Posts Tagged ‘Business’

3 Tips for Growing Your Business During Tough Times

Monday, April 30th, 2012

3 Tips for Growing Your Businessby Caron Beesley, SBA.GOV

The idea of starting a business during a recession or growing a business during tough times may sound like the ultimate challenge for any entrepreneur or small business owner. Yet, time and time again, small businesses prove that with agility, planning, and the right resources, tough times aren’t just survivable – they can spur growth.

Take for example SBA’s 2011 National Small Business Person of the Year, Rick Cochran, whose Vermont-based Mobile Medical International (MMI), provides advanced medical care to underserved areas.

From humble beginnings in his basement, Cochran created a design and prototype for a mobile surgery unit and quickly expanded his market. Cochran hit a rough patch in 1999 when financing ran dry and the company nearly closed its doors. Much of Cochran’s core team – inspired by his own perseverance, optimism and faith – worked without pay. They were reimbursed later, when the company rebounded.

During his tenure in business, Cochran has benefited from the support of three SBA loans. Driven by his perseverance, today MMI’s staff has grown to 54 employees with gross revenues of more than $14 million.

Strategies for Growth in Tough Times

Independent strategies for survival and growth vary, but there are many common denominators and tactics characteristic of small business success during tough economic times. Here are a few strategies and tactics to consider:

1. Focus on Core Strengths

Diversification into new products and markets is a core growth strategy, but in tough times it usually pays to stick to what you do best and refine your business’ strengths in key product or market areas.

2. Find the Right Team

In order to grow, you’ll need the right team behind you, and you need to be lean. Finding the right talent the first time means that a smart hiring strategy should be part of your growth plan. Some Small business owners have the knack for identifying the right employee fit. Some don’t. Understanding the talents you need to help you grow can be challenging. Consider consulting a mentor – a business acquaintance or someone from a professional and free mentoring organization like SCORE. These folks have walked in your shoes and can help.

3. Look for Ways to Cut Costs

From buying used office furniture to moving back into the home office, savvy business owners can save money on just about everything. Here are just a few ideas:

- Market Smarter – Cut your marketing budget and develop a smart marketing strategy. Can you refine your online marketing plan and focus on using your Facebook page to grow and nurture your specific target demographic? If your business depends on local custom, consider more community marketing activities that will put your business in front of your target customers. Sponsoring charitable events in your community or setting up a fundraiser for a good cause can generate great exposure for your business.

Use technology, such as online videos, as a sales and marketing approach to replace expensive brochures and collateral. This blog is loaded with cost-effective tips and tactics that you can apply across your marketing efforts: A “Complete” Guide to Small Business Marketing (featuring the best of’s blogs).

Smarter marketing also means having more oversight over campaigns and programs with a view to return on investment. Don’t just let campaigns run their course; get more from your dollars by adjusting your tactics, segmenting your lists, and delivering targeted messages. Rieva Lesonsky’s guest blog explains how to Give your Marketing a Checkup.

- Cut Your Business Expenses – It sounds obvious, but a review of all your outgoing expenses can point the way to quick savings. Create a list of necessary expenses and optional expenses. Pay close attention to how your employees spend your money. Use plastic – it may sound contrary to a cost-saving plan, but credit cards can give you perks such as miles and other benefits. You can put limits on cards so employees can’t overspend.

- Automate Your Systems – Automating systems, such as accounting, invoicing and payroll, can save time and money. Here are some tips for doing that:

Setting up a Payroll System – A 10 Step Guide for Small Business
Going Beyond the Spreadsheet – Automate Your Billing Process with Online Software
Selecting the Right Accounting Software

-Use Technology Wisely – Cut back on business travel and other communication expenses by using free web conferencing tools like Skype. What about cloud computing? Migrating business functions online (or to the cloud) can realize big savings. Even your tablet computer can help you cut staffing costs! These blog posts offer more tips:

4 Ways Technology Helps You Run Your Business
How to Use your Tablet Computer as a Small Business Tool
Cloud Computing – What Can It Do for Your Small Business?

- Hire a Virtual Assistant – Virtual assistants are a low-cost way of handling business administration functions, freeing up your time, reducing staffing costs, and making sure you have the back-up you need to keep your business running smoothly.

- Buy Surplus – Can you save money on office equipment and electronics buying from eBay or buying government surplus?

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and by no means should replace or substitute other legal documents (governmental or non-governmental) reflecting similar content or advice. If you have any questions concerning your situation or the information provided, please consult with an attorney, CPA or HR Professional.

Knowledge Luncheon – How to Get the Most for Your Business When You’re Ready to Sell

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Sunbelt Midwest Presents…

Knowledge Luncheon – February 22nd, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • Increase your knowledge on how to raise the value of your business
  • Learn more about the tax consequences of selling a business
  • Get free advice on how to make your business more attractive to prospective buyers
  • Q&A after each presenter

We know how busy you are so we’ve scheduled monthly lunch events that you can attend at your convenience.  RSVP at least one day in advance and we’ll provide a light lunch and important knowledge related to buying and selling businesses.  Simply check for upcoming event topics that suit your interests.  Our local network of professionals including CPAs, attorneys, business owners and friends look forward to sharing experienced knowledge and lunch with you.

Event Host:

Matt Schroder
Sunbelt Business Brokers
1300 Goward Street, Suite 6300
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phone:  612-751-6868

Guest Presenters:

Dan Freeman, DS&B – Certified Public Accountants, Consultants & Advisors
Kevin Koepke, Koepke Law, Ltd.

Sunbelt Midwest Team

The next Knowledge Luncheon is being held at:
Star Bank – Eden Prairie
250 Prairie Center Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-7819

Also co-sponsoring this event:

Koepke Law Ltd
Inner Circle
InterActive Circle


DS&B – Certified Public Accountants, Consultants & Advisors

Daniel Freeman
222 S. 9th Street, Suite 3000
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: 612-630-5049

Innovation.  Not the typical term used to describe the Art of Accounting.  However, Dan is not your typical accountant.  Dan has gained 25 years of hard-nosed business experience managing over 900 employees as the Chief Financial Officer of a restaurant management company, business planner for a real estate and development company, and performing consulting services, audits, financial strategy, and litigation support for various clients.

As an advisor to all phases in the business life cycle, Dan has helped many clients through multi-generational transitions, succession planning, buy/sell agreements and acquisitions.

Dan has extensive industry knowledge spanning many client groups including: retail, restaurants, manufacturing, distribution, construction and real estate development.

Koepke Law, Ltd.

Kevin Koekpe
3161 Fernbrook Lane N
Plymouth, MN 55447
Phone: 763-201-1201

Kevin Koepke, an attorney for the past 20 years, is the founder and owner of Koepke Law, ltd.  Koepke Law is a Twin Cities law firm that works extensively in the areas of business sales, shareholder succession, litigation, mediation, buy-sell agreements and banking.

The firm’s team of attorneys and paralegal are committed to providing efficient legal services that are timely and cost-effective.

Sunbelt Business Brokers

Matt Schroder
Licensed Business Broker
Minnesota and Wisconsin
Phone: 651-288-1629

Matt is a top producer at Sunbelt, where he has been helping people buy and sell business for ten years.  He is a skilled negotiator, drawing on many years of experience in the business world.  Matt effectively uses his knowledge to educate clients and guide them through the sales process.  He is a licensed business broker in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Matt specializes in valuing business and putting together transactions that make it to the closing table.  His effective skills have earned him several Sunbelt Broker of the Year awards.  He has been involved in over 100 transactions in Minneapolis and St. Paul area and has sold both franchise and privately held businesses.

Prior to joining the Sunbelt team, Matt owned his own sales and distribution company.  As a business owner, he worked with numerous small business owners.  His diversified background includes extensive sales, marketing, financing and management experience.

Matt is licensed to sell businesses in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He is a member of Sunbelt Midwest, with two offices in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, helping people buy and sell businesses in Minnesota and the greater Midwest area.

To Attend:

Register online at or by contacting Andrea Rogge at 612-238-1288 or

Stay updated on this and other events by visiting where you an register online for this and other upcoming events.


Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and by no means should replace or substitute other legal documents (governmental or non-governmental) reflecting similar content or advice. If you have any questions concerning your situation or the information provided, please consult with an attorney, CPA or HR Professional.

Use Your Resources – SBA Website

Monday, January 30th, 2012

SBASince its founding on July 30, 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses.

Over the years, the SBA has grown significantly in terms of total assistance provided. and its array of programs have been tailored to encourage small enterprises in all areas. SBA’s programs now include financial and federal contract procurement assistance, management assistance, and specialized outreach to women, minorities and armed forces veterans. SBA also provides loans to victims of natural disasters and specialized advice and assistance in international trade.  All of these resources, and much more is available via the SBA website,

Working On Your Behalf

Advocacy The voice of small business on Capitol Hill since it was created in 1976, the Office of Advocacy works to protect, strengthen and represent the interests of the nation’s small businesses within the Federal Government.

Ombudsman If excessive fines, penalties, or unfair regulatory enforcement by federal agencies are problems for your small business, you have a voice in Washington, D.C., through SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman.

Inspector General The Office of the Inspector General conducts audits, investigations and other reviews to deter and detect waste, fraud and abuse in SBA programs and operations and to promote agency efficiency and effectiveness.

SBA Programs Small business is America’s most powerful engine of opportunity and economic growth. That’s where SBA comes in. SBA offers a variety of programs and support services to help you navigate the issues you face with your initial applications, and resources to help after you open for business.

Starting and Managing a Business

The SBA provides complete information which is segmented into three categories:

  • Thinking about starting a new business? Click here to access an assessment tool designed to help you better understand your readiness for starting a small business. It is simple to use and will take less than five minutes to complete. The tool will prompt you with questions and assist you in evaluating skills, characteristics and experience as they relate to your preparedness for starting a business.
  • Starting a Business? Click here to learn the aspects of starting a business, plus get the answers and information you need to startup.
  • Growing Your Business? Click here for help and advice about forecasting, technology, financing, franchising and many other ideas that can help you grow.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and by no means should replace or substitute other legal documents (governmental or non-governmental) reflecting similar content or advice. If you have any questions concerning your situation or the information provided, please consult with an attorney, CPA or HR Professional.