May 2007

Cover Story

Upsize Stages: Dealing with failure takes time.

Going out of business is never fun, but life doesn?t end when you do. So give yourself time to mourn. Nobody likes to be defeated. Businesses are like children to entrepreneurs and their demise can hit hard. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: What to expect in bankruptcy court.

Almost 90 percent of small businesses that try to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code ultimately fail, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: How to deal with an investors? haircut.

The best way to avoid giving your investors a haircut, otherwise known as reducing the value of their equity, is to practice good planning upfront. Be conservative with your projections and run a tight ship after you open your business. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: How to get through a loan workout.

If your situation is tough and you?ve fallen behind or gone into default on your loans the process for reversing that can be painful, but it can also be survived. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: Watch out for the bad actors.

Whether it?s turnaround management, filing bankruptcy or providing accounting advice, there are many bad apples masquerading as experts in their respective fields. And when you are taking the time and money to fix your company?s misfortunes, that isn?t the time to run across those people. So it?s extremely important to find reputable people to help you through the work. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: How to decide when it is over.

Once you?ve started working with a turnaround specialist you?ll create a short-term plan for turning the business around. Whether you?ll succeed in the long-term is a function of time, capital, internal resources and whether you have a business that has a viable value-added service or product in your market. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: Figure out whether this company can be saved.

When a small business is struggling, it is often difficult for the owner to determine what must be done to turn it around ? or whether the company is even salvageable. The business is that entrepreneur?s baby and the owner might be too close to find a solution. Of the owner might begin taking chances, digging into personal resources, taking out mortgages or putting personal assets on the line to save something that will end up a casualty. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: Reach out to people who can help you

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when their businesses start to go south is adopting a bunker mentality. Going quiet will scare trade creditors, banks and other players who truly want to see ? and can often help ? the business succeed. Instead of ignoring those phone calls, business owners need to further embrace the bankers, accountants and lawyers they?ve been using as a roundtable of advisers even more tightly when things go bad. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: Evaluate where your company is.

Depending on the industry in which your business is involved, the indicators will differ. So the first thing a business owner should do is make a list of the indicators that will determine the future of the business. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: How to turn around a distressed company

Upsize Stages is a series of guides detailing how to operate businesses at distinct stages in their life cycle. This is the first guide to be published, Upsize Stages Turnaround: How to revive a distressed business.

Small-business owners tell Upsize that handling troubled times is one of their biggest challenges, yet when problems arise it?s not easy to know what to do or who can help. This guide is intended to succinctly help companies with all facets of the challenge, and introduce them to local experts who can act as trusted resources.

Upsize reporter Andrew Tellijohn interviewed sources to prepare the articles, including business owners who have executed a turnaround successfully accountants, attorneys, bankers and other financiers who specialize in helping companies through refinancings, workouts and bankruptcy court and management consultants whose business is turnarounds. Contact information for major sources is at the end of the guide.

The guide includes excerpts from Q&A interviews with experts in the field of turnaround management. Hear the full podcasts by clicking on the Upsize How-to Audio link to the left and the expert?s name. Continue reading →

Upsize Stages: Structure your company correctly.

While entrepreneurs have dreams of success, they also must take into account what happens if things go awry. The best way to make sure one?s personal assets won?t be at risk in a turnaround is to plan for exit options before opening your doors.

Write a complete business plan. Create a group of advisers that includes an accountant, a lawyer, a banker and maybe potential vendors from the industry. Work with them to determine whether the business should be a sole proprietorship, a corporation or some other entity. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor

yes and no

She?s the person who runs the numbers, assesses the risk. He?s the one who always says yes. Together, the husband-and-wife owners of Dino?s Greek fast-food restaurants demonstrate the beauty that can be found in a business partnership. Continue reading →

Back Page

Revisiting 10 business owners on what it’s like to run a business

For biggest understatement from a Back Page subject in 2006 and so far in 2007, the award goes to Dick Schulze.

The chairman of Best Buy Co. Inc. in Richfield, quoted above and featured in this space in November 2006, has built much more than a company of ?short, successful duration.? Continue reading →


Upsize Primer: Commercial Real Estate

Most people he asked told Michael Lacey that moving a business was a year-long process. After a bum start burned precious time, the CEO of Digineer Inc. had six months left on his lease and a decision to make. Should he stay or should he go for it?

?I?m a stubborn, bullheaded business owner, so we went ahead,? Lacey says. The months that followed were a hectic blur that could generously be described as a series of unfortunate events. Employees of the fast-growing company ended up enduring not one, but three moves.

What Lacey and so many others have discovered is that moving requires larger doses of time, patience, planning, energy, money and luck than most people would ever guess. ?It was a wonderful learning experience,? he says wryly. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Set policies, then choose products, so work can happen anywhere

How do you want to work?
This is the first question that business owners and employees should ask themselves when considering the future demands of business and life. Continue reading →

What’s that you say? How to write core messages

Not long ago I met with the CEO of Lighthouse1, a local health-care software company. I asked him what kind of message he wanted to deliver to his primary target audience. Without hesitation, he responded: "We're going to revolutionize the consumer-driven health-care industry." Continue reading →


First the bad news: Some of the negative critiques of Microsoft?s new operating system, Vista, have some basis in reality.

Vista will slow operations on older computers by up to 30 percent. Other complaints that it is difficult to install Vista as an upgrade on PCs currently running Windows XP appear to be true for many computers, primarily because the new operating system is hardware intensive. (Think multi-core processors ? Core 2 Quads, as well as Core 2 Duo, are a couple of the ?techno? buzzwords for the type of processor, increased RAM and more powerful video cards that are required).
Continue reading →


Two-minute meeting

Amy Langer has had many mentors. From CPA and business partner John Folkestad to her classmates in the FastTrac program at the University of St. Thomas, she said many people have helped her get where she is today.

Her classmates at St. Thomas helped her set goals and prepare for situations she didn?t anticipate when starting SALO LLC (www.salosearch.com), she said. They also reminded her to ?start behaving how you want to be rather than how you are.? Continue reading →

Growth Challenge: Matter of Africa

The publishing industry practically sets up independent publishers for failure, says Paul Dixon, president and co-owner of Matter of Africa America Time Corp., in Minneapolis. It?s one of three winners of this year?s Upsize Growth Challenge. Continue reading →

Growth Challenge: Sociale Make & Take Gourmet

Jason and Lisa Hake are busy. Really busy.

Like most entrepreneurs, this husband-and-wife team are trying to run the day-to-day operations of their Minneapolis-based meal preparation company, Sociale Make & Take Gourmet, in addition to marketing, sales and strategic planning. Sociale is one of three winners of the Upsize Growth Challenge 2007. Continue reading →

Growth Challenge: IntelAccount

IntelAccount?s leaders have ambitious plans for their two-year-old automated accounts payable service, which they say can cut the cost of paying bills by as much as 70 percent. Continue reading →


‘Green’ furniture gets popular, buyers and sellers agree

Companies have long regarded green as the color of money. More recently, it?s also become the color associated with eco-friendly business practices ? including the use of office furniture made from recycled or renewable materials.

The green or sustainable office furniture market makes up less than 1 percent of the overall $13 billion pie, but it?s growing fast, say local dealers. Continue reading →