Jan
19
Minneapolis

November 2006

Cover Story

Elbow room

Peter and Paul Taunton were eating breakfast one morning before class at St. Cloud State University when they decided the college life wasn?t suiting them. They went home and told their parents they had decided to move to Florida for a change of pace ? and a professional racquetball league.

Their parents, Peter says, weren?t thrilled when they heard the news. But the Taunton brothers, twins and the youngest of seven siblings, had always been good kids. They?d also been working in their father?s grocery store since they were 10 years old, so they knew how to put in an honest day if they needed money to get by.

Peter and Paul have always gotten along well, but they were extremely competitive. They played against each other regularly on the tour, roughly splitting their matches, Peter says. When they played as doubles partners, they were at one time ranked second in the country.

The brothers spent a little more than a year traveling along the southern United States playing competitively. But becaracquetball didn?t pay that well, Peter worked at a health club in Florida to help make ends meet. The experience would prove invaluable. In 1982, after a year on the road, the owners of the gym he frequented back home called him with an offer he couldn?t refuse. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor

Lifeline

It?s time for all business owners to stand up and thank their lifeline.

You know who I mean: that crucial person you call whenever a crisis or a triumph hits your business.

We?re proud to announce a call for nominations for the second annual Upsize Lifeline Awards. That?s the unique celebration designed to emphasize the role that mentors, advisers, confidantes and champions play in the life of every growing company. Continue reading →

Back Page

How founder Dick Schulze moved out of the way so Best Buy could grow

Fresh from a meeting about educating entrepreneurs with the dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Business, Dick Schulze relates what he?s learned while building the Best Buy Co. Inc. empire, the world?s largest consumer electronics retailer, which he started with one store. He believes many entrepreneurs themselves are what keep their companies from growing. Continue reading →

Focus

Upsize Primer: Stress-busters

Like it or not, each small-business owner has a silent partner: stress.

Stress ? that fight-or-flight hormonal holdover from humanity''s prehistoric years ? can spur owners to accomplish tasks more efficiently. Its presence is necessary, even healthy, experts say, to succeed in life and work.

But it can also undermine our efforts. The problems begin when there''s too much stress, and too few breaks from it. Signs that stress has taken a toll include headaches, tense muscles and indigestion ? all of which owners can hide to suffer in silence. When stress causes owners to get moody or lose focus, that''s when damage to one''s business can be wrought. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Trade shows

Looking for a quick way to make an impact in a new town or marketplace? You might be thinking trade show. Continue reading →

Human resources

Most people agree that one constant of successful companies is a loyal, motivated group of key employees.

Who are these key employees? They behave much like you, the owner. They typically ask for more challenges and opportunities. They want to prosper and grow as the company does. Continue reading →

Disaster planning

If you were to ask a dozen CEOs for their definitions of business continuity, you?d very likely get a dozen different answers. That?s not to say that the practice of business continuity is misunderstood ? just not well understood in the small- to midsized business world.

It is pretty safe to say that most of us don?t have the resources (time, human or financial) to allocate to intense business process scrutiny, development of detailed ?what-if? scenarios and implementation of anything that takes focus away from our core business. Continue reading →

Health benefits

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have been getting a lot of coverage in the press, and many people are curious about what they are, how they work and whether your company would benefit. Here?s a rundown.

An HSA is an account established at a bank or similar institution that holds money earmarked for the payment of health-care expenses. Money contributed to an HSA can be invested and grow tax-free, and distributions may be taken tax-free for eligible medical expenses. Continue reading →

What business bloggers can and can’t do

Business Web logs, or ?blogs? as they are more commonly known, are an increasingly popular way to reach your consumer audience and stay ahead of your competitors. And ?increasingly popular? might even be an understatement. GigaBlast, a popular search engine, currently tracks nearly 11 million blogs. Continue reading →

Marketing

What's the difference between strategic marketing and tactical marketing?

Metaphorically speaking, strategic marketing is your compass heading and destination. Tactical marketing is all the controls you have at your disposal to steer and propel your ship along the way. Continue reading →

Interviewing

Wanted: Light-footed dance partner who can lead as well as follow a cue. Should possess the ability to stay one step ahead in a conversation. Ideal candidate will have detailed knowledge of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-recommended practices for interviewing and hiring. Ability to use intuitive skills is a plus. Continue reading →

Stop blame game! It’s time to take responsibility

Twin hurricanes just over a year ago dampened the general economy and punctuated the critical need for disaster preparation. They also fostered a flurry of fingerpointing among local, state and federal government. Continue reading →

Getting to done: How to manage projects successfully

?A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected; a well planned project only twice as long as expected.?

Don?t laugh. In too many cases, its true! After years of being committed to delivering software on time and on budget, our customers have reassured us that finishing on time is the exception. No matter what your industry, my strong hunch is that the same is true for you. Continue reading →

Informer

Retail

?We just look at life a little bit different,? says Steve Schussler, CEO of Schussler Creative Inc. in Golden Valley and the creator of Rainforest Cafe. ?It?s not that normal for people to go this far.?

He?s pointing out the twirling whirligigs on the high ceiling of the office/showroom space, the giant dino statue with a crown, the hundreds of photographs on the entryway walls, the Mickey Mouse statue, and so many other geegaws that it?s difficult to take in. Continue reading →

Media

You may have seen the wacky ads in Upsize: ?Can your Website do this?? one asks. The visual is a circus performer, complete with fishnet stockings and legs over her shoulders. Continue reading →

Finance

?Tomorrow we?re having our big boat party to celebrate getting rid of our investors,? said Brian Van Nevel, reached just before Labor Day.

He?s co-CEO, with Steve Lowenthal, of Spectrum Commercial Services, an asset-based lender in Bloomington. The company makes ?commercial loans to non-bankable businesses,? is how he describes it. Continue reading →

Technology

The second generation is taking over their parents? operation, Minnetonka Orchards, even though only one sibling lives in town.

?We have people from all over the country trying to run this family business. My brother in Seattle can log in. My sister?s in Texas. We just go to the wiki,? says Jay Schaper, general manager, who lives in the Twin Cities but often dials in to work from his home office. Continue reading →

Education

Local tech entrepreneurs, be advised: If you get a call from Mike Porter, call him back to contribute to his new research project.

Porter wants to learn from local tech entrepreneurs how they find their angel investors. The president of Sopra Voce Communications in Bloomington, he is launching a research project to be the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation. Continue reading →

Dear Informer

‘Trouble’ could be something good, Informer learns DEAR INFORMER: I read an article about asset-based lending, but isn’t that only for companies in trouble? DEAR UNTROUBLED: As Bill Clinton might have said, it depends on what the definition of “trouble” is. “The businesses I deal with are in some kind of trouble,” agrees Brian Van Nevel, co-CEO […] Continue reading →

2-minute meeting

Matt Blair’s Mulligans help duffers for a price at Homeward Bound event By Beth Ewen and Cory Johnson Former Vikings player Matt Blair was selling Mulligans to raise money for Homeward Bound, at its 11th annual Homeward Bound Golf Classic in August. For $20 a pop, he’d let players use his shot instead of theirs […] Continue reading →

Trade shows

Looking for a quick way to make an impact in a new town or marketplace? You might be thinking trade show.

No doubt, it can be a big commitment to exhibit at a trade show. When you consider exhibit space fees, display expenses and time out of the office for you and your staff, the expenses are considerable. Continue reading →