February 2006

Cover Story

Flush to Frugal

Self-described serial entrepreneur Gary Anderson has pretty much seen it all when it comes to raising funds for startups.

When Anderson led SPS Commerce Inc., a high-profile, venture capital-backed Internet company, the firm went through multiple rounds of funding in the 1990s, raising more than $30 million. ?During the Internet bubble, money flowed freely,? Anderson, 56, says. ?Ventures were coming to us,? he marvels, referring to venture capital investors.

Anderson admits that like other high-tech companies at the time, his company spent freely, too. ?Too many people were taking first-class rather than coach.? In the long run, he says, ?We weren?t creating much value for shareholders in those spending times.?

When Anderson moved to chairman of the board at SPS, he missed the day-to-day activities of running the company. He stepped down in summer 2000 to join St. Paul-based Netbriefings Inc. as its CEO and chairman. Netbriefings was a consulting company, which Anderson morphed into an Internet webcasting services company. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


All parents wonder whether the things they say and do get through to their children. At least two parents, who are also recipients of the inaugural Upsize Lifeline Awards, can know for sure. Continue reading →

Back Page

How Bill White used boredom, desperation and Vance Opperman to expand his legal publishing business

A ?recovering attorney,? Bill White launched Minnesota Law & Politics, a monthly legal publication, in 1990 with its trademark goofy covers and oddball slogan: ?Only our name is boring.?
Desperate for revenue, he started Super Lawyers in 1991, a ranking of the state?s top lawyers with ads purchased by many on the list. Bought in 1996 by political, legal and publishing magnate Vance Opperman, White has now expanded Super Lawyers to more than two dozen cities and expanded revenue as well. Continue reading →


Small time

Debra Paterson oversees $11 billion in assets, 2,400 employees and more than 95 stores, since coming to Wells Fargo in Minneapolis 18 months ago. She?s in charge of retail and business banking in the Twin Cities. She says her bankers are keenly interested in lending to small-business owners and selling them a wide range of products, and are emphasizing even more in 2006 the smallest of the small, those with $0 to $2 million in annual revenue. Here?s insight into how small-business owners can improve their chances of getting capital. Continue reading →

Upsize Lifeline Awards & Forecast: Expert opinion

Upsize discussed in late 2005 the results of the Upsize small-business survey with experts in four fields: Loren Viere, KDV, accounting, tax and operations Kirk Hoaglund, Clientek, technology Elin Raymond, The Sage Group, marketing and communications and Richard Hoyt, Analytics Invesment Advisors, investing and economics. Small-business owners themselves, they also represent the four sponsoring firms of the Upsize Lifeline Awards & Forecast, held Jan. 31, and presented versions of these comments at the event. Continue reading →

Upsize Lifeline Awards & Forecast: Indicators up

Minnesota small-business owners see good things on the horizon for 2006, especially at their own companies, exclusive new research by Upsize Minnesota shows.

Surveyed near the end of a rough 2005 ? a year that saw hurricanes wreck the coastlands, and high energy prices ravage bottom lines ? respondents say they feel the new year will bring positive economic changes. Continue reading →

Getting a loan

For many small businesses, a bank loan can make or break a dream.

Officials at banks of all sizes say they see these dreams presented every day, and every day they need to decide who gets money and who is sent away. It?s not easy to make that decision, but banking ? like any other business ? is about making the right deals. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Community relations

Keeping tabs on industry happenings, the competition and your target markets is key to survival and growth. But watching those items and ignoring the community just outside your front door is like checking for vital signs without taking a pulse. Continue reading →


After several years of cutting back, you may now be looking at making technology investments. One of the largest items in your technology budget is your customer relationship management (CRM) program.

You might be saying, ?What CRM program?? If you are marketing your product or service, a CRM program is something that?s important in helping you watch the return on investment of your marketing efforts. Also, a good CRM program, when used well and consistently, will assist you in keeping and growing relationships with your customers. Continue reading →

You can start new business without irking parent

Imagine that you?ve developed a successful line of business for the company you work for. But a question gnaws: Could you better serve your customers on your own by spinning off and starting your own business?

Minnesota has a long history of start-up companies spun off established large corporations, such as 3M, Medtronic and Best Buy. As a small-business banker and economic development official, I?ve observed many spin-offs and one thing seems clear: The successful ones follow a careful planning process that forces the entrepreneur to think through new issues and map a course of action.
Continue reading →


'Never quit' Father says

This past Thanksgiving included a tribute by Earl ?Doc? Smith, president of EDS Consultants and Construction Managers Inc. in Lakeland.

At the family gathering, he read the winning nomination he wrote about his father, Lowery J. Smith, to enter the Upsize Lifeline Awards.

?Coming from someone with dyslexia, ?never quit? was quite a remarkable thing for a father to impart to his dyslexic son,? the nomination says in part. Continue reading →

Presenting 7 Lifelines

PRESENTING 7 LIFELINES Upsize presents special coverage in the opening pages of this month’s Informer: the seven winning pairs of the inaugural Upsize Lifeline Awards. Last fall Upsize asked business owners to share the best business lesson they’ve learned and to thank the person who taught it. Judges selected from nominations seven entrants based on […] Continue reading →

'You can't do everything'

?The day I was referred to Jean Hanson was the day my business gained momentum,? writes Teresa Thomas-Carroll, owner of the Purple Crayon Factory in Minneapolis. Continue reading →

'Sales angel' a must

At first, Judy Hoff wanted nothing to do with Frank Cesario.

Her company, Healthcare Academy in Henderson, had received assistance from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund, and part of the requirement to participate was a business assessment. Continue reading →

'Do your own sales'

To start her business, Willetta DeYoung had to shell out about $400,000 to buy special equipment to print on textiles.

?It?s like an oversized inkjet printer? that uses dye rather than ink, she says, ?but it?s huge. It?s 8 feet by 10 feet. It can print on fabrics up to 70 inches wide.? The printer is No. 15 of those sold in the United States, she says.
Continue reading →

'Step up to the plate'

People aren?t going to give things to you. You have to get them yourself. That?s the main lesson that Richard Brown says he learned from his parents.

?Step to the plate,? was the way his mother put it. Judith Brown is the founder of JNBA Financial Advisors in Bloomington, the financial planning and wealth management firm that Richard Brown took over about five years ago. Continue reading →

'Hold firm to core values'

John Meeker recently expanded his executive search firm, Meeker & Associates in Edina, into a new line of business.

He has a background in educational software at Control Data, and his main business is recruiting and placing managers and executives in education publishing, testing and technology companies. Most of his clients are on the coasts, where those industries are active. Continue reading →

'Remember to say thanks'

When Jeff Prouty was preparing to run his first marathon, the Paris Marathon, last April, he knew it would be tough.

Mike Felmlee, CEO of his company and an experienced marathoner, told him when he hit the difficult mile 20 he should think about an important person in his life, then think about another one at mile 21, then a third at mile 22, and so on to 26.2 miles. Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

?Like most entrepreneurs, you think you have all the answers,? said Richard Schulze, star of the show to dedicate the gorgeous new hall that bears his name at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

He?s the chairman and founder of Best Buy Co. Inc., which started as one store in 1966 and is now an empire of electronics retailing. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

‘It’s not about you’ if key staff goes to Iraq Continue reading →


Firms enlist computers to aid employee, customer training

For years the only point of contact between a computer and a company trainer came via the PowerPoint presentation.

And what a passionless marriage it was.

Thousands of employees can attest to their boredom during such company-mandated courses as safety training and sexual harassment prevention. No matter how compelling the topic, or how vital the knowledge to their jobs, human nature dictates that people won?t always pay rapt attention to a stranger clicking through screen-projected slides. Continue reading →