissolution.

Limited Liability Companies Offer Protection and Flexibility Mon, 17 Jun 2013 13:50:53 -0500 State of Minnesota

Business and risk are joined at the hip. And they’re inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. It’s best to face that cold reality right from the get go.

In a worst-case scenario, you risk losing your business, all of its assets, every cent you’ve invested in it, plus most of your personal assets to satisfy the debts and obligations of your failed enterprise.

The mere prospect is enough to give even the most self-assured entrepreneur a case of hives. (If you’re deathly allergic to risk, now is a good time to rethink the notion of starting a business of your own.) But there are ways to structure your business that reduce the risks by reducing the personal liability.

Forming a General Partnership Mon, 10 Jun 2013 13:54:21 -0500 State of Minnesota

There are a few different kinds of business partnerships. They vary in legal structure depending whether – or how – the liability of partners can be limited. Today, we’re touching only on the basics of forming a general partnership.

A general partnership is a business (that is not a corporate entity) that is owned by two or more people. Under state law, general partnerships have specific attributes:

Partnership: It Takes Two or More to Tango Mon, 03 Jun 2013 13:56:39 -0500 State of Minnesota

Everyone knows people who wouldn’t dream of going to the movies by themselves. Or out to dinner. Or to a party. Or to the beach. Or you name it.

The advantages of a partnership are clear: shared work, shared financial burdens, and shared risk. Partners may also bring talents and expertise into the business that sole proprietors may not have alone. All good stuff.

There are disadvantages, too. Sharing responsibilities, control over the company, and profits and losses can be more complicated and difficult than going it alone.

Here are some major factors to consider when deciding whether a general partnership is the best way to structure your business.

Forming a Sole Proprietorship Mon, 27 May 2013 14:49:48 -0500 State of Minnesota

If business organizations – meaning the way companies are legally formed and structured – came in a build-it-yourself kit, some would be so complex they’d make a team of engineers cry like kindergartners as they struggled to assemble the Tinker Toys the right way.

Sole Proprietorship: It’s All About You Mon, 20 May 2013 09:20:30 -0500 State of Minnesota

A sole proprietorship is the very definition of going into business for yourself. You are the business and the business is you. And there’s nobody else.

Perhaps the most common form of business organization for startups, a sole proprietorship can be terrific and terrifying. The credit and the blame; the profit and the loss; the freedom and the responsibility; all of it is all yours – all the time.

Getting Organized: Choosing the Right Business Structure Mon, 13 May 2013 09:23:35 -0500 State of Minnesota

To be. … And how to be. Those are the first decisions you’ll make when you go into business for yourself.

The first is monumental: You decide to stop dreaming and start doing. You know your business, you understand your market and its potential, and you can’t wait to get started. There’s a kind of stomach-churning excitement.

The second decision is fundamental: You have to choose how your business will be legally structured and organized.

Getting Down to Business: Have You Got What It Takes? Mon, 06 May 2013 09:28:30 -0500 State of Minnesota

So, you’ve got the itch. Visions of financial independence, being your own boss, and doing something more fulfilling have got you thinking about going into business for yourself.

You’re not alone.

In Business, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You Wed, 01 May 2013 09:34:51 -0500 State of Minnesota

It takes guts, steely confidence, and a super-human tolerance for risk to go into business. No one ever starts out believing they’ll fail. Sure, they know it’s possible. They know it happens to others. But they pour their lives and fortunes and futures into their dream anyway because they feel certain that things will be different for them.

And most of them will be wrong.