Cover Story

One note at a time

The first thing Mike Cleary did after returning from a recent two-day business trip to Milwaukee and Chicago was send 13 notes to customers, clients, vendors and others he had met.

They were simple notes, some as short as two sentences. One thanked a client for meeting with him. Another let a vendor know he really enjoyed a presentation, and a third reminded a potential customer about the services his company could provide.
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Letter From the Editor


If you rode a Segway to work today ? you know, those big-wheeled, motorized carts that you stand on, looking faintly embarrassed as your clothes billow about and you jostle for space with the SUVs ? then you?re an early adopter of technology.
If you?ve got a box of PDAs, or personal digital assistants, that you?ve tried and discarded until finding just the right one, you too are likely a technophile. You?re unlikely to be overwhelmed by the vast number of technological choices available.
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Back Page

Tom Niccum, Lancet Software, on the value of expanding your world view

Tom Niccum returned in March from a two-week photography trip to Afghanistan, where he met up with Steve McCurry, a photographer for National Geographic. Their experiences included photographing a religious ceremony amid flying knives ? the type of thing that Niccum says makes ordinary business problems seem tame.
In his other life, Niccum is president of Lancet Software in Eagan, a firm he started with three partners. He says they?ve realized their No. 1 business goal: To create a successful place to work where you don?t curse when you have to go there on Mondays.
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Technology buyer's guide

Owners can cut costs for communication with expert strategies Continue reading →

Technology buyer's guide

Wireless technology sheds ?toy? status to become tool Continue reading →


Low-tech process can
estimate return on tech
investment Continue reading →

Technology buyer's guide

Analyze cost, benefit of office options before you buy too much
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Technology buyer's guide

Web sites that allow e-commerce are best bet, experts say Continue reading →

Business Builders


As a successful business owner, your key assets, such as your business, home and other savings, are very important to you. With the uncertain future of today?s estate tax laws, the failure to plan ahead could significantly affect your estate. Many individuals feel the best way to ensure their assets are passed on efficiently is to transfer their wealth during their lifetime.
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?When choosing between two evils,? quipped film legend Mae West, ?I always choose the one I?ve never tried before.? But when it comes to choosing among high-speed Internet access options for your company, you may find that your choices ? from DSL and cable to T1s, ISDN and DS3s ? might baffle even the indomitable Ms. West. Continue reading →


In the March 2003 issue of Upsize, Kim Garretson told entrepreneurs to ?squish the strategy bug on the pavement.?

As teachers of strategic planning who frequently advise entrepreneurs, we initially cringed at this advice. After all, we might be considered to be priests in the temple of strategy.

Yet after a careful reading of Garretson?s argument, we found that he was not as negative about strategy as we first thought and that there are some points where we might agree.
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Human Resources

Last March, one of our vendors dropped by the office and found us having a picnic. She was clearly taken aback.

All of our staff members, dressed in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts, were sitting on blankets and beach towels, munching goodies from picnic baskets and getting ready to dive into a six-foot-long hoagie. The room was decorated with sunbursts and other items suggesting the long-awaited arrival of summer as driving snow swirled against the windows.

We invited her to join us and within minutes, she too was experiencing what we at our company call ?delight.?
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Dear Informer

Tax incentive alone isn'tgood reason to buy equipment by Beth Ewen   DEAR INFORMER: I’ve been putting off some capital equipment purchases. How do I evaluate when to make those purchases or when to put them off some more? DEAR WAITING: President Bush’s tax cut in May included some nice incentives for small-business owners who […] Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

  by Beth Ewen   Barnett Helzberg tellsME! members how todeal with Warren Buffett Barnett Helzberg, of the famous Helzberg diamond family, is walking by the Plaza Hotel in New York City when he hears a lady calling hello to Warren Buffett.  “So I say, ‘Come on, you big entrepreneur. Here’s your chance.’ So I […] Continue reading →


New gun law boostssign business, but notall sign-makers cheer At least one enterprising sign-making company sent a sales rep to a seminar this summer about Minnesota’s new conceal-and-carry law. In effect in May, the law allows more people to get permits to carry a concealed weapon. It also requires companies that want to ban guns […] Continue reading →


The Foundation findsniche early, beats techsector’s slide to date Although many see 1999 as the year that technology firms took a dive, it’s the year that Chip Pearson started his Minneapolis-based consulting company, The Foundation. “I walked into my corporate job and quit,” Pearson says. “I just had reached my limit and decided that my […] Continue reading →


Metro State adds firstlocal certification programfor women-owned businesses Business owners who want their companies certified as women-owned no longer have to travel to Chicago to get that done. Mary Riebe is launching a certification program this fall at the Center for Women Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Education, part of Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis. As part […] Continue reading →


Convicted financier says line can be crossed easilywhen colleagues talk The driving force was a big ego. So said former financier George Kline of his insider trading and other financial crimes at White Collar Crime and Personal Responsibility, a June program sponsored by the University of St. Thomas’ law school and Center for Ethical Business […] Continue reading →


Investors in jP AmericanBistro take their paybackin food and drink Minneapolis attorney Bill Kampf has dined at jP American Bistro six or seven times already this year, yet he never has to pay the tab. That’s because he arranged creative financing for the new restaurant in south Minneapolis, owned by local celebrity chef J.P. Samuelson. […] Continue reading →

New tax incentive
helps small businesses
buy capital equipment

A new tax incentive passed by Congress in May is designed to help small-business owners buy capital equipment, and Laurie Paal, business banking manager for Wells Fargo in Minneapolis, is on a mission to spread the word. A lack of business spending has been “the Achilles’ heel of the U.S. economy” during 2003, and a turnaround […] Continue reading →


Cedar Summit Farm has been in Dave Minar?s family ever since his grandfather purchased it in 1926. He and his wife, Flo, have been running the New Prague, Minnesota-based farm, which produces meat and dairy products, since 1969.
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When choosing a lawyer, think long term

In search of a good lawyer? Education, expertise and experience, of course, are crucial qualifications to weigh when winnowing your list of candidates. But equally important to small-business owners should be qualities like personality, attentiveness and trustworthiness. Continue reading →