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Wait Training: Soaring Into the Next Chapter

Junita Flowers is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, mom and the owner of Favorable Treats. With more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, she spent her career advocating for families and leading social change initiatives. Junita is starting a blog series with the Hill, called ‘Wait Training’. Over her career, Junita has learned the value of “waiting” with her business and is looking forward to sharing her experiences.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Four decades plus five additional fingers, made me pause and ponder, what’s next for me as an entrepreneur. My previous chapter as an entrepreneur was all about strengthening my current business foundation and doing the work in preparation for take-off. My next chapter…I’m ready to soar!

There is so much life and opportunity in creating the next chapter. It’s an opportunity to learn from and build upon the past, with the freedom to create the future.

My next chapter opens with the excitement and vulnerability of managing a growth cycle in my business. Managing business growth is hard, it’s exhausting and often times, absolutely terrifying. While there are many external factors that can complicate the business growth process, the biggest obstacle can often be the entrepreneur themselves. From making the wrong hiring decisions to being temporarily sidelined by fear, we can get in our own way of achieving the success we’re working so hard to accomplish.

As I create new systems, manage growing pains and execute my growth plan, here are five simple strategies that I use to get out of my own way and soar.

  1. Believe – One of the key foundational principles of my business journey is to believe in myself, my vision and my process. I can tell you, before the resources accumulate, the people gather and the business flourishes, I had to believe that I was creating something bigger than myself.
  2. Find your people, grow your team – We’ve all heard it said a million and one times over…you cannot be successful on your own.  Asking for assistance and widening my circle of supporters has by far added the most value to my growth personally and professionally, and has been the overall success of my business. As I continue to form new relationships and add to my team, the process becomes manageable and my impact dramatically increases.
  3. Measure, Manage, Maximize – I have found these three factors vitally important in every phase of my business journey. While these three factors will look different at various stages in business, creating a system that measures results, manages the growth process and maximizes output, puts a business on a successful growth trajectory.
  4. Face your fears – Here’s what I know for sure: growth and advancement only happen on the other side of fear. Facing fears head-on and devising a plan of action allows me to consistently move beyond limitations and expand the possibilities.
  5. Soar – I’ve built the foundation. I’ve invested the time. I’ve secured and managed my resources. It’s time to live it out. It’s time to soar.

As I share my growth process and lessons learned from my journey as an entrepreneur, I would love to hear from you. “Click here” to send me a note and share how my business journey inspires you to share your journey. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

You can read more about Junita Flowers on her website at favorabletreats.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

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Shop Talk: NAICS and SICs

If you’ve taken a stab at industry or market research, chances are you’ve come across NAICS and SICs. When used to your advantage, these code systems are handy ways to search across multiple database and search platforms to achieve targeted results. They were created as a way to classify industry areas with the purpose of collecting, analyzing and publishing data relating to the economy.

SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes have been around since 1937, and appear as a 4 digit number that represent an industry. NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) is a newer system, established in 1997, and will show up as a 6 digit number that will help you find extremely targeted information. NAICS codes were developed to replace SICs, but you can search via both systems in most business databases.

Most business databases will allow searches via NAICS and SICs, which is helpful because each database uses its own distinctive terminology and classifies information in a different way. Using your unique industry code will help you cut through the information faster, and saving time is in everyone’s interest.

While we love using NAICS and SICs to search quickly, they are not for every situation – like searches that span across multiple industries. For this situation, the researcher will want to use other factors like company location, size or annual revenue to help narrow down their search.

For the DIY business researcher, the simplest way to find your NAICS code is through a web search for your industry name (or description) and “NAICS,” which will generate your code. For a detailed, browsing list, try the US Census Bureau for the official list. Librarians are also available to help navigate through the search process at the Hill, which is a great reason to visit us for an appointment!

 


Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library our our historic collection at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Seeking a Healthy Snack, She Founded a Business

Each month the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently we connected with presenter Angela Gustafson. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on November 4, 2017.

In 2015, the Food Marketing Institute asked U.S. consumers how they would rate the healthfulness of their diets. The findings stated that 71 percent of U.S. shoppers believed their diets could be healthier.

Having access to healthy options that are both high in quality and taste is not always easy. However, Angela Gustafson was dead set on creating a healthy option for her family. Little did she know how it would translate to helping fill a consumer need. After experimenting in her kitchen for over a year, Gustola Granola was born. With loads of passion and creativity she stepped in the world of food entrepreneurship and hasn’t looked back.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Angela Gustafson
Age: 48
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Iowa City, Iowa
High school attended: John Marshall High School, Rochester, Minn.
College attended: UW Madison

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Gustola Granola
Website:www.gustolagranola.com | @gustolagranola
Business Start Date: June – October 2013 (produced out of home kitchen for Linden Hills Farmers Market); June 2014 (re-started in a commercial kitchen, producing for retail store shelves)
Number of Employees: 1 (me) plus one husband, four kids and a local dream team.
Number of Customers: 200 retail locations and online sales through our website

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I worked at Hy-Vee in high school and was quickly drawn to branding and packaging. I majored in marketing at UW, and fell in love with co-ops, farmers markets and Birkenstocks. I served in the Peace Corps as a small-business development volunteer with my husband on the Dominican Republic-Haiti border from 1994-1996. I lived and worked downtown, in the great city of St. Paul, out of college and post-Peace Corps. With our third child on the way, I took a break from Corporate America. I found myself trying to find or create the “best” recipe for everything. I took inspiration from both my mom and mother-in-law, both great cooks and in cooking for my own family of six. Then I hit upon a great one … like most of us do. Took it to a farmer’s market … like fewer of us do. It was just supposed to be a fun summer adventure.

Q. What is your business?
A. Gustola Granola is a Twin Cities-based, premium packaged granola company. Gustola Granola is a premium, knock your socks off, super crunchy, home-made tasting, satisfying anytime, anywhere, different-from-all-of-the-rest granola.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I lean on my husband for wisdom and my kids for youthful optimism. I also lean on Minnesota’s tight network of food entrepreneurs. I have oversight of production and distribution, marketing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, customer service, fulfillment, etc. It’s a great way to have a pulse on all aspects of the business, but I look forward to the day when I have more resources.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Rocky (our boxer) and I run early every morning. When I get home, kids start waking up and the bustle is on. I think more than anything, I was looking for a sustaining, healthy, post-run snack, to power me through busy mornings … as well as fill the house with those magical smells. Not crazy about available options in the stores, I started tinkering with granola at home…READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org.

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Dear Investors, Entrepreneurs Spell Love “ T-I-M-E”

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in Minnesota.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

Dear Investors, Entrepreneurs Spell Love “ T-I-M-E”:
The keys to becoming a prolific angel investor

Angel investors are an integral portion of the early stage funding community!

Who makes a good or bad angel anyways? Traditionally, this boils down to two things:

  1. Good Angels are great for seed money.
  2. Bad angel are great for money and additional headaches.

Return on investment VS community development

Think of angel investing as a means for community development. By helping small businesses succeed in your community, you help create jobs, wealth and help make your community more sustainable!

Money is great! It’s the crucial first step, but that’s not it. The truth is…

Giving entrepreneurs money does NOT buy you access, its only a small part of the equation. Yes, you need it and when you want it you want it badly and you care at that moment. But a year later when you succeed, you’ll clearly remember which investors helped along the way. Support is just as crucial as a financial investment because entrepreneurs spell love T-I-M-E.  Did you spend time in making the necessary intros, were you a great sounding board etc.

Most investors (including VC’s) are not well acquainted with that reality or they have a reality of their own that makes it hard for them to spend that type of time. What will end up happening is the company will do worse, and your deal flow will dry up because surprise, surprise: founders talk to each other.

The role of an angel investor?

  1. Don’t worry about the mechanics — especially if you are starting out. Valuations don’t matter especially in the early stage. The whole point is to be helpful enough to get the company to the next milestone so they can raise more money!!
  2. Be decisive — don’t “strategically” string founders along. Make up your mind quickly and follow through.
  3. Do good. Once you invest in a company, all you should want to do is help it. Help people you haven’t invested in too. Just try to be helpful.

Conclusion

Instead of looking at angel investing as a form of high profits. Let’s change our perspective to looking at it as a way of giving back to our community.  That way, we’ll have more ownership which will lead to added value without the headaches.

For reference, check out this great article written by Paul Graham on becoming an angel investor.


You can tweet me @alecksonn or subscribe to my newsletter

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Culinary Artistry

The Hill is fortunate to be supported by great organizations that believe in our mission to connect business, entrepreneurs and community.  These Minnesota staples are some of the long standing business making this state great. Envision Catering is one of those unique and dynamic institutions. The Hill Center is pleased to have them not only as a vendor, but as exclusive food sponsor for their upcoming 2017 gala. We had the opportunity to chat with Director of Hospitality, Alana Koderick about what makes Envision different.  

When and how did Envision Catering begin?
Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1940 and backed with 77 years of experience, our chefs at Envision Catering & Hospitality have been presenting unmatched, award-winning culinary artistry that delivers not only creative and delicious meals, but a noteworthy experience as well.

What do you want people to know about Envision and what sets you apart?
We skillfully showcase our food artistically and offer innovate menus that can be customized for each individual event. We listen to our clients ideas and dreams and we make them reality. We work hard and take pride in continuing our heritage of being the BEST caterer in the Twin Cities. We serve Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas.

The older generation may know us as Prom Catering, a company renowned for its legacy and experience in serving the Twin Cities with delicious food options. When people think of Prom Catering, the iconic Prom Ballroom in St. Paul, is one of their first memories. A legacy created by the Given family that began in the 1940s and has continued to grow. We have a commitment to excellence that has not wavered throughout the years.

What is Envision really great at?
“If you can Envision it, we can create it.” Our motto is carried throughout our menu design and event day presentation and execution. Grand, intimate, luxury or casual, our unique dining experience is grounded in the art of listening to our guests. We do not subscribe to a cookie cutter template. Instead we see each guest as an individual and each event as unique. We are proud of the highest level that our team performs at for each and every event.

What are you most proud of?
Sourcing local, hand designing each display and delivering a pleasant hospitality experience from start to finish, keeps our mission personal. Our all-inclusive service enlists our talented staff to design and execute menus for weddings, corporate events, and everything in between.

What has been the largest hurdle your organization has faced and what are steps you took to turn things around?
Our biggest hurdle has been re-branding from Prom Catering, which was so successful and recognizable in the Twin Cities for decades, to Envision Catering & Hospitality. We are a family owned company that carries and combines those seven plus decades of experience from Prom Catering to where we are now, which is a forward thinking company with a current team of individuals who are savvy to all the new culinary trends while still appreciating and recommending the the classic dishes that will forever be in style when appropriate.

What are your hopes for Envision’s future?
We want to be a leader in the banquet and catering business in our community and to continue to develop new revenue streams in this highly competitive market. We strive to develop the current talent in our kitchens and offices which will continue to help us to grow our business. Most of all we want to retain the trust that our clients have placed in us to make their event beautiful and memorable in a positive way. We have always treated our clients like family and we plan to continue that tradition for as long as we are in business.

For more information about Envision Catering & Hospitality visit their website or join the Hill Center for our 2017 gala “A Great Northern Evening” on Friday, October 27 and see Envision’s artistry in action.  Get your tickets now!

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A Legacy of Quality

The Hill believes it is important to profile not only startups and entrepreneurs but also some of the long standing businesses that make Minnesota unique. Surdyk’s has been a staple of our community for the past 80 years. The Hill Center is pleased to have them not only as a vendor, but as exclusive bar sponsor for our upcoming 2017 gala. We had the opportunity to chat with Catering Director Emily Dunne about their legacy of quality and the steps that got them where they are today. 

When and how did Surdyk’s Catering begin?
Surdyk’s is currently a 4th-generation family-owned and operated business. We’ve been making entertaining easy since 1934, holding the 11th Liquor License issued in Minneapolis after the repeal of Prohibition. Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop has long been considered the ultimate fine food and beverage destination in the Twin Cities, and in the past decade, we’ve expanded the brand into a wine bar at MSP Airport and a full-service food and liquor catering operation. It’s an exciting time of growth for this old business!

What do you want people to know about Surdyk’s and what sets you apart?
We’ve been in business for over 80 years. Needless to say, we’ve got a bit of experience selling and serving delicious things. Surdyk’s is best known for our incredible wine shelves, but a lot of folks don’t realize just how comprehensive the selection at our flagship store is. Whether you’re looking for a funky European cheese, the most obscure Mezcal, or the newest, hoppiest craft beer, our staff is passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to help. You just can’t get that on Amazon. If I had to define the essence of Surdyk’s, it would be that over the course of 80 years, we’ve always taken pride in providing great products and a great customer experience. We believe these two go hand in hand.

What is Surdyk’s really great at?
We are really great at making entertaining easy and approachable. Surdyk’s Catering was born out of a desire to make our superb products and equally superb service accessible to the Twin Cities events market. The formula is simple: great food, great drink, and great service are the ingredients for a perfect event. Our team supports every client every step of the way, from the first phone call to the final clean up. We believe this level of service would not be possible without a genuine, insatiable love of food and drink running through the veins of every single team member.

What are you most proud of?
I’ve been here since the inception of Surdyk’s Catering, so it’s safe to say that I’m proud of a lot. I’d have to say I’m most proud of our outright refusal to compromise on ingredients. A lot of companies have jumped on the farm-to-table bandwagon, but we’ve been doing this for decades. We source the best local, sustainably produced, organic ingredients available, and all of the food we serve is made from scratch in our kitchen. We work with as many local distilleries and breweries as we possibly can. We know our vendors. Maybe we don’t brag about that enough…

What has been the largest hurdle your organization has faced and what are steps you took to turn things around?
Growth is hard! I’ve always been a big advocate of responsible growth, which is even harder. We’ve had to build our team incrementally, which has meant a lot of long days and nights for me and my core team. That said, it is so exciting to finally recognize the moment we’ve “earned” the ability to hire for a new position. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished.

What are your hopes for Surdyk’s future?
I hope we can continue to build on the incredible legacy of quality associated with the Surdyk name. I want to make the owners proud. We don’t need to be the biggest or even the most popular catering company out there, but I hope at the very least to continue to grow this business to a point that people stop saying, “What? Surdyk’s does catering?!?”

For more information about Surdyk’s Catering visit their website or join the Hill Center for our 2017 gala “A Great Northern Evening” on Friday, October 27 and see Surdyk’s quality in action.  Get your tickets now!

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Door Number 6

If you’ve spent some time at the Hill, you may have noticed the 12 numbered rooms along the south wall of the building. These doors, while now office spaces and bathrooms, once served as study rooms that housed a myriad of researchers, authors and artists.

One such author by the name of Mr. Richardson B. Okie spent almost every day between the war years of 1938 and 1942 in study room 6. This particular study room is located on the mezzanine level, directly behind the large painting of James J. Hill on the Reading Room wall. Mr. Okie was a St. Paul-ite who took to study room 6 so well that he even came in on his wedding day.

We tracked down one of Mr. Okie’s published stories that showed up in the May 1941 edition of The Atlantic magazine, which was of course penned in study room 6. It’s an article called, “When Greek Met Greek. A Story,” which is a fictional account of whistling men recalling the tales of ancient Sparta.

The study rooms at the Hill harken back to a time when the book collection comprised of topics in every subject (with the exception of law, medicine, and fiction).  They supported the “serious researcher” that James J. Hill envisioned would be attracted to his library. While many of the original books that Mr. Okie would have poured over are now gone, we look to our Empire Builder collection on library floor “5” for our oldest titles – look for the bright green dots on the book spines to spot one.

Learn more of the story behind the Hill Center, these images and the epic building in our Cabinet of Curiosity Tour every third Thursday at 10:30AM. In this one hour experience you will go back in time, up and down catwalks, through vaults and peek in hidden nooks and crannies.  Our October tour is coming up so get your tickets early!


Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library our our historic collection at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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“Wait Training”: My Perfect Business

Junita Flowers is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, mom and the owner of Favorable Treats. With more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, she spent her career advocating for families and leading social change initiatives. Junita has learned the value of “waiting” during her years as an entrepreneur and business owner and shares her experiences with us each second Tuesday of the month.

This​ ​week​ ​is​ ​Twin​ ​Cities​ ​Startup​ ​Week​ ​and​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in​ ​full​ ​swing​ ​with​ ​all​ ​things entrepreneurship.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​made​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​to​ ​launch​ ​your​ ​startup,​ ​I’m​ ​pretty​ ​sure​ ​you have​ ​a​ ​well​ ​drafted​ ​business​ ​plan​ ​which​ ​details​ ​everything​ ​about​ ​your​ ​product​ ​or​ ​service,​ ​the daily​ ​operations,​ ​managing​ ​business​ ​finances​ ​and​ ​startup​ ​capital​, ​and​ ​you​ ​are​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​begin.

When​ ​I​ ​started​ ​my​ ​business, ​it​ ​was​ ​very​ ​important​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​know​ ​everything​ ​there​ ​was​ ​to know​ ​about​ ​building​ ​a​ ​sustainable​ ​and​ ​thriving​ ​business.​ ​I​ ​enlisted​ ​the​ ​assistance​ ​of​ ​a​ ​business coach​ ​to​ ​help​ ​draft​ ​my​ ​business​ ​plan.​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​countless​ ​hours​ ​researching​ ​success​ and failure ​stories​. ​I​ ​obtained​ ​memberships​ ​in​ ​various​ ​networking​ ​associations​ ​with​ ​a​ ​goal​ ​of creating​ ​new​ ​business​ ​relationships. I​ ​felt​ ​good​ ​about​ ​my​ ​marketing​ ​efforts​ ​and connection​ ​to​ ​my​ ​target​ ​customer​ ​base.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​armed​ ​with​ ​a​ ​plethora​ ​of​ ​case​ ​studies​ ​and research. ​I​ ​was convinced I would​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​typical​ ​business​ ​pitfalls​ ​of​ ​entrepreneurs before​ ​me​ ​and​ that ​I​ ​would​ ​successfully​ ​make​ ​it​ ​past​ ​the​ ​critical​ ​first​ ​three​ ​years.

One of the​ ​major​ ​things​  ​ ​I​ ​did​ ​not​ ​uncover​ ​in​ ​all​ ​of​ ​my​ ​planning​ ​and​ ​research​ ​was​ ​the​ ​reality​ ​that​ ​the main​ ​ingredient​ ​fueling​ ​my​ ​entrepreneurial​ ​drive​ ​might​ ​be​ ​the​ ​same​ ​ingredient​ creating​ ​my​ ​potential​ ​failure.​ ​​Tucked​ ​neatly​ ​inside​ ​my​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​succeed,​ ​my​ ​push​ ​toward excellence​ ​and​ ​a​ ​good​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​was​ ​the ever-so-positive-sounding,​ ​yet​ ​very​ ​destructive concept of – ​ ​perfectionism.

We​ ​live​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​that​ ​idolizes​ ​perfectionism​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is​ ​presented​ ​as​ ​the​ ​standard​ ​of performance​ ​for​ ​success​ ​as​ ​an​ ​entrepreneur.​ ​Perfectionism​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​a​ ​good​ ​business practice.​ ​It​ ​sounds​ ​like​ ​the​ ​description​ ​of​ ​a​ ​high​ ​achiever​, ​and​ ​I​ ​fell​ ​into​ ​the​ ​trap​ ​of​ ​waiting​ ​for perfection​ ​in​ ​many​ ​areas​ ​within​ ​my​ ​business.

But​ ​here’s​ ​what​ ​I​ ​learned…perfectionism​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fancy​ ​word​ ​for​ ​fear.​ ​Striving​ ​for​ ​perfection​ ​felt like​ ​a​ ​safe,​ ​yet​ ​lofty​ ​business​ ​goal.​ ​Perfection​ ​sounded​ ​as​ ​though​ ​I​ ​was​ ​operating​ ​at​ ​my​ ​best. Many​ ​times,​ ​I​ ​prolonged​ ​a​ ​potential​ ​business​ ​decision​ ​or​ ​sabotaged​ ​a​n​ ​opportunity​ ​by failing​ ​to​ ​move​ ​forward​ ​because​ ​perfection​ ​guided​ ​me​ ​toward​ ​stagnation​ ​and/or​ ​forfeiture.

Striving​ ​for​ ​excellence​ ​in​ ​business​ ​and​ ​waiting​ ​for​ ​perfection​ ​can​ ​seem​ ​very​ ​similar,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​had to​ ​quickly​ ​decipher​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​​​between​ ​the​ ​two.​ ​For​ ​me,​ ​striving​ ​for​ ​excellence​ ​comes from​ ​a​ ​place​ ​of​ ​gratitude​ ​and​ ​contentment.  I am grateful​ ​for​ ​the​ ​highs​ ​and​ ​lows​ ​peppered throughout​ ​my​ ​business​ ​journey.​ ​​ ​Perfection​ ​can​ ​often​ ​come​ ​from​ ​a​ ​place​ ​of​ ​lack​ ​and insecurity.​ ​Perfection​ ​creates​ ​the​ ​mindset​ ​of​ ​not​ ​having​ ​enough,​ ​never​ ​having​ ​enough​ ​and​ ​it sucks​ ​the life out.​

​Perfectionism​ ​can​ ​be​ ​overcome,​ ​but​ ​just​ ​like​ ​anything​ ​else​ ​worth achieving:​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​recognize​ ​it​ ​and​ ​then​ ​have​ ​a​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​overcome​ ​it. So ​as​ ​you​ ​prepare​ ​to​ ​launch​ ​your​ ​first​ ​business​ ​or​ ​scale​ ​your​ ​current​ ​business,​ ​ask​ ​yourself​ ​are you​ ​moving​ ​forward​ ​in​ ​excellence​ ​or​ ​perfectionism.


You can read more about Junita Flowers on her website at favorabletreats.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   In addition we are pleased to have Junita join us at the  James J. Hill Center on October 26th from 9AM to 10AM  as she moderates our TAKING THE LEAD panel discussion focusing on the complex and rewarding ecosystem of women entrepreneurs.  This month’s topic will be on the “Growth Strategies and Plateau Pains ” This program is free and open to the public.  

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Startup Tips from the Hill

In celebration of Twin Cities Startup Week 2017, the James J. Hill Center thought they would share their top 5 tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

  1. Find the best data and use it
    You need solid information and data to support your start-up, whether you are writing a business plan, researching venture capital or looking for business leads. A few hot tips: IBISWorld is the best database for industry information, PrivCo is your bet for hard-to-find private company information and SimplyAnalytics is perfect for demographic information that can be used to inform you on developing into new markets. You can find all of these databases at the Hill…and they are free to use.
  2. Learn from those who have traveled the same path
    At the Hill, we provide a lot of opportunities to do just that. Meet the Expert is a perfect example of a program that connects you with experts across fields of law, marketing, digital, business development and more. Find the missing link for your start-up in this speed-dating style program.
  3. Show up
    You’ve heard it before “the world is run by those who show up.” Try out a networking event or attend 1 Million Cups St. Paul. By showing up, you’ll get the double benefit of learning more about the start-up landscape in the Twin Cities, as well as an opportunity to share your dream and find those willing to support you along the way.
  4. Look for help from those who know
    Thinking about writing a business plan, starting a non-profit, or moving your product into a new market? Try our Database Deep Dive series to take the edge off the research. These free workshops occur twice a month and will offer the best tips and tricks to navigating our databases. We love to answer questions, so come ready to dig in!
  5. Remember you’re part of something bigger
    Chipping away at a new start-up can bring up a number of feelings, but isolation doesn’t have to be one of them. Consider us your new home-base for your business. The Hill is a powerful space ripe with a rich tradition of entrepreneurial wins. Come use our free Wifi, sit and work, bring your lunch or use our resources to build your dream. Do you think you are one of the “original thinkers” that James J. Hill wanted to attract to his library? We think so. Come in and give us a try.

Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Soft Skills Revolution: A Breath Away

Chris Carlson is an entrepreneur, actor, lawyer and the founder of NarrativePros dedicated to coaching stronger connections. Chris is setting the standard for soft skills training across the region and will be sharing his tips and tricks in our monthly blog Soft Skills Revolution. Come back the first Tuesday of each month and learn key steps to unleash your efficiency, effectiveness and maximize your input.

A Breath Away

There is so much in the world we have no control of. That’s why it’s always nice for me to remember that the greatest gift I can give myself, and others, is to just… breathe.

The practice of deep breathing is at the core of connecting with yourself in front of an audience. By the end of this post, you’ll be in on the greatest secret of successful performers and yogis alike.

The Pains in the…

By now, most of you know that I’m a speech coach. So it won’t come as a surprise if I trot out the fear of public speaking as a pain point (by the way, the latest poll has public speaking second to snakes).

In a bit I will cover the direct benefit deep breathing has on public speaking. First, I want to add some other pretty horrible pains most of us have faced in our life:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • depression
  • attention deficit disorder

Deep breathing has been shown to help with ALL of these.

Ancient Benefits We’re Catching Onto…

The primary benefit of deep breathing is its calming effect on the body.

People from cultures all over the world have practiced deep breathing for a millennia. How this works is only recently becoming clear to scientists according to an article in New York Times on Why Deep Breathing May Keep Us Calm. Isn’t it nice when science recognizing the benefit of something we’ve been doing all along?

The point is: breathing from your diaphragm calms your body down. And a calm body calms your mind.

The Nuts and Bolts

The key to deep breathing lies in understanding how we breathe. When I give workshops, I often ask everyone to take a deep breath in. I watch as chests heave and shoulders go up.

Many people assume since air goes into our lungs, that’s also what drives breathe. Close, but no cigar.

The diaphragm is a parachute-shaped muscle that sits under your lungs. That’s the muscle chiefly responsible for drawing in your breathe. Despite what my workshop attendees show me, it’s not the muscles around your chest.

The crazy thing is, you already “know” this. Everyone of us breathes quite efficiently when we don’t think about it. Watch someone who is extremely relaxed and you’ll see their belly move up and down more than their chest.

That’s because the diaphragm is contracting to pull in breath. The stomach and surrounding muscles get out of the way and expand outward. This is another reason most people don’t breath efficiently–people are vain. They are concerned about keeping their bellies tucked in.

Speakers, Listen Up…

Deep breathing does two important things for speakers. First, it calms them. Everyone gets nervous to some degree. Deep breathing stems the fight or flight reaction we get when we step in front of a crowd.

Second, deep breathing strengthens and supports a speaker’s voice. With adequate breath, a speaker can speak longer, louder and with greater range. You don’t have to be a performer or singer to benefit from more volume or a fuller voice.

You Can Do It!

Whether you’re a speaker or a stressed-out blog reader, you can start deep breathing now. There is nothing fancy or complicated about deep breathing. The process begins with an awareness of your breath.

  1. Put one hand on your stomach
  2. Put the other on your chest
  3. Take a deep breath in

Since you’re doing this, I will assume you are not familiar with deep breathing technique. This means that, probably, you felt your chest move as much or more than your stomach.

Here’s a cool trick I just found out while writing this: Google “deep breathing”. You should get a one-minute guided breathing exercise. I shouldn’t be too surprised since I read that Google teaches breathing to its employees.

Don’t believe me, though. Go Google it! And breathe…


Guest writer:
 Chris Carlson
Visit @NarrativePros for more information.

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