December 2003

Cover Story

Man with a plan

Three years ago, when Alberto Monserrate was pounding the pavement selling advertising for small Latino publications in Minnesota, many big advertisers were laughing.

?They couldn?t help themselves,? says Monserrate, president and CEO of Latino Communications Network (LCN Media) in Minneapolis. ?They?d say, ?Hispanics in Minnesota? You gotta be kidding.? They didn?t deem it necessary to advertise to what they thought was a tiny market.?

That, however, was before the release of the 2000 census, which showed the explosion in Minnesota?s Hispanic/Latino population.

?I realized what most people didn?t at that time, how fast the Latino community was growing,? says Puerto Rican-born Monserrate, 37. ?I would drive down Lake Street, and I could see that every week more Latinos were moving in and more businesses were opening.?
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Letter From the Editor


Do you have a dream for your company? Do you want to expand to other cities? Move to bigger headquarters? Hire more employees? Launch a new product? Start doing business overseas? Beef up your e-commerce offerings? Pump up your sales growth rate? Raise money?

Upsize is launching a new contest designed to help three local business owners make that dream come true. It?s called the Upsize Growth Challenge, presented by Fredrikson & Byron. Continue reading →

Back Page

Kathy Tunheim, Tunheim partners, on regaining her independence

Is she thinking, ?Free at last!? or ?Yikes!? Kathy Tunheim, CEO of the $6-million Bloomington public relations firm Tunheim Partners, says a little of both.

She bought her company back this fall from the giant GCI Group of New York. She had sold in 2001, thinking that clients wanted access to a global network of offices. After 9/11 and the bursting of the technology bubble, it turns out they wanted to work with someone they know.

Tunheim talks about the perils and benefits of selling to a large parent company, then regaining independence.
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Tech Audits: The fix

With the ?90s behind us, technology strategy might seem like a distant concern for most businesses today.

Not so for the four local firms featured in this story. Each has launched or broadened major computer-related projects in the last few years. Here their projects are profiled, including the factors motivating it, what it cost in time and money, and the results.
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Cambridge Community Spotlight: Critical mass

Not many people can give a history lesson on Cambridge quite like longtime resident George Johnson, president of Cambridge Properties.

Johnson could spend hours talking about how the central Minnesota town has developed from a rural farming outpost to an active retail, manufacturing and small-business hub in Isanti County, where it is also the county seat.

With a population at almost 7,000, one might not consider this city bustling. Cambridge still has the old-town charm, small-town feel, and everyone-knows-everybody relationships that can bind a community together.
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Q&A: Line by line

Most people think it?s agony to pore over phone bills and access charges and figure out the errors. For Cheryl O?Brien, it?s both an exhilarating challenge and a business. She started Technology Management Corp. of Shorewood 18 years ago, and spends her and her associates? time auditing clients? technology bills and systems and letting them know how to money.

O?Brien tells Upsize that owners can do the light lifting themselves, and she says they?ll love the feeling of empowerment when they do.
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Cambridge Community Spotlight: Behind the scenes

Kathi Schaaf believes that in order for a chamber of commerce to succeed, it must give the members of the organization value. She also knows that in order for businesses to succeed, they need ample resources to grow. She works to see that the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce meets those challenges.

?People who join the chamber want a return on their investment,? says Schaaf, executive director. ?It?s no longer acceptable for a company to join the chamber just to say they?re involved with the community. If they join, they want programs that can benefit their business.?
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Business Builders


Raising necessary capital is always a consuming task and an unavoidable requirement. When reviewing the options for raising capital, however, companies are often frustrated at the complexity. Like ship-wrecked sailors in a lifeboat, they may be surrounded by water but none of it is theirs to drink.
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Ever think about tapping into your cash cow to fund a new market entry? You may want to think again.

Many companies believe it?s their best growth strategy. Yet this may not be the most prudent approach. Entry into new markets often increases the complexity of the business well beyond what was anticipated. It also can quickly decrease the company's comfortable cash position due to unanticipated costs before any significant market entry has been made.
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It?s a classic scenario. Your boss approves your participation in a professional association conference, say in San Francisco, but part of the deal is that you do lots of networking. Now it?s a quarter to five in the city on the bay, and you?re in your room trying to psyche yourself up for the cocktail/networking hour.

You start hoping you?ll pass out before you actually have to make contact with someone you don?t know. The dread is only compounded by that little voice in your head (not to mention your boss?s voice!) that says you should do this. Continue reading →


What is your Web site worth? Chances are, if you haven?t taken a good look at it for many months or even years, it may not be reaching its full potential. The value of a Web site is often found in a company?s willingness to change it.

You wouldn?t buy a new car and not maintain it with regular oil changes and check-ups. Nor would you buy a great new outfit and not wear it with different shirts and accessories. In essence, your Web site can always be a fabulous new wardrobe ? engaging, yet affordable. The greatest strength of a Web site is its real-time ability to evolve and change with the business. A lot of companies don?t take advantage of the opportunity to keep it exciting and fresh ? reflective of changes in their business and current business climate.
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DinaWorld Adventures is a young company that?s taking a different approach to the age-old act of selling clothing and accessories. The owners are placing storytelling at the center of what they call a ?fashion-focused entertainment company.?
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Venture Capital

The close contact that venture capitalists have with companies they fund can be uncomfortable, at least according to two panelists at the 17th Annual Minnesota Venture Finance Conference in October.
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Any small to mid-sized company knows resources to develop new products are limited.

Padilla Speer Beardsley, the 80-employee Minneapolis public relations agency, has formed Lumin, a limited liability corporation with four other agencies around the country. Its purpose is to serve as a research and development lab, the creations of which all Lumin members can use.
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?Hi, um, this is Jane, and we?re in your area (cough) with direct satellite TV services.?

?Oh, sorry I missed you (ahem) but you?ll want to know about our new low rates.?

?Now you?re gonna need this, so get ready for your access number.?

Anyone with a phone has probably heard messages like these: recorded voices speaking informally and pitching products. No longer are the messages dry and formal. Rather, they?re punctuated with ?ums? and ?uhs,? with the idea apparently being to fool listeners into thinking their best friend is calling.
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Local attorney and entrepreneur Scott Hillstrom is building a chain of for-profit, franchised health care outlets in Kenya, which will grow to 60 shops by the end of the year and treat 300,000 patients annually.

His motivation was despair at a statistic he learned while living the high life in New Zealand, after selling his company, Rehab One, to its main customer in 1995. ?I had learned that 25,000 children die every single day in developing countries, from preventable diseases, diseases that could have been cured for the price of a cup of coffee,? Hillstrom says.
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Office Equipment

They may not be beautiful, but the desks, filing cabinets, chairs and other used office equipment selling at the University of Minnesota?s ReUse Program Warehouse are functional. Continue reading →


QuickMedX plans to open its first outlet outside of Minnesota early next year, and in October changed its name to MinuteClinic to coincide with the growth spurt. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

DEAR INFORMER: My neighbor has just been accused of embezzling, which has nothing to do with me but causes me to worry: How can I protect my company from financial fraud?

DEAR WORRIED: Great question, says Grant Young, given today?s environment of world-class companies crumbling because of financial shenanigans. Young is the partner-in-charge of Wipfli, a St. Paul-based accounting firm.

?In all businesses, including small businesses, the very most important thing is the separation or segregation of duties,? says Young. ?In other words, the same person that writes the checks doesn?t sign the checks, and someone else should reconcile the bank account.?
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2-minute meeting

Business owners may face balky bankers and elusive customers, but that?s nothing compared with Ann Bancroft?s experience. The Twin Cities-based explorer who?s been to the North and South Poles recalled brutal temperatures and blasts of wind on the way to her goal.
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Personality counts when choosing venue for meetings

When choosing the right venue for your company meeting, it helps for small-business owners to take a quick personality test: Are you a minimalist who works and learns best with no more than a yellow notepad and No. 2 pencil? Or are you a technology aficionado who totes the latest wireless gadgets?

Are you a get-down-to-business type, or one who is willing to weave leisure and fun into an event?

The answers ? along with an honest assessment of how much money and time you?re willing to spend ? can help you determine where you should host your next company meeting, say meeting and event planners.

If you?re that no-frills, business-only type who wants to focus on dispensing information quickly and inexpensively, you might want to settle on a neighborhood community center. Continue reading →