February 2007

Cover Story

Small world

A memorable TV commercial from the holiday season shows hungry shoppers spinning like Busby Berkeley showgirls in a kaleidoscopic cafeteria. Without missing a beat, each pays for a meal by swiping a Visa check card ? except for one man who puts a snag in the well-oiled production line when he gives the cashier a handful of dollars.

The ad exaggerates what most consumers have begun noticing over the past couple of years: plastic payment options are taking over in-store and online financial transactions. Paper checks are becoming scarce. Cash can be cumbersome. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


?I feel happy. I feel healthy. I feel terrific,? we shouted, all 250 of us, at the behest of Dave Anderson, founding chairman of the Famous Dave?s restaurant chain.

And then louder, he urged, so we bellowed: ?I FEEL HAPPY. I FEEL HEALTHY. I FEEL TERRIFIC.? Continue reading →


Banking & finance: give & take

Upsize invited finance experts from both sides of the table?those lending or investing the money, with their customers seeking and using it?to discuss the best ways to access capital. The result was a revealing discussion in December, the edited version of which follows. Continue reading →

Cover story: Help wanted

Minnesota small-business owners are again feeling optimistic about the upcoming year, according to results from Upsize Minnesota?s second annual small-business outlook survey.

But as unemployment rates go down and more qualified workers find jobs, owners are concerned about the shrinking size of their labor pool as they begin 2007.

Polled in early November, right after the midterm elections, 84 percent of respondents said they expect revenue to increase next year ? almost identical to last year?s 85 percent. Their rosy outlook outshined that of their national peers results of an Administaff survey showed 70 percent of small businesses planned to exceed their 2006 growth levels. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Human resources

When you hear the word ?leader,? what pops into your head? If you are like most people, the first image that comes to mind is a powerful, charismatic person doing something dramatic ? such as a military officer leading troops in battle, or an inspirational speaker rallying a group to action. Continue reading →

Secure your laptop! Seven steps to safeguard data

While riding the light rail on a cold morning a few weeks ago, I noticed many of the passengers were business commuters toting laptops and other portable electronic devices. Continue reading →

Best ways to select and protect your brands

Brand names have a significant impact on consumers? purchasing decisions. A well-developed brand conveys messages that are experienced by the consuming public well in advance of the purchasing decision. Continue reading →

Exit strategies

What are the steps a seller should take to find a buyer for the business? Continue reading →



They?re making molds for concrete retaining walls these days, complete with artistic detailing, in the shop at Art-Tech Productions in Minneapolis.

The molds share space with other projects: trade show backdrops for Manhattan Toy Co., sets for Lorie Line?s shows. Continue reading →


Darlene Miller, CEO and president, wants to increase Permac Industries? business from medical companies to more than 25 percent in the next year or two, up from under 10 percent now. Continue reading →

Access to data is boon from
WindLogics’ sale to FPL Energy

Mark Ahlstrom, CEO, was still adjusting in December to new strictures since he sold WindLogics in September to FPL Group. Continue reading →


Sustained profitability is the mantra at Compellent Technologies, says CEO Phil Soran, co-founder of the four-year-old Eden Prairie data storage company.

That?s because he plans to take the company public ?in the near future,? meaning when the time is right during the next year or two. Continue reading →


?I knew I wanted to raise a lot of money for breast cancer. I wanted to raise $10 million a year. That means 50 stores,? says Barbara Hensley, founder of Hope Chest for Breast Cancer.

It?s a retail store that sells high-end donated goods, and in turn donates a percentage of the revenue to a foundation dedicated to funding breast cancer research. Donations come in separately to the foundation as well. Continue reading →


A new song commissioned by Spoken Impact is striking a nerve among customers and clients. ?I Hate Public Speaking,? it?s called, and its local writer and performer Barbara McAfee cites the all-too-familiar Continue reading →

Dear Informer

Consider elements of local success before expanding Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

‘Advancing a mission’ is reason to serve, sayWomen on Boards panelists Continue reading →


State ramps up audits for sales and use tax

The state of Minnesota is auditing more small businesses as it tightens its enforcement of sales and use tax laws, say local certified public accountants. Companies that haven?t yet been audited may be ? soon. Continue reading →