Do you have the next great business idea? Is your small business ready to move into the mainstream? If so, you probably know that business intelligence is key to making an informed decision about the next stage of your career. That means you’ll need to navigate the exciting world of business reference sources!
Getting started with your research can feel overwhelming. With so many websites, topics, and techniques to choose from, it can seem like doing research is more trouble than it’s worth. With a little guidance, however, you too can find the key facts to jump-start your business.
Here are 5 smart research tips from the James J. Hill Center:
1) Start with Broad Topics
It’s very tempting to search for the exact fact you want, but looking up “2010 household spending trends” might be counterproductive. By searching so specifically, you might miss a great article on that topic that doesn’t have your key words included. Instead, start with wide-ranging topics like “household income” and “domestic spending trends” to maximize your research results.
2) Limit your Date Range
When searching online or in the databases at the James J. Hill Center, pay attention to the date range on your results. You don’t want to build a pitch deck around an article on real estate trends only to find out it’s from 2002. Give yourself a range of two to five previous years to find the most recent information.
3) Use Synonyms
Is your search for “trade shows” coming up short? Remember, there’s many different ways to describe what you’re looking for, so brainstorm some alternate search terms. You may hit the jackpot when searching for “convention expositions” instead.
4) Combine Resource Types
Plenty of people are satisfied with a couple online searches, but true entrepreneurs go beyond Google. While some helpful information, such as the Economic Census or labor statistics, are freely available online, subscription databases can elevate your research process. The James J. Hill Center subscribes to a series of databases, such as IBISworld and Business Source Premier, that contain valuable information not available anywhere else. Stop in to use our resources on-site!
5) Ask for Assistance
Remember, research is a long, slow process, but it’s not something you need to handle alone. Make an appointment with a business librarian at the James J. Hill Center and let us connect you to the business information you need.
Written by Jessica Huffman, Business Outreach Librarian, at the James J. Hill Center. To meet with Jessica about your research needs, make a free appointment here. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 each month and learn key steps to unleash your efficiency, effectiveness and maximize your input.
We all want the real thing.
Nowhere is that more important than in communication. Whether you are in front of an audience or in an interview, the people you are trying to connect with want the real you. The quickest way to lose an audience is being inauthentic, fake or disingenuous.
The master communicators are able to bring much, if not all, of their real selves to their audiences. How do they do it? One way is to use feedback to draw and change the lines separating different versions of themselves. This empowers them to bring more of their unique personality to what an audience perceives. They are able to be real.
No, It’s Not About You
A speaker without an audience is like that tree falling in the forest with no one around. Pretty much nothing. Everything depends on the version of you the audience perceives and leaves with.
You can’t just stride up to the podium and say, “Alright, what would you like to talk about?” That’s not going to work too well. You have to bring something to the audience first. The connection between a speaker and audience must begin with the speaker. Audiences pay attention to get a return of interest.
Yes it is: The Real You
When you meet someone one, the most interesting thing you have to offer is yourself. Yes, I am sure you have great ideas, advice and insight. When you are face-to-face with someone those take a back seat to you as a unique human being.
Audiences want you to be real, to be yourself. They enjoy being around someone who doesn’t worry about what everyone thinks. That’s the trick, isn’t it? You care a lot about what the audience thinks. So it’s hard to act like you don’t care.
Well, let me tell you a little secret: They don’t know you. No one does. Not the “real” you.
An audience only ever sees a sliver of the “real” you. An important sliver. There’s enormous power in this.
No it’s not You: It’s the Audience You
Putting some distance between you and what the audience perceives gives you valuable space. That allows you to use feedback to shift your perspective. That shift is from the “real” you to what you could call the Audience You.
Your reflection in a mirror is an accurate representation of what you look like, right? It’s like there’s this other person looking back at you. Meeting that other person can be hard sometimes, but it’s what most people see–for better or for worse. Meeting this other person in the mirror shifts your perspective to the people looking at you. Feedback on performance introduces you to the Audience You.
And yet, the reflection in the mirror doesn’t define you. Neither does feedback. This is the critical last step to incorporating feedback: the Audience You doesn’t define real you. If everyone says that you bomb your speech, you haven’t bombed life. That kind of feedback tells you there’s a disconnect between the real you and the Audience You. If you’re going to speak again, work to close that gap.
Ask people what they think of the Audience You. Their feedback will shift your perspective. Encourage them to be specific and honest so you can get a good look at this reflection of you. Don’t forget to thank them and put it to work to make the audience you a more accurate reflection of the real you.
It will make a difference. Really.
Guest writer: Chris Carlson
Visit @NarrativePros for more information.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 email@example.com.
When it comes to finding a community that supports and empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses, look no further than the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. Nationally recognized as the place where business starts and thrives, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has the 4th highest concentration of small businesses in the nation, making it the 3rd “Best State to Start a Business” (Entrepreneur.com).
The area’s library systems have long been important resources to enriching life. A new video series called Libraries out Loud out of Kansas City explores how libraries are adapting to the needs of today, including finding ways to support local entrepreneurs. It is not much different in the Twin Cities where in a collaborative effort to support the growing entrepreneurial population, the James J. Hill Center provides resources complimenting the offerings at neighboring libraries.
The Hill often works together with Hennepin County Library and St. Paul Public Library to provide the best business information for entrepreneurs. This has always been part of the Hill’s mission. In our first year in business, head librarian Joseph Pyle explained in the 1921 Librarian Report, that James J. Hill intended for the library to “pick up where the public library ended,” which is exactly where our mission falls today. We fill in the gaps with our unique programs and resources.
On Monday, Aug. 21 from 5:30-7:30pm, Lindsey Dyer (JJHC), Erin Cavell (HCL) and Amanda Feist (SPPL) from our three area libraries will conduct a presentation called “Fill in the blanks of your business plan: getting started with research,” hosted by George Latimer Library. This presentation will share resources, tips and tricks to navigate the best that our metro libraries have to offer. SIGN UP NOW to join this informational free event.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the many interesting items one finds when combing the shelves of the James J. Hill Center’s library collection are several dozen book sets. Included are biographies; histories of places and events; personal papers of presidents, diplomats, explorers and businessmen; and government records. Publication dates reach as far back as the early 1800s (some before the birth of Mr. Hill himself).
The oldest? Sparks’s American Biography, a ten volume set originally published in 1834. It set out to include, according to its editor, “all persons, who have been distinguished in America, from the date of its first discovery to the present time,” with the hope that it “would embrace a perfect history of our country.” Though the more familiar faces of this early period of American history are absent, it sheds light on others who were believed important at the time. Beginning with John Stark, an American officer in the Revolutionary War, it tells of other early war heroes as well as physicians, inventors, engineers, and even a little-known signer of the Declaration of Independence. These individuals represent some of the most notable figures of the 18th and early 19th century, many whose lives began nearly three hundred years ago or more, and, perhaps, were those whom Mr. Hill might have admired or even emulated.
Written by Alex Ingham, Business Librarian, 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 email@example.com.
With some recent archival projects on our plate an article from MPR News caught the attention of Lindsey Dyer our Director of Library Services. “File this under nostalgia: New book pays tribute to the library card catalog“ shares information about a new book from the Library of Congress entitled, “The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures.” It celebrates catalogs “as the analog ancestor of the search engine.” Library of Congress author, Peter Deveraux, states that “There’s tens of millions of cards here. It’s a city block long.” This was a very timely article considering some of the historic catalog items we recently found here at the James J. Hill Center. Lindsey recently took some time to dig up and share a few iconic treats from the vault.
Lindsey: Card catalogs are indeed “cabinets of curiosities” as are the ways we have kept track of information over time. Librarians worked tirelessly to create calm in the chaos of information, cutting and pasting any relevant facts and tid-bits. Take these snapshots in time from the 1980s – gems of nostalgia for Gen Xers and older millennials. What research paper would be complete without the help of the card catalog?
At the Hill, business librarians had a special task of identifying and capturing industry trends – like how Nike is taking over the sneaker industry, or the rise in fax machine sales. While the methods have certainly changed (we aren’t cutting out and taping facts to cards, though I have to admit that sounds cathartic), we still aim to find the best industry information there is, combing databases (paid and free), and translating that information.
We have been, and always will be, an entrepreneur’s best resource!
Visit the James J. Hill Center and it’s reference library Monday through Thursday 10AM to 5PM and check out all of the current resources. Also, ask one of our business librarians for some assistance with a database and see what gems of knowledge you can find to build you business success.
We can’t officially wrap up National Library Week without reflecting on the week’s theme of transformation, and what that means to reference libraries like ours at the Hill Center.
When the value of a cultural institution is in question, it’s really the relevance of the institution that’s at stake. For reference libraries many times their relevance is translated into the number of visitors, number of clicks, and number of positive survey results – but even with this data, the impression of relevance can often times be missed. In order to truly understand relevancy, we need to understand our impact on a case-by-case basis and this is often times qualitative. We need to ask questions like – have we transformed to meet the real needs of our community? Are we providing an inclusive space to think differently, share ideas and take risks? These questions are hard to measure but at the Hill Center we have begun to see the results.
James J. Hill has played a pivotal role in introducing me to the start-up culture. From presenting at 1 Million Cups and attending its many thought-leader panels, I have richly benefited from the proactive resources and seemingly infinite networking opportunities” Entrepreneur
“The fact that I have this resource available to me, both the facility and research staff, is an absolute relief.”
According to IBISWorld, the Library industry forecasts a slow and steady growth in the next five years – whereas the online database and print book industries are forecasting a decline. This tells us that the nature of the traditional reference library is already transforming into new arenas. At the Hill, this means that beyond offering key business information, we don’t just rely on what we have – we rely on who we know – and what we can do.
At the Hill Center, we meet our community at every point in their entrepreneurial journey. Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or find yourself needing data to branch out into a new market – we have the “secret sauce” that will get you to the next level. What’s the recipe? We like to think our people make all the difference.
Being relevant isn’t just about having relevant information – it’s about having a welcoming space for ideas to fly. The Hill Center creates a space for meaningful engagement in our business community – and it shows. Come to a 1 Million Cups presentation on a Wednesday morning, and you will see the space transformed into a conduit for idea and talent sharing, and just sometimes that right connection to take your idea to the next level.
What I appreciate most about the Hill Center, is the continued commitment from staff to uphold the entrepreneurial spirit of our “founding father,” James J. Hill. The original entrepreneur, Hill didn’t take hard work for granted, and neither do we. We’re here to make that hard work a little easier for you, forging a path that will make a difference – and hard work is always relevant.
“Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then more work.” – James J. Hill
Composed by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center.
It you have more questions about the Reference Library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to management than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely the lukewarm defense in those who gain by the new ones.” – Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527), Philosopher and playwright
I recently ran across this quote by Niccolo Machiavelli at the Hill entrepreneurial center and would have thought it was written today. Not so, it shows that change has been a process of mis-acceptance for as long as man has innovated on new ideas.
I define innovation as the introduction of new and improved ways of putting ideas into action. In an economic sense, an innovation is accomplished with the first commercial transaction involving a new or improved product, process, or organizational business model. Innovation is then intentional attempts to bring about value from change. These values include; economic benefits, personal growth, increased satisfaction, improved group coherence, better organizational communication, as well as productivity and economic measures.
Sound like entrepreneurism? I think so, to the entrepreneur that means transformation of creative ideas to accountable, actionable changes. Maximizing customer value and experience is a core principle in innovation. The entrepreneur needs to understand that ‘emotion trumps logic’ and that their audience needs to feel and experience the value brought by their innovation.
We are a society of habit and as Nicolo Machiavlli’s quote shows of the past, the same is currently true. The creation of new must provide a value proposition that goes beyond current habits to prevent sabotage from those who feel threatened by change.
To generate “Transformation from Innovation” identify and target market your change agents early so they may become your evangelists to help you articulate and promote your values.
Jeff Brown positively transforming the way people grow their personal business brand.
• Board Member, Coaching, and Strategy for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups
• Developing and transforming ideas into something superb
• Creating accountable strategies to helping clients where they are stuck or want to go
Lindsey Dyer is the new Director of Library Services at the James J. Hill Center, and comes with experience from both public and academic libraries, as well as Target, Corp. and the Minnesota Historical Society. Lindsey lives in St. Paul with her husband and is the mom of three kids. We took a few minutes to chat with her about her new position at the Hill. Come in and join us at the Hill next week during National Library Week to meet Lindsey and her team and participate in free programming.
How did your journey with the James J. Hill Center begin?
The Hill Center inspired me to pursue a career in libraries back in 2005, when I worked here as a volunteer. It is easy to see why – the building draws you in and speaks for itself. Though I had since moved on to new professional opportunities, I maintained an admiration for the mission and staff – particularly the Hill Papers Archivist, Eileen McCormack, whose job I aspired to at the time. I am honored to be back!
What do you want people to know about you?
I am very interested in how library services fit into the broader user experience landscape when it comes to looking for and using information. Libraries have an important task, especially now, to be conduits for authentic and unbiased information that we use every day in business decisions. I think we’ve lost sight of why this is important to talk about. At the Hill Center, we have a unique opportunity to narrow that down to information that entrepreneurs in particular need to get to the next step in their business planning. It’s exciting and inspiring when our information becomes the turning point for a startup.
What has made the biggest impact on your career so far?
Working for both Target and the Minnesota Historical Society gave me a unique perspective on service and management. I like to think that I took the best from both worlds, specifically non-traditional approaches to what accessibility looks like, and have been working to implement some of these things at the Hill Center.
What has been the largest hurdle and success you have experienced in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some talented entrepreneurs, and have had some real conversations about what they need to be successful. I am working towards the hurdle of transforming reference services at the Hill Center to best fit those needs. I want the library to not only give entrepreneurs information – I want us to be the difference between success and failure.
What is it about Minnesota and more specifically Saint Paul that keeps you here?St. Paul – or “Small Paul” – has been my home for 13 years, and it’s the ultimate charmer. I am especially drawn to historic homes, and in fact used to be the Site Manager of the James J. Hill House – the historic house museum to rival them all. This city has a rich history, and it shows.
The Hills’ mission honors the legacy of its founder by continuing to support entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st Century. We offer research, programs, and networking for each stage of business development. Our efforts also include services to the broader community through the hosting of cultural and artistic programming and events.
From Georgia to NOVA…
October at the Hill was buzzing with visitors from as far as Georgia to our own Nova Classical Academy. They stopped in to build lists, research start ups or just catch a glimpse of history. Another prefect example of the vast array of people our Reference Specialists visit with day to day.
Here are some of the examples of who, what and why people stopped in…
- Our reference library staff assisted over 130 researchers in October.
- Most researchers were from Minnesota, though one researcher this month was visiting all the way from Savannah, Georgia.
- Several researchers this month came to use our resources to build a list of businesses.
- It was a great month to build a list of businesses, as we began a subscription to A to Z Databases this month. Come check out this new resource, with the most up-to-date data and a user-friendly interface.
- The majority of our visitors in October are in the start-up or growth stage of their businesses.
- One researcher investigated digital strategy and digital disruption using our journal subscriptions to titles like Harvard Business Review, McKinnsey Quarterly and Sloan Management Review.
- Another researcher explored demographic data related to recreation trends to help develop a marketing plan.
- A group of about 30 students from Nova Classical Academy stopped in to view our space. As one girl gazed at the second level of the building in awe, she asked our librarians, “What do the people in those offices do?!”
We look forward to seeing you at the Hill. Contact a Reference Specialist today!