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Life – like the markets – fluctuates. An Envision® plan adapts. In your financial journey through life, you can’t always see the destination ahead. To navigate life’s twists and turns along the way, we have an investment process built on both adaptive technology and old-fashioned one-on-ones. Find out how an Envision plan can help you plan for tomorrow, today. Call for a complimentary portfolio consultation and a discussion about healthy investing for your future. Matt Watson Senior Financial Advisor First Vice President – Investments 406 Main Ave, Fl. 2 Fargo, ND 58103 Direct: (701) 293-4322

Tim Graveline Senior Financial Advisor Senior Vice President – Investments 406 Main Ave, Fl. 2 Fargo, ND 58103 (701) 293-4917


Investment and Insurance Products: u NOT FDIC Insured u NO Bank Guarantee u MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. © 2016, 2018 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.


// JULY 2019


32 How Can I Grow My


You're an expert in your industry. That's why you became an entrepreneur. But, you don't know anything about corporate structure, tax filings, loans, HR or the thousands of other minutiae you deal with every day. At Fargo INC! we want to help businesses grow. That's why we found 10 business owners and executives and asked them for their toughest business questions. We then paired them up with an expert in that industry. Here are your questions answered. Experts Benjamin Zietz - Dawson Insurance David Groshong - FF Fisher Kevin Warner - Gate City Bank Paul Smith - ND Small Business Development Center Russ Boyle - Edward Jones Steve Dusek - Dakota Business Lending Paul Highness - Pro Resources Eric Halvorson - Bell Bank Carrie McTaggart - Eide Bailly LLP Toby Kommer - Haga Kommer

FEATURES 28 Sponsored Content: Transition Planning For The Next Phase of Your Business 30 Sponsored Content: Open Your Eyes To A Credit Union


76 Change Yourself, Change Your Business For 100 years, Dale Carnegie has been a world leader in growing and training employees. The Fargo branch has been helping communities in our backyard. One of our own employees took their course for managers to see what she can learn. Here’s what happened. 84 Ladyboss Of The Month: Steph Lauritsen 86 Troy White Wants YOU To Improve Culture By Improving The Individual Upstream, a new startup in Fargo, is working to create open honest dialogue in businesses.


91 Is It Possible To Maintain A Good Work-Life Balance? 94 Young Professional To Watch: Thaddeus E. Swanson 96 How Public-Private Partnerships Can Help Grow Cities 100 Faces of Business: Craig A. Wendt 103 Statewide Business Events Calendar


Follow Fargo Inc! on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter


JULY 2019



All our stories in one place

Business events calendar

Read all the past issues

Extra video content

editor's note


BURNOUT DILEMMA omething I've been thinking a lot about is burnout. In our industry, deadlines are tight and never-ending. Right when you think you're finally caught up, the next month and deadline come rearing their ugly head. This takes a toll on our staff

Stat #1 According to a Gallop study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees, 23% of employees feel burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% feel burned out sometimes. Our entire company is going through Upstream, a program designed to help you recognize and deal with your emotions. (Read more on page 86) One of the things we discuss in that is recognizing when you're in weak mode versus power mode. The idea is pretty simple. When you're in power mode, you do your best work so you need to recognize when you're in weak mode and understand what you need to do in order to be in power mode.

Andrew Jason, Editorial Director 10

JULY 2019

and myself. We've lost many great employees because of burnout and growing pains we've gone through. However, I'm on a mission to change that within our organization.

almost nine years now, I've learned a thing or two about ways we can get through the burnout dilemma together. Here are some tips from me to you under the guise of some surprising stats about burnout.

Having been in this industry for

Stat #2 Burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in health-care spending each year and has been attributed to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol and even death for those under the age of 45. For me, one of the best ways I deal with burnout is through exercise. Whether that's swimming laps at the YMCA before work or taking my dog for a walk at lunch, getting my blood flowing really helps me think through my problems. I especially recommend finding a good podcast that either inspires you or takes your mind off work to listen to while taking a walk. (Some of my favorites include Stuff You Should Know, Ted Radio Hour, The Outside Podcast, Work-Life with Adam Grant, The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe, JJ Meets World (hosted by local comedian JJ Gordon) and The Nice Center Presents (hosted by NDSU's Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Scott Meyer.))

Stat #3 According to a recent State of the American Workplace report, only 60% of workers can strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. This is directly correlated with burnout. This is something that I've been very guilty of. In a small business, it can be extremely difficult to create clear expectations for everybody's role. Our business changes on an almost daily basis as new opportunities present themselves so we encourage everybody to be flexible. With that being said, employees can't be expected to do a good job if they don't know what that job is. That's why we're now really focusing on clear job descriptions and key performance indicators for our staff while also preaching to all our employees that they have to be ready for changes.

Stat #4 According to that Gallop study, "Manager support and frequent communication provide a psychological buffer, so employees know that even if something goes wrong, their manager has their back. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis." I've always tried to let my staff know that I'm always there for them, however, I don't make the time to actually show. That's why I'm now doing one-on-ones with my entire staff every other week.

I have no idea if we’re on the right track but this is something I’m really focused on improving within our company. I would love to hear what you and your company are doing to address burnout. Email me at or Tweet us at @FargoINCMag.

EDITORIAL BOARD We at Fargo INC! want to make sure our content is unbiased and reflects the FMWF business community. That's why we meet regularly with our six-member editorial board to discuss local business issues and trends and ensure we are living up to our core values.



Dakota Business Lending

Greater FM Economic Development Corporation

President & CEO

There is an abundance of ways in which the small business, resource partners and others found in this month’s edition of Fargo INC! work to help create stable small businesses across North Dakota. Collectively, they all inspire local entrepreneurism and enhance the connection between the small business and their resources, owners and their organizations grow into trusted pillars of their communities and are equipped to make their own impact in the regions they serve. Small business is built by the work of exceptional people, superior products and services, and a passion for creating something that is bigger than any single person. Sometimes, all it takes is a partner to provide the financial resources, needed to fuel the machine with necessary capital. At Dakota Business Lending, we are excited to get to know YOU. We consider it a privilege to gain an understanding of your opportunities and challenges and provide you with the boost you need to be successful. We recently released the first small business podcast in North Dakota, the ACTIVATEU Podcast. We want to share the stories of small business and their challenges and joys on their road to success. We’re excited to share this podcast with you and have been working hard with so many of our partners and small business borrowers to make this possible. We believe that business lending is not just about lending money to business owners. It’s about taking your dream, your hard work, and your sacrifice, and infusing it with the financial resources that help you soar to new heights.


JULY 2019

Chief Innovation Officer

July is a good month to market and showcase our region to others. The weather is great and spirits are good with many people in and out of vacation-mode. You have the Red River Valley Fair, Downtown Fargo Street Fair, Trollwood Performing Arts and Fargo AirSho, just to name a few. I'm excited for TEDxFargo to spend the day with 2,000 folks taking in the experience that is regarded as one of the best-run TEDx events in the world. Emerging Prairie has done a nice job of encouraging organizations to stack events during TEDx week to take advantage of the people and speakers in town, and build on that week's energy. At the EDC, we scheduled our annual meeting to that week to do just that. We're shaking up the typical meeting routine by making it our (Un)Annual Meeting, with a casual environment that includes showcasing about 20 companies and organizations that are contributing to our strong and growing economy. I encourage you to check it out and register via


Communications Manager

Moore Engineering, Inc.

Save early. Save often. That’s the best advice I’ve ever heard regarding money. Here are a couple of (relatively) easy ideas for making your money work for you: If your employer offers a 401(k) program, they will usually match at least part of your personal contribution. Take advantage of the employer match. Always max it out. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t. Deposit a portion of your paycheck – whatever makes sense given your situation in life – into a savings or investment account and then forget you did it. If you don’t see it, you won’t miss it and you won’t be tempted to spend it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it accumulates. Compound interest is a marvel of the modern world. Finally, remember what the Greek philosopher Epictetus knew 2,000 years ago: “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”


Executive Director

FM Area Foundation



FMWF Chamber of Commerce

United Way of Cass-Clay

President and CEO

2019 has ushered in another reason to celebrate here at The Chamber, as it will be the 10th-anniversary edition of our Voices of Vision event series. Each year, Voices of Vision brings bring nationally recognized, world-thought visionaries to the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo area. Hosting these types of wellknown speakers not only offers the community the opportunity to hear and see a variety of public figures, but also showcases our metro. As with many of our events, we try to strike a healthy balance in who takes the stage. If you’ve been at this event before, you know that we always ask who you want to see next. Athletes and politicians tend to top the list year after year. We make sure that everyone who is selected is also accomplished in business. This year, we pulled out all the stops to secure our most highly requested speaker year after year. We found that she requires nearly a year advance booking, so we decided to pursue a man who is the second-most requested – and is known as an amazing athlete and principled family and business man. We are confident that he will be incredible on the Voices of Vision stage this November. I hope you won’t pass up visiting or our social media to find out who he is!


Imagine starting your first day of a new job without the tools that you need to be successful. How would that impact your ability to be effective? This scenario parallels the reality for many children in our community who start the first day of school without the basic tools that they need to begin the year with confidence. This is why the United Way of Cass-Clay School Supply Drive is part of our strategy to accomplish our BOLD Community Goal to Help Children Succeed. Last year, more than 6,000 local students in grades K-12 started school with new a set of school supplies because of individuals and companies that organized supply drives within their offices and with their co-workers. Coordinating a drive at your workplace rallies teams, coworkers and even customers around supporting our local students. All supplies and donations collected support the community-wide effort to prepare our students for success, and every donation will help achieve our 2019 goal of equipping 6,000 local students with a backpack and supplies for the first day of school this year. That’s the Power of Community, realized. Learn more about running a School Supply Drive at your office at

July 2019

Volume 4 Issue 7

Fargo INC! is published 12 times a year and is available at area businesses and online at

Publisher Chief Operations Officer

EDITORIAL Editorial Director

Art Director Graphic Designer Director of Photography

Mike Dragosavich

Matt Bruns Andrew Jason

Sarah Geiger Sarah Stauner Hillary Ehlen


J. Alan Paul Photography


Laura Caroon, Danyel Moe, Adrienne Olson


Business Development Manager

Creative Director Digital Marketing Strategist Videographer Executive Sales Assistant


Nick Schommer

Simon Andrys Tommy Uhlir Patrick Thompson Kellen Feeney

Associate Sales Director

Neil Keltgen

Senior Sales Executive

Paul Hoefer

Sales Executives

Ross Uglem

Zach Olson

Ella Harrison

Client Relations Client Relations Manager Business Development Executive

ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources

Office Manager


Jenny Johnson Gigi McColm Colleen Dreyer Wendy Kalbrener Bruce Crummy, John Stuber, Craig Sheets

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight Media LLC, Copyright 2019 Fargo INC! & All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Fargo INC!, and Spotlight Media LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight Media LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.

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The ever anticipated lakes issue is here! This month, we paddled out to some of Minnesota's lakes and explored their finest homes. Walk through four unique lake houses, explore lake shopping options and even find a lake home for yourself. From private and serene retreats to family spaces made for entertaining, everyone's reasons to escape to the lakes varies, but all are equally as enjoyable.

With his budding stardom on the field for the Minnesota Vikings, Adam Thielen and his wife Caitlin are embarking on a big venture off the field. The Thielen Foundation focuses on youth development and creates programs for kids by equipping and empowering them to reach their full potential in life. We sat down with the All-Pro wide receiver to discuss his foundation and how it impacts Fargo-Moorhead.



Brad Kelley Principal-in-Charge of Financial Services at Eide Bailly


Making payro

the schedule Completing k. for next wee Prospecting



la Customer re



JULY 2019

of ansition out Planning to tr . so I can retire my business


very business owner’s to-do list is long. There are urgent items that must be addressed now, and others that fall to the bottom as priorities change. One important — but critical — task that often gets pushed down the list is planning and making investing decisions for the transition out of business ownership and into retirement. Brad Kelley, Principal-in-Charge of Financial Services at Eide Bailly, has some thoughts on why business owners are not prioritizing planning for life after they exit ownership of their business. “There are a lot of moving parts, and for many, it feels overwhelming to put structure in place today for the future, especially when the daily tasks of running your business continue to stack-up. You can’t just wake up and say, ‘I think I’m going to sell my business today.’ You really need a runway of five years to start preparing, so you can take it in pieces. If you take it in pieces and you plan over a period, it becomes more manageable to handle.” Essentially, it comes down to unifying all those

moving parts under a plan with the future in mind. At Eide Bailly Financial Services, Kelley and his team focus on helping business owners understand their unique planning needs and implement investment and insurance strategies. “For a lot of clients we help, we’re solving problems, we’re looking at where they are today and forecasting where they can be in the future,” said Kelley. “Our CPAs document what has already happened in a


“Retirement for a business owner must be finessed out of a web of decisions he or she makes in the years preceding their eventual separation from ownership.”

boomers account for most of these transactions. Business owners do not have the luxury of walking away from a job when their pension payout is maximized, or their 401k balance is large enough. “Retirement for a business owner must be finessed out of a web of decisions he or she makes in the years preceding their eventual separation from ownership,” Kelley said.

client’s life while our team works to illustrate how decisions made today will impact their future.”

Eide Bailly Financial Services

• Financial Services • Insurance Services • Investment Services

Financial Advisor offers Investment Advisory Services through Eide Bailly Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through United Planners Financial Services, Member of FINRA and SIPC. Eide Bailly Financial Services, LLC is the holding company for Eide Bailly Advisors, LLC. Eide Bailly Financial Services and its subsidiaries are not affiliated with United Planners.

What’s unique with Eide Bailly Financial Services is that they are positioned to seamlessly collaborate with the numerous other business consulting and accounting professionals at Eide Bailly, providing one place to handle every aspect of a company’s financial needs. Working with Eide Bailly enables clients to build a cohesive, comprehensive team dedicated to helping them accomplish their professional and personal goals. The Transition From Owner To Retiree A significant part of the work Kelley is doing now involves succession planning, the “what’s next” when it’s time to exit the ownership of a business. A survey in 2016 indicated that 54 percent of business owners intended to sell their businesses in 10 years. Retiring baby

Transitioning away from owning a business and into retirement can be an intimidating scenario. “There are so many decisions that need to be made far in advance of the actual transaction that will have a significant impact on the future of an owner’s life after exiting the business,” said Kelley. While thinking about the future and next steps, “they’re still running the business and dealing with the day-to-day operations and dynamics around that.” As an advisor, and with other professionals related to a business succession, “I work with the business owner to help them understand the options that are available to smoothly transition to the next phase of their life. At Eide Bailly, we take personally the commitment to listen and understand what a client wants and provide plans that help them achieve their objectives.” No plan is ever the same. A business owner must consider, among other things, how to reach the right value of the business, how to find a buyer and who that buyer will be, how to structure the transaction and what to do with the proceeds once the transaction is complete. “Then the person is also dealing with the move from a business owner to a wealth manager, where the wealth that was in their business is now sitting in

cash. It creates a number of questions for them: ‘How do I now manage that? How do I generate income to sustain my lifestyle? How much do I need? How much do I pass on to the next generation?’” It doesn’t end there either. Selling a business is also an emotional affair for many owners. Most business owners have spent the majority of their life with their company and it can be hard to give it up. Kelley and his team are there to help clients through that journey, and those decisions and moments often forge the relationships that Kelley says make his job rewarding. “For us, it has always been about putting the client first and doing what’s best for them. They begin working with us at various stages of their life and we step in to meet the client where they are and guide them through the tremendous decisions and changes they will encounter. It is so rewarding to know that the planning you do with a client provides them with direction and clarity, resulting in them achieving their dreams.” Lasting relationships are born from this process. Over his 30 years in the business, Kelley has numerous stories of creating that personal connection with his clients. “Today, I’m traveling to meet with clients who recently sold their business. That’s a process we’ve been working on for a couple of years now. … It’s really fun, rewarding and gratifying to help somebody work through that transition. When I go there today, we’ll have our meeting and then when we’re done, we’ll go to their new lake home and then out to dinner. It’s the relationships that you build with people that’s the most meaningful.” FARGOINC.COM



OPEN YOUR EYES to a Credit Union The question gets asked time and time again, “What is a credit union?”


ou may know that credit unions are different than banks, but how and why? Credit unions are a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution. They’ve been around for more than 100 years. First Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in North Dakota and has been proudly serving its members for 80 years. As a credit union, profits are returned back to members in the form of better rates, products and quality customer service. As member-owners, you get a piece of the pie. Unfortunately, there are often five common misconceptions about credit unions. This article is here to help combat these myths. HILLARY EHLEN


JULY 2019

Commercial Team L to R

Kris Hanneman, Brian Gramer, Chris Howell and Nate Medhus


Financial Services L to R Front Row: Eric Post, Connie Olgaard and Nick Halfmann Back Row: Cali Sailer, Carolyn Holtgrewe, Mitch Volk,

Mortgage Lenders L to R

Jeremy Lindell and Darin Engstrom


I can’t join a credit union. This myth is simply not true! Becoming a member of a credit union is easy. For FCCU, you simply have to live in the region. Credit unions have what’s called a Field of Membership and FCCU’s is the eastern side of North Dakota and western Minnesota. Also, the process of opening an account or switching from your current financial institution is easy and can be done online. For more information, visit


Banks have more ATMs. Nearly all of their branches have ATMs and FCCU checking account holders can take advantage of no ATM fees at thousands of locations with shared networking and Kasasa checking. FCCU wants members to travel and enjoy life, knowing their money is always nearby.

Angie Thomas and Laura Wickham


Credit Unions don’t have the technology I need. They may be a local, community-based credit union, but local doesn’t mean you’re limited. FCCU offers free mobile apps, online banking, bill pay, mobile check deposit, business online banking and more. Technology is important in managing your finances in today’s world and FCCU has made an investment to make sure you can manage your money anytime and anywhere.


Credit Unions don’t offer many products. Each and every day, credit unions help people like you achieve your financial goals, faster. You might be surprised to hear FCCU offers the same products, and in many cases, more than your other financial institution. From business checking and loans, to mortgages, agriculture lending, credit cards, checking, savings and IRAs, they provide a full array of financial services. FCCU was the first in the area to offer a unique, free checking account called Kasasa; this high interest earning checking pays cash rewards each month and offers free ATMs.


Credit Unions don’t have multiple locations. FCCU has 28 branch locations across 23 cities in North Dakota and Minnesota. They serve more than 45,000 members.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM With 28 branch locations across 23 cities in North Dakota and Minnesota, FCCU serves more than 45,000 members. Come see Nate and staff at one of their three Fargo locations to find out more about what credit union can offer you. Fargo Northland 1404 12th Ave. N South of NDSU

There are countless reasons why one should join a credit union, but most importantly with FCCU, you’re a person and not just an account number. They believe in providing a better financial future for all members. Nate Medhus, VP of the Fargo Region says “Here at FCCU, our staff is proud to serve our member-owners, each and every day.” He continues, “It’s a privilege they chose our financial institution. We get excited to develop relationships and help make a difference in people’s lives, throughout our Fargo/ Moorhead area.”

Fargo 45th 4521 19 Ave. South Across from large Petro gas station Fargo 52nd 5201 42nd St. S Near south Walmart 1-800-850-7676





Grow m Busines


my ss?


Financial Expert

Benjamin Zietz Employee Benefits Advisor of Dawson Insurance

Employers will spend an average of


per employee on benefits during 2019

Are there any realistic options for small businesses to offer health insurance to their employees?

Less than


of U.S. workers feel involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work Companies with engaged employees can perform up to

202% higher

* Stats according to Dawson Insurance

Business Executive

Nicole Seaberg Vice President of Valley Green & Associates


JULY 2019

Small businesses looking to offer group health insurance to employees often feel overwhelmed by the large number of choices, plan designs, pricing structures and compliance regulations regarding benefits. The first area of confusion is who must offer benefits. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees are not required to offer health insurance while those with more than 50 must either have a medical plan or pay a penalty. For those looking at implementing benefits for the first time, the first consideration is building a budget and finding out how to create the largest employee value for the cost. Often this means looking at

what other organizations in your same industry are providing. If you have already implemented a plan but are trying to see if there are other options, then working with a broker can be very beneficial. Most brokers can show you pricing options for all the carriers in your market and help you determine what would be the best fit for you. Another avenue to explore is to see if any associations that you are already a member of have a health plan that you could join. The big takeaway is to determine your need and find the right partner to help.

What are the financial benefits of leasing company fleet vehicles versus purchasing them?

Financial Expert

David Groshong Executive Vice President of FF Fisher

Business Executive

Andy Draeger

General Manager of Meridian Seeds to employ full-time staff for vehicle management.

Improved Cash Flow: Leasing typically requires a smaller down payment that helps a company keep more of its cash to manage its core business activities.

Improved Image: Having newer fleet vehicles improves your image and employee morale. Cycling the vehicles with a fleet leasing professional lowers your costs of ownership and downtime. Fleet vehicles are often the face of the company and newer vehicles that are cycled can showcase your success. Minimize your costs and maximize your quality.

Greater Flexibility: At the end of the lease, you can purchase the vehicle, turn it in or release it for an additional term – it’s all about how your lease can be structured and tailored to your situation.

Greater Access to Vehicles: We can acquire vehicles from across the country and can access all makes and vehicle types and the up fits required for your unique business. We’re not locked into a specific brand.

Increased Vehicle Management Support: Leasing professionals can help with acquiring the right vehicles, at the right prices, with the right options and can assist with titling and registration, fuel management, maintenance management and vehicle remarketing. This reduces your costs of ownership and saves your company time. For some companies, it’s just not practical

Funding Stability for Your Fleet: With lease structures, instead of relying on capital funding to purchase your vehicles, leasing allows using operating expense funding. With purchasing, replacing fleet vehicles requires comparing the costs of the current unit to the replacement. With leasing, replacements are easy since they automatically occur at the

There are significant financial and practical advantages for businesses to lease their vehicles in preference to purchasing them.

end of the lease period. Disposal Support: With purchased vehicles, disposal can be a burden with many moving parts, coordination, time and effort. Leasing eliminates these issues for the fleet. Also, we have processes for early terminations of the vehicles if it’s necessary. It’s really easy. Remember, your company is unique and you deserve the highest level of customer service provided. Your goals, budget and size are important and the right leasing partner can help you save time and money. Leasing eliminates the need for a one-time significant cash outlay. Leasing is “pay as you go.” Purchase is “pay before you go.” Leasing will result in your vehicle replacement occurring in a timely manner, reduced downtime, greater reliability and lower maintenance costs. Purchasing can significantly increase your fleet management time, create less predictable vehicle replacement and requires a lot of capital. This will increase your overall cost of ownership because you will exceed your optimal lifecycle replacement.



Have you ever heard of a bank/lender "call a loan" after they receive updated tax returns, personal financial statements, etc. annually when there are no issues with payments being made on that loan?

Financial Expert

Kevin Warner

Senior Vice President of Business Banking for Gate City Bank

Business owner

DJ Colter

Owner of DJ Colter Agency, Inc. American Family Insurance (Fargo, Grand Forks, Cando, Rugby)

To “call a loan” means that a financial institution can require you to pay off your loan immediately. While I have heard of a loan being “called,” this is usually a last resort. Requesting updated tax returns, personal financial statements and other documents annually is a practice that banks are required to perform, due to banking regulations. The regulators have certain expectations that require banks to manage risk and monitor their business loan portfolios, including needing to review the financial condition of both the business and the owners.

Banks utilize these annual reviews as an opportunity to proactively address any possible credit issues. If both parties can address situations early on, they can work together to put a plan in place to prevent financial deterioration and future defaults on the loan. Bankers have an advisory role, and partnership, with the business owner to ensure their finances are in order. Banks will have different perspectives when they review the financial statements and may be able to offer suggestions to improve the business. The annual financial review can help the banker stay apprised of the activity of the business, such as if they are looking to grow and will have financing needs. Back to the topic of calling a

loan – this is truly a last resort for a bank. A couple of the primary factors for a loan being called would be if the collateral securing the loan is not being maintained, or if there are loan requirements that the borrower has not complied with. Examples of those requirements could be having a minimum number of days of operating cash on hand, a limit on capital purchases or dividends, maintaining a minimum net worth or having a minimum income-to-debt ratio for the business. Most banks, especially Gate City Bank, would prefer to work with a borrower before taking a drastic step such as calling a loan. A strong partnership between bankers and borrowers can allow them to work together on a mutually beneficial plan.



Business Executive

Ole Rygg

Founder of Corporate Elements

How do I scale my business? A conversation around growth, hiring employees and creating a successful company

Every business owner has been at the point where they’ve reached their capacity. As a soleowner and the only employee, you can’t grow anymore on your own. So how do you scale? That’s the point that Ole Rygg, the founder of Corporate Elements, has found himself in. To help answer his questions about growth and hiring employees, we had him sit down with Paul Smith the Fargo Center Director for the ND Small Business Development Centers.


JULY 2019

Financial Expert

Paul Smith

Fargo Center Director for the ND Small Business Development Center


Ole: I’m in a situation where I cannot do everything for every organization out there. So I’m looking to hire some people or contracting other facilitators who are really skilled at what they do. Paul: You mean you can’t scale yourself (laugh)? Ole: Well, I can’t duplicate myself, but I have a unique story and background and strengths. It is hard to be everything for everyone. Paul: I would ask, what is your vision for the company? How much of what you do depends on the unique skills and attributes you bring to the table? How challenging will it be for you to recruit others to execute your plan? Do you have a method



Difference between independent contractor and employee

While it might seem obvious, the line between who’s employees and contractors can be blurry. The IRS has three distinctions between an employee and a contractor. Ask yourself these questions before bringing somebody on. If you are not sure, consult an attorney. It could save you money in the long run. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job? Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)

and process which can be clearly communicated, trained and implemented so there is some consistency in how your services are delivered regardless of the facilitator and coach? Ole: You’re absolutely right. That’s what I learned early. I was meeting with people and asking them, what’s keeping you up at night? How can I help you? What’s your plan? And I would customize something to that situation. I’ve learned over the years, slowly but surely, to use more off the shelf resources so I’m working with a number of vendors. Ole: But that’s a great question because that was something I got stuck in before. Paul: I think it’s critical to step back and ask some difficult questions which every business plan should address: What problems does my business solve? How does it solve those problems in a way that’s


JULY 2019

Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

different from others? What is your ideal client profile? Which types of companies do you want to work with? Which clients or work would you say “no” to? What’s my long-term vision for the business? Ole: I’m looking for people who want to improve their results and have been trying different methods but haven’t been able to implement anything structured. So this is something that can be customized to an organization’s structure, policies and systems. I have the experience and the methodology to make a difference, to make learning work and to help people

learn not to do training per se because the individual training that people get right now is very fragmented. Ole: What are some best practices for hiring 1099 contractors? That scares me a little bit. Paul: That’s understandable. You’re going to need two forms: The first is a W9. That’s going to verify all of their information and confirm that they’re legally allowed to work in the US as a resident or citizen. The other form is the 1099 Misc. In January, you want to take a look at how much you’ve paid the independent contractor over the past year. If you’ve paid

them more than $600, you’re going to need to complete it and send that form to the contractor by January 31; you have until the end of February to send or electronically file that same form with the IRS. In terms of best practices, keep your records. Hold on to everything you can - contracts, invoices, proof of payments. Ole: Does it change anything that I’m a sole proprietor? Or is it the same standard for everything, no matter what size of company? Paul: No, the same standard forms apply regardless of your legal entity. When you start looking at

About Corporate Elements

Corporate Elements has been orchestrating workshops, corporate learning, executive coaching and talent consulting in the Upper Midwest since 2012. Working with clients who see effective teamwork and strong cultures as providing the ultimate competitive advantage to their business, Corporate Elements delivers customizable roadmaps to organizations across a wide array of industries, activating employee performance and improving organizational engagement and results. Originally from the island of Stord, located on the west coast of Norway, Ole Rygg (pronounced “Oohlah”, like in “oo-lalah”) is the founder of Corporate Elements. Ole has 20 years’ experience from business consulting across the US, Scandinavia and Europe. He received his master’s in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oslo and now plans to scale and bring his expertise and development roadmaps to more organizations in ND, MN and SD.

working with contractors or potentially bringing on employees, you should be very clear about the distinction between the two because that’s an area that attracts a lot of attention from the IRS. If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, you could be subject to fines and legal fees from the IRS. W2 workers who are misclassified as independent contractors can sue your business for benefits that they were denied like healthcare insurance, overtime pay and other benefits.

provides the equipment to do the job, they’re probably an employee.

If the company controls most of the person’s work and tells them when they have to be there, what they have to do, how they’re going to do it and

Paul: Currently, you’re not required to offer health benefits if you have less than 50 employees. However, from a business perspective, you

The classic case is hiring an independent contractor to do marketing. You bring the independent contractor in. They’re using their own laptop, their own transportation. You’re not dictating the hours of the day that they work. You’re not dictating where they have to be at a certain time. Ole: But I don’t have to offer benefits to employees?

may want to offer some kind of high deductible health plan with HSA, paid time off and a low-cost retirement plan to be competitive and recruit and retain the best employees. More specifically to answer the question of when should a small business owner look at bringing somebody on, I would strongly advise having a business plan with clear objectives, milestones and financial you can measure and track your progress and actual cash flow against your forecast. Generally speaking, business owners don’t hire soon enough.

They don’t take into account several critical factors. First, an employee is going to need ramp-up time, which is usually a minimum of three to six months. Second, in markets where there is a serious labor shortage, it could take weeks and even months before you’re able to find the right employee Ole: In addition, I need a very particular kind of person. Paul: That’s going to make it even more challenging and may add additional time to the process. There’s another important point to consider. Many small business owners have not been trained to manage employees and may require some training, education or mentoring themselves before being ready and able to effectively manage an employee. Which raises another important point. Most small business owners didn’t start their



About the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers

The ND Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) help North Dakotans start, manage and grow their businesses by providing free, confidential business advising and technical assistance in a range of areas which include: Start-up logistics, business expansions, purchase or sale of a business, business succession/planning, business planning, funding your venture, financial projections and analysis and more. For assistance, register online at ndsbdc. org.

companies to manage people, administer payroll or do bookkeeping. My best advice is to clients is to try to outsource administrative functions like HR, payroll and anything else they can offload so they can focus on sales and generating revenue. Do small business owners need to know how to read financial statements and what the numbers mean? Absolutely. Do they need to be doing payroll and filing quarterly payroll deductions? No. We are fortunate to have many capable CPA and accounting firms which do payroll. Some small businesses now outsource their entire HR function to professional employment organizations (PEOs), which typically charge a flat fee based on a percentage of payroll. Ole: I’m trying to be prepared without spending too much time


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thinking about it because, as you mentioned, you have to take a look at the flow of money. Paul: From my experience, most small business owners want to focus on profit, and that’s understandable and necessary for business survival and growth. However, in the first few years of the business cycle, cash flow is much more important than profit. I have seen businesses that are profitable on their P & L but go out of business because they run out of cash. Ole: Which is why I’m trying to keep my overhead as low as possible. It’s why hiring employees is kind of scary. That’s a commitment. Paul: So you said so far it’s made sense for you to file taxes as a sole proprietor.

Ole: Right. Because I don’t have any employees and I don’t really have any assets. At what point would it make financial sense for me to consider moving to an S-Corp and would this the best option? Now, I have received conflicting advice on that. I’ve had CPAs tell me, ‘You should do that as soon as possible.’ And others say, ‘No, you don’t have to do that. Just stay being a sole proprietorship as long as you can.’ Paul: The answer is “it depends.” First, I’m not a CPA and SBDC business advisors do not offer accounting or legal advice. I would point you to a CPA or accounting firm that works with small businesses. That said, from my experience, it’s not unusual to get different opinions and counsel from two

capable professionals, which simply underscores there are a lot of different variables involved and there’s no universal rule of thumb. Here’s the challenge: sole proprietorships, partnerships and LLCs are ‘pass-through’ organizations. That is, any income that’s generated in the business passes through to the business owner’s personal tax returns and taxed at your personal tax rate. In addition, the small business owner must pay self-employment tax on all the profits generated from the business. The real advantage of taking an ‘S Corp election’ is small business owners can now take part of their income as wages for the work they do in the business and rather than being subject to selfemployment tax on all their income, the self-employment

Venture funds in the area Arthur Ventures Dakota Venture Fund FM Angels Gopher Angels Southern Valley Angels Valley Angels valleyangelinvestmentfund.

tax is now limited to only their wages. So at a certain point when the business is generating sufficient income, an S-Corp can be an advantage. However, the IRS requires the business owner to pay himself a reasonable salary for what he or she is doing in the business, which will be subject to FICA taxes. So there may not be a tax advantage after all. The business owner may be better off, continuing to be a sole proprietor reporting his income on schedule C and paying the self-employment tax. In addition, with an S-Corp, my understanding is there is less flexibility than with a sole proprietorship, partnership or 46

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LLC. For example, you have multiple members, an S-Corp is going to require distributions in proportion to the ownership share. All this is to say that small business owners should visit with their CPA or tax professional before making a decision. An S-Corp election doesn’t have to be taken at the start of the business so best to talk with your CPA or tax advisor. Ole: If I’m a small business owner, how would I go about finding partners or investors to help me grow the business? Paul: A couple of thoughts here. One, there’s a world of difference between investors and partners. Investors are generally looking

for a financial return on their investment. Partners typically play a more active role in the business. Your motivation for getting a partner may be to bring in somebody who can help generate sales or manage the operations.

Fund and Gopher Angels. In terms of finding individual investors, I would advise finding an investor or expert in that space (e.g. technology, agriculture) who may be able to connect you with potential investors.

In terms of investors, many small businesses give up equity too early in the process, Rather than give up equity, perhaps an investor would be willing to structure it as debt or convertible debt

Ole: So some of this will kind of unfold over time.

When it comes to finding investors, many fly under the radar or participate in various angel funds such as Valley Angels, FM Angels, Southern Valley Angels, Dakota Venture

Paul: It will. I should add there is also venture capital available through the Bank of North Dakota and North Dakota Development Fund for primary sector businesses – valueadded agriculture, technology, manufacturing and tourism. In addition, some kind of private match is generally required.

Financial Expert

Molly O’ShaughnessyRohrer, CRPC®

Vice President, Resident Manager and Financial Advisor of The Red River Group at Morgan Stanley

The press often talks about a coming economic downturn, what are some financial things we can have in place in the case of economic events like a downturn?

Business Owner

Rob Burke

Founder of Yarn Media

the market. In fact, those who try to time the market may actually underperform investors who simply buy and hold stocks. Why you should avoid practicing market timing There are many things that could affect the overall equity market and any individual stocks you may own—from economic trends to geopolitical events like an election. What is certain is that the market will always have its peaks and dips. This market cycle can make it tempting for investors to attempt to buy and sell stocks at particular times to maximize gains and avoid down periods. This investment strategy is known as market timing, the practice of moving in and out of the market based on predicting when the market will shift. Missing out on Market Moves Although the idea of market timing can be tempting, it is also extremely difficult for most investors to predict the future of


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One reason is the tendency of the market to experience big upswings and downswings on adjacent days during periods of market volatility. That means an investor who sells after a substantial down day for the market may miss a subsequent period of gains. Also, many investors let emotions dictate their actions, leading them to buy stocks when the market has already gained in value, only to sell when the market has declined, leading to sluggish returns. Moreover, even with sophisticated tools to analyze the factors affecting stock prices, it is very difficult to forecast future stock market movements. Also, missing out on just some days in a market cycle can drag down returns considerably. The S&P 500 generated an annualized return of 9.6 percent

between 1990 to 2018 for investors who were invested during that entire period. Investors who missed just the 15 best days during that period only enjoyed returns of 3.6 percent, and investors who missed the best 90 days actually suffered an annualized loss of 3.5 percent. Market Timing Can Carry Costs Along with possibly missing out on market gains, market timing can have other penalties. The transaction costs from buying and selling stocks can add up and drag down overall returns. In addition, investors who do sell stocks for a gain will likely trigger capital gains taxes, again reducing their overall profit. Creating and staying with a financial strategy can help you avoid making rash moves in response to what’s happening in the market. A Financial Advisor can help you tailor a framework that’s set against your long-term goals and considers key aspects of your financial life, from your

age and aspirations to current market opportunities. While market conditions may vary, a personalized, adaptable wealth strategy that’s centered around your life goals should remain a constant as you build your wealth and plan for your future.

Disclosure: Article by Morgan Stanley and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information and data in the article has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. It does not provide individually tailored investment advice and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/ or investments discussed in this article may not be suitable for all investors. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a Financial Advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”) and its Financial Advisors and Private Wealth Advisors do not provide any tax/legal advice. Consult your own tax/legal advisor before making any tax or legal-related investment decisions.

Financial Expert

Once one has created wealth in one's business, what ways are there to leverage that wealth to protect it and grow it other than the run of the mill Keogh, IRA, 401K or Annuity?

Business owner

Harlan Goerger

President/Founder of CEO Solutions


JULY 2019

Russ Boyle

Financial Advisor for Edward Jones

family situation, the nature of your business and your overall financial position (including the composition of your investment portfolio), but, at the outset of your search, you may want to know about some popular succession strategies, including:

your business away outright, but you may want to consider using a trust or family limited partnership, both of which may allow you to control the business for as long as you want, while still receiving a regular income stream.

• Selling the business outright – You can always sell your business outright whenever you like – right now, when you retire or some time in between. Of course, any sale brings tax considerations.

• Using a buy-sell arrangement to transfer the business – Instead of simply selling the business in a traditional transaction, you could employ a buy-sell agreement. With this arrangement, you can generally determine when, to whom and at what price you can sell it. If you would like to keep the business in your family, you may be able to fund the buy-sell agreement with life insurance, so family members could use the death benefit to buy your ownership stake.

• Buying a private annuity – When you buy a private annuity, you can transfer the business to family members, or someone else, who will then make payments to you for the rest of your life, or, possibly, for your lifetime and that of a second person’s. In addition to potentially providing you with a lifetime income stream, this type of sale can remove assets from your estate without triggering gift or estate taxes.

And you will have to put considerable thought and effort in selecting such a plan, because you’ve got several choices. You could keep the business in your family. You could offer it to an employee or an outsider. You could design a plan that will take effect while you’re alive or after you’ve passed away. Your decision should be based on several factors, including your

• Giving the business away – You can leave your business to your children, but if you transfer it during your lifetime, you may be able to obtain some valuable benefits. For example, by relinquishing control gradually, you can be reassured that your children will be able to manage the business on their own. This strategy may also offer tax benefits. You can give

If you own a business, you’ve always got plenty to think about: sales, marketing, employees, competition, industry trends, consumer preferences – the list goes on and on. It’s easy to get so caught up in your work that you might not take time to think about retirement. But if and when that day arrives, you’ll want to be prepared – which means you need a business succession plan.

These and other techniques can be complex, so before deciding on what is best for your situation, you’ll want to consult with your tax, legal and financial advisors. By taking your time and getting the professional help you need, you can make a successful succession choice. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Jason Gingerich Chief Financial Officer at BNG

How Do I Continue My Growth? BNG has been on an upward trajectory ever since it was founded by Brady Nash, Tyler Buechler and Ryan Goodman while they were students at NDSU. The business solutions company, which provides payment processing, point of sale technology, premium website development, marketing services, and automated accounts receivable software came in at number 2,779 on the INC 5,000 list in 2018. Also, BNG just built a new corporate headquarters in Fargo that is a tribute to its hard-working nature, culture and continued growth. We wanted to see what they’ve learned in the years so we had Steve Dusek, the President and CEO at Dakota Business Lending, sit down with Jason Gingerich, the Chief Financial Officer at BNG to talk about what other financial lessons small businesses can learn from BNG’s success.


JULY 2019

Steve Dusek

President and CEO at Dakota Business Lending


Steve: When you know you need to hire an employee but don’t yet have the revenue that you think you need in order to support an additional position, how do you adjust, evaluate or think through this? Jason: Sometimes a business isn’t quite ready to hire needed employees because of cash flow reasons. So how do you solve that problem? Well, you can either wait for the cash flow to pick up to allow for employee growth or you can attempt to procure funds. A business should determine which route they are comfortable with. In order to go with funding, it’s important to demonstrate that by hiring additional employees a business can grow at an even faster rate,



Fintech Apps

Fintech (financial tech) is a quickly growing industry. There are numerous different apps out there that can help you manage your company’s finances. Below are a few of the ones that came up in Gingerich’s and Dusek’s conversation. Concur Concur simplifies travel, expense and invoice management for total visibility and greater control. Expensify Expensify is an application for expense management, receipt scanning and business travel. Simply take a photo of your receipt and Expensify will transcribe the details of it.

pick up additional revenue and serve the debt. For example, we have been in both situations where we have waited for revenue to pick up and then hired out of operational cash flow and at other times, we have procured financing because there was a major workforce need that, if satisfied, we would be able to grow at a faster rate. In order to obtain financing, you have two options. First, you can sell a portion of the business to equity investors and take on venture capital to get money. Secondly, you could try to acquire traditional lending through a bank or line of credit loan. As a small business owner, you must ask yourself the question, “Which type of funding is right for me?” There are pros and cons with both equity and debt financing. For example, with equity you’re typically giving up control in the business but may gain an experienced partner and funding that could help you grow faster. On the other hand, with debt, you can maintain control. Another advantage of debt financing is that you can write


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off the interest expense, saving tax dollars, as opposed to the nondeductible nature of equity dividends/distributions. That said, you may not be able to access the level of financing needed under a debt structure versus an equity series round of funding. In either case, the small business owner must know its business, demonstrate its potential for success and articulate both past and future metrics, all while answering the question, “Why is my business a good investment?” This may involve answering other important questions such as: what is my projected revenue growth over the next five years? What is my customer attrition rate? Who is my target market? How is my product differentiated? What is my customer acquisition cost? What is the lifetime value of my average customer contract? In the end, you must know your business and its potential for success. Steve: You mentioned that you need capital for growth and you were making a decision between traditional financing, equity partner or someone who may

Hubdoc Hubdoc allows you to automatically import all your financial documents and export them into data you can use. Zoho You can run your entire business with Zoho’s 40+ integrated applications. Zoho can help with finances, CRMs, project management, IT and more. ConnectBooster One of BNG’s products, ConnectBooster allows you to automate recurring revenue for your business.

have ownership. What were the decisions made to not use equity capital and try to go it on your own? Jason: Ultimately, it was up to the owners and their unwillingness to take on a partner that’s not familiar with the culture and their friendship. Brady, Ryan and Tyler have been friends for years and bringing on somebody else, while giving up

control by selling equity, could disrupt their relationship. It really came down to control. Currently, our strategy is to leverage debt financing to continue to grow the business but that’s not to say that there isn’t the right equity partner in the future. Steve: So you recently moved from lease space to owning your own space. What kinds of things did you evaluate and when did you realize it was the right time to move to a space of your own? Jason: For us, a big issue was that the space that we were leasing wasn’t big enough for us. At the time, we had doubled in size in two years, going from 35 to 70 employees and so the space simply wasn’t big enough anymore. For years, we have always wanted to have our own building and really build it around culture. We wanted to do it right and build a building that would represent who we are and how we can better serve our clients and partners. That said, if you’re a business owner and you’re evaluating whether to buy versus lease, it starts with your desires. If cost is a big issue, then you might want to lease until you

have the funds to build your building right. Once you build, it’s important to ensure the building defines who you are as it will impact your people, culture and your community. Steve: I just worked with a business in Fargo that is a professional office and his father said, ‘Look, I’ll manage the building and construction. You just see patients because that’s what you do well and it brings in the cash and cash pays the bills.’ You give up a lot of that opportunity cost by focusing on the building. In your role as the Chief Financial Officer, how did you balance that with the owners who probably would have wanted to spend all their time and energy focusing on the building? Jason: Yes, if you’re building, be aware that this could be a distraction from your day to day operations and you may be giving up time that you could be working on in the building versus the business. However, for me, it always comes down to cash. Being the numbers man, at the end of the day, did we have enough money to build

the way we built despite giving up that opportunity cost? If the cash is there, then I would advise someone interested in building to get it right because the building may have long term benefits that quickly pay off the opportunity cost of focusing on the project. That said, be aware that you don’t always need everything to be perfect right away. To a certain extent, we’ve had to do that in our building. There are certain things that we said, “It’d be nice to have but we don’t need it today. We’ll do it further down the road.” Lastly, be aware of your building projections as they most likely will eclipse what you originally projected. For example, we surpassed our budget by a certain number of dollars that we had to pay out of pocket. Be aware of this and plan around it so that you won’t put yourself in a bad situation as you’re putting together your financials. For us, we were able to lease much of what we had to pay out of pocket. Therefore, the lesson for a small business that’s growing and considering building, is that be prepared to have to come up with additional funds that you

About BNG Team

BNG Team has four different solutions they offer. BNG Payments: A credit card processing company that assists merchants with payment technology, credit card processing, gateway, electronic check and payment integrations with company CRMs. BNG Design: A digital marketing and web design agency that helps small business owners receive an ROI with their company website and digital marketing efforts. BNG Point-of-Sale: A premier source of customized business solutions for point-of-sale systems, touch screen tills, electronic cash registers, inventory software and additional services.

didn’t necessarily project, add a buffer to your projections.

and revenues from each of these three avenues.

Steve: While not directly tied to finances, how big of a role does a social media presence mean to small businesses today? How do you place a value on that and how important is it?

Steve: Do you do anything specific to track your results you’re getting from the costs and marketing? How do you track all the marketing expenses and see what’s valuable for you as a small business?

Jason: It’s an interesting question and I think it depends on the industry that you’re in and what kind of business that you have. For example, in our company, we’re providing business solutions and an automated payments platform. We sell our services and software nationwide and other parts of the world, therefore marketing through word of mouth isn’t going to get you there. That said, businesses should explore all avenues. For example, we have three major avenues when it comes to marketing and determining our budget: advertising and social media, call team and trade shows. When budgeting, we evaluate costs


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Jason: We use various tools to be able to track how many leads we are getting per marketing avenue, but it mainly comes down to leads generated per avenue, cost per lead and revenue generated per avenue. A business really needs to get into tracking the data to see which marketing strategies produce the best ROI and then make smart decisions based on the data. Also, a business owner needs to know the length of their sales cycle. From the time and point of a first introduction to a prospect, how quickly does that prospect then turn into a paying customer? We found that ours is quite long and it usually involves

ConnectBooster: A software that makes it easier for your clients to pay you. This software works to solve AR issues, accounting integration, CRM integration and a payment portal for your customers.

utilizing a combination of the aforementioned marketing avenues. The trade show/face to face conversation usually has the best conversion to sales rate, but it’s also the costliest. That said, as a business, we can’t be afraid to try other avenues of marketing in order to drive down cost and increase our close ratio. Overall, it’s a numbers game, track what you are doing and then track the results to see what works and what doesn’t. Steve: As far as marketing goes, that’s such a crap shoot for a lot of businesses and they don’t have a good understanding of it. From a financial perspective, is

there a percentage of the overall budget that you are allocating to marketing or how do you address that? Jason: It’s really based on the success that we’ve seen in each marketing avenue. Currently, social media is our cheapest cost. We market on Facebook, LinkedIn and other major social media platforms. Our cold calling team operates by procuring marketing lists, scrubbing those lists and then calling on potential clients that could benefit from our software. Lastly, we attend trade shows that we feel represent our major market. The frustrating thing is when we’re setting a budget, it’s a challenge to determine which marketing avenue contributed the most to a win - a potential client becomes a paying client. Usually it’s a combination of the three avenues. For instance, perhaps you’re our client, and

About Dakota Business Lending

Dakota Business Lending’s mission aims to “provide financing solutions through collaborative partnerships in a supportive and creative environment to grow the economy and create and preserve quality jobs.” They will work with your small business to learn your company and assist you in finding the best loans available to help you grow your business.

before you became our client you saw our presence on social media, read our blogs, received our emails, subscribed to our podcast, received marketing calls from our team and yet the first time you saw us was at a trade show - which is really how you got to know us. So which marketing avenue was most effective? Well in this case, it was all of them! Therefore, when we create our marketing budget, we take this into consideration. We start by asking questions and then tracking data. For example, we may cut a trade show from our budget if that trade show has historically shown poor results. We may decide to allocate funds towards different call lists if we are not receiving results in a certain market list. We may reallocate funds towards a particular social media blast as opposed to an underperforming blog. To conclude, the data is key. We start by tracking which

marketing effort is most efficient and produces the most wins. After this, we allocate budget dollars to the appropriate avenues based on what the data tells us. Steve: You said you had a long customer acquisition cycle, so accrual becomes probably more important because it can take 18 months to land a customer, but yet you’ve got a lot of costs up front. Does the difference of the cycle and the customer acquisition matter? Jason: Yes, for us, our acquisition cycle can be rather long. For instance, we have a setup fee that our customers pay up front for our product, but they might not install our software for another three to five months. So, what do you do with that setup fee and the upfront costs that we’ve put into our software? Because we operate on an

accrual basis of accounting, we have to recognize the setup fee as unearned revenue until our software is paid - at which point we recognize the revenue as earned. However, the costs of installing and developing our software are recognized in the period in which they were incurred. Thankfully, once the product is setup, we bill the customer on a monthly basis and begin to quickly recoup the upfront acquisition costs. The lesson for business owners is to know your acquisition and retention costs of your products. For us, it can take us, on average, about 10 months to recoup the cost of acquisition. Of course, the question then becomes how can you begin to decrease your acquisition cost and lessen the time to recoup it? The answer may be a combination between finding the ideal price for your product, while offering it at maximum efficiency,

which lowers cost. To do this, start looking at areas in your business which supports the customer from an acquisition level, are there areas where you can operate more efficiently? Also, look at the price of your product, are you charging the most effective price? What is your market willing to pay for the value they are receiving? Steve: How often are you looking at your financials? Jason: I’m looking every day and I love it, but that’s my role. As a business, we’re looking at our financials on a monthly basis - any longer and you may be missing important financial information as the financials are still the number one metric that you can use to gauge the overall financial health of your business. Steve: Are you comparing it to your budget for that month? Are you comparing it to the same month? Jason: We’ll make multiple



was placed on your balance sheet, with only a small amount, depreciation of the equipment, affecting your profit. comparisons, we compare month over month, year to date versus last year, month versus budget, etc. A key metric in our businesses is gauging our MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and looking at the change from the previous month. We’re also comparing it year over year, month to month. We will also do this process for total revenue, and by doing this we can determine the growth of the business to see if it aligns with what our projections are. If we are not meeting projections, we can begin to ask questions as to why that is. There may be a logical explanation and there may not be. In either case, a business owner needs to be aware of the situation so as to make tweaks in order to meet goals. Start asking questions about the financial statements as well. Have your expenses grown? If they have, have your total revenues surpassed the growth of your expense? If they have,

you’re in a good position. If you have a finance person, you can have them run some ratios and look how much certain expenses grew as a portion of total revenue, you can also use ratio analysis to judge the efficiency of the business. This will allow you to really understand the overall health of the business, especially if you’re looking at these numbers on a monthly basis and analyzing the trends over time. Steve: You mentioned cash was really critical, so you’re looking at cash flow statements and analysis of cash flow as well. Most small business owners aren’t as experienced about the cash flow statement and understanding that. How would you suggest they go about learning to use a cash flow statement? Jason: Yes, the statement of cash flows are extremely important in any business. The goal of any for-profit business

is to what? Profit, of course. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have the cash to support your daily operations and you are not able to access cash through one of the methods we discussed earlier, your business will fail. Therefore, a business owner needs to be aware of the cash flow statement. You may say, ‘We profited $20,000 last month and yet our cash decreased by $20,000, how did that happen?’ That’s a common question that can be answered if one has knowledge about the financial statements and how they relate. Cash related items sometimes directly affect the balance sheet and don’t immediately affect profit/loss. For example, using the above scenario perhaps a customer was invoiced $10,000 and has yet to pay that invoice, meaning that the revenue has been recorded but the cash has not yet been received. Also, let’s say you bought $10,000 worth of equipment, meaning that cash was paid and the asset

Not every small business has access to a financial statement analyst, so what should they do? I would advise a small business owner to educate yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, but at the very least try to understand how the profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement tie into each other. To conclude, if you don’t have a basic understanding of the financial statements ask someone who does to teach you. You should be able to, at a high level, look at the financials and determine the overall financial health of the business. Some areas to consider are: revenue and expense trends, gross margin, net operating income (income before taxes, depreciation and other noncash items), current ratio (liquidity), accounts receivable turnover (efficiency) and the operating section of the statement of cash flows (determines the amount of cash generated or lost due solely to the operations of your business).



Financial Expert

Paul Highness

Managing Partner of Pro Resources in Fargo

Business Executive

Courtney Quist Operations Director of CHARISM


How do we use a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) to our employees’ advantage? There is an assumption by most that when a business partners with a PEO, it is to the benefit of an employer by increasing profitability, maximizing employee productivity and reducing labor costs. In reality, at least 60 percent of the benefit from a PEO relationship belongs to the employees. Yes, a PEO assumes much of the employment liability by keeping regulations and compliance off the shoulders of a business owner— not to mention, a great benefits package helps them attract top talent and retain employees they already have —but this is also where the employees receive the bigger reward. Some of the advantages to the employee are access to:


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• Online HRIS (Human Resources Information System) The HRIS allows the employees to have 24/7 mobile access to view their pay stubs, work schedule, employee handbook, benefits, PTO balances and requests for time off.

through the process, treatment and their return to work.

• National discount program, which offers employees savings on restaurants, shopping, travel, hotel packages and more.

• A confidential EAP counselor for those dealing with financial, family, alcohol, drug, gambling or other addictive issues.

• Culture of wellness through a Wellness Specialist offering cash rewards to employees who complete specific challenges. • Safety awareness and safety training that is brought right to their doorstep or through online education offerings, which help ensure employees are more informed and have a safer work environment.

• Human Resources experts who are there to answer an employee’s questions regarding their employment. This gives the employee an opportunity to discuss concerns, where before they might have felt as though they did not have someone to turn to. They also have access to Human Resources Specialists to discuss questions about their PTO balance or their paycheck.

If an employee gets hurt on the job, they will have a Safety Specialist working with them

• Higher quality benefits at a reduced price for employers and employees. This is one

• Management training that equips supervisors with proper answers to employee questions by following employment best practices.

advantage that a PEO can offer because it shops for large groups of employees. Specialists are there to answer questions they may have about the different benefit offerings and how to enroll in those programs. It’s not a surprise that many employers are not good at these things — it’s not part of their core business. The ever-changing Human Resources complexities make it a major time consumer for business leaders and produce zero revenue to the company’s bottom line. Using a PEO helps reduce an employer’s liability while bringing technology, benefits, HR, safety and wellness to their employees at a level that most employers can’t duplicate.


What are some strategies to streamline paperwork and documentation management (employee applications, state and federal tax filings,

benefits enrollment forms, etc)? PEOs use an online system that organizes all of the required pre-hire paperwork electronically in one location without having paper files and excel spreadsheets. The HRIS (HR Information Systems) track PTO, performance reviews, disciplinary actions, I-9’s, W-4’s, employee applications, demographics, birthdays and anniversaries, positions and job descriptions. HRIS’s also eliminate all of the informational materials and paper applications associated with benefits enrollment, most systems have a benefits wizard allowing the employee to have access to plan information or enroll electronically. A PEO files all of the state and federal employee related tax filings and workers comp payments and audits, which greatly reduces timely paperwork and much of the liability. Using a PEO’s HRIS is very valuable to employers but now imagine having a team of experts to manage the compliance and advise.

Small Business Association’s 504 Loan Program

This program offers small businesses an opportunity to grow their business and create jobs. As of 2012, more than $50 billion in 504 loans have created more than two million jobs. According to the SBA, “504 Loans are typically structured with SBA providing 40 percent of the total project costs, a participating lender covering up to 50 percent of the total project costs and the borrower contributing 10 percent of the project costs. Under certain circumstances, a borrower may be required to contribute up to 20 percent of the total project costs.

Financial Expert

Eric Halvorson

Senior Vice President and Fargo Commercial Loan Manager of Bell Bank

Should I keep leasing the space where we are at or would it be wiser to purchase a building or build one?

Let’s look at an example of how this works. This example is courtesy of the SBA. Example: You’re looking to do a $1,000,000 project that includes the following • • • • •

Business owner

Kari Score

President of Dakota Storage Products, Inc Whether you should lease, build or purchase your commercial space really depends on how much capital you have to support your growth. If you’re making more money from your operating entity than your property and you’re considering expanding to other locations, your best route is generally to lease. Most retail businesses – including big box stores – don’t own their space. They often do long-term leases, even of 20 to 25 years, to keep their money in the business, rather than putting their capital into real estate. However, if you’re looking to expand or change locations, we can sometimes work it out so


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your loan payment is lower than your rent payment – especially with today’s great, low-interest rates. If that’s the case, owning is usually a better option, because you’d be building equity in your building, which you could later sell. We can also work with the Small Business Association’s 504 Loan Program, which offers qualified applicants lower down payments and fixed interest rates on a portion of the loan for up to 25 years. Experienced commercial lenders can take a look at your business plan to help you figure out the best option for you and your business.

Building Purchase Land Renovation Furniture and Equipment Soft Costs

Loan Structure • $500,000, first lien with bank (loan obtained from a private sector lender covering up to 50 percent of the total project cost) • $400,000, second lien with 504 loan, 20 year, fixed rate (loan obtained through a CDC, funded through an SBAguaranteed debenture, covering up to 40 percent of the total project cost) • $100,000, borrower contribution (contribution from the borrower of at least 10 percent of the total project cost)

It's a competitive job market right now, what benefits are most appealing and important to attract the best quality job applicants?

Financial Expert

Carrie McTaggart

Benefits Administrator of Eide Bailly LLP

Business owner

Sandra Vigen Owner of Mama Ducks Cleaning Service, LLC

You are correct that it is a competitive job market, and a strong benefits package can make a difference. To attract and retain employees, it’s important to offer benefits that cover various aspects of their wellbeing. It shows them you care. The core benefits that most every candidate will be looking for are health and dental insurance. For increased consideration of their physical well-being, offering a wellness benefit such as money to be spent on wellness-related expenses or a discounted membership at a local gym is a big perk. We have this benefit at Eide Bailly and our employees love it. Physical activity reduces stress and creates healthier employees, which is only a win for your business.

A great way for both small and large businesses to enhance coverage for physical well-being is to provide voluntary benefit offerings. These benefits are 100 percent employee paid but you can negotiate a discount for them as an employer. Some examples include vision, life, short-term disability, accident and critical illness insurance coverages. Another important area for people is financial well-being. People stress about money, especially when they think of finances after they retire. Appeal to applicants by offering retirement benefits, such as a 401(k) plan or profit sharing. The fear of running out of money is one that spreads across every generation of the workforce and you can help ease that concern. Lastly, let’s not forget about work-life balance! To be happy in their work, they also need time to relax and unwind. Giving

your employees vacation time shows them that you see them as more than an employee of your company – you see them as a person who needs time for themselves, too. Depending on your business, offering employees the option to telecommute or work a flexible schedule can also impact their work-life balance. This might be more difficult for your cleaning service, but welcoming a conversation on how you can be flexible within your client scheduling needs shows them you understand they have a life outside of work. Showing applicants that you care about their well-being, as well as their success in your company, sets you above your competition. Add a few unconventional benefits to your benefits package and you’re on the right track to getting those star applicants in your door.



Financial Expert

Toby Kommer Owner of Haga Kommer

Business owner

Dave Diebel

Producer/Co-Owner of D&N Cinematics Bismarck


What’s the best thing business owners can do to ensure they’re on a good path for retirement? The answer to this question is actually part of the question. We encourage business owners to work backward from their retirement date in terms of planning in order to set a path and fully understand the steps in that path. We encounter many business owners that don’t understand how much of a retirement fund they need or they have an arbitrary number in mind. The other important part to this process is understanding that not every dollar has the same after-tax value. $100,000 taxed at 30 percent is much different than $100,000 taxed at 20 percent when it comes to cash available from investment assets after retirement. It’s important that business owners work with advisors that understand that difference and also the unique


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opportunities and challenges of planning with business owners, especially because the sale of their business is often times the largest source of retirement funds. In terms of retirement plans, there are several different options for business owners depending on the type of business they have and how they wish to involve their employees. For example, SEP IRA’s can be great options for self-employed business owners with no employees but aren’t the choice for larger companies. However, selecting the right investment vehicles should be the second step in the plan, understanding the desired endpoint is the first step and is critical to setting the path. Once the business owner discovers the after-tax cash flow they need in retirement, we work with them to help them understand how to achieve that number. For most business owners, this requires

an understanding of what their business is worth or will be worth at a point in the future. Our business valuation team has worked with many business owners to help them understand the value of their business and, more importantly, what they can do prior to retirement to enhance that value and how to structure a sale in the most tax efficient manner. Retirement planning should occur during all phases of business ownership, but if the sale of a business is involved, it is especially important to have in-depth planning conversations at least 3-5 years prior to any sale. Working with business advisors that are entrepreneurial themselves is essential to this process, you want to work with an advisor that has purchased or sold a business for themselves in the past. These types of advisors understand not only the theory behind the numbers but also the mental obstacles that can occur for both the buyers and the sellers. Receiving

the most value for the seller takes creativity in putting the transaction together. There are an infinite number of ways to structure the sale of a business. Working with an advisor that understands the unique nature of each transaction is key. For most business owners, they will only sell a business once in their life and working with a skilled advisor is key.

essential to understanding how your business is performing and where improvements can be made. These monthly or quarterly meetings allow the business owner to step back from the daily grind of running the business and focus on the results and the trajectory of the business. A process for this type of review can lead to questions such as:

What are some common mistakes that could be costing a business money?

• Why are my personal expenses higher than the industry average? • Can I be more efficient and effective by outsourcing certain functions? • Do I truly understand the cost to produce each product or service within my business? • Which products/services are the most profitable?


The number one mistake we see from business owners that costs their business money is not fully understanding or tracking the performance of their business. We encourage business owners to work with their CPA to create an annual budget and, more importantly, a process for analyzing the business performance on a monthly basis. Reviewing actual to budget results on a monthly basis along with industry comparisons, helps business owners truly understand their numbers and to react in a timely fashion. Too often, we hear from business owners that look back on the prior year and wonder where exactly they spent their money or why they had record sales but don’t have the cash flow to show for it. The business environment changes quickly. Having a process to review your actual results on a monthly basis with a qualified business advisor is

It can also lead to money-saving ideas such as requoting the business insurance if it has not been reviewed in the last three years or consolidating a series of smaller bank loans into one blanket loan. For more complex business owners, we suggest rolling 12-month projections versus just a stagnant budget. This process allows the business owner to understand and respond very quickly to revenue, expense and cash flow changes.


As a business, how can you determine if you’re paying too much in taxes? The most important factor in the answer to this question is to ensure you have a proactive CPA. As a business owner, if

you are not meeting with your CPA periodically during the year, chances are you are paying more in taxes than you may need to pay. We like to meet with our business clients at least once per year for an in-depth tax planning session in the fall. It is important to be proactive and not wait until the year is over and the opportunity to take advantage of tax planning strategies has passed due to the deadlines. Often times, we find new clients are frustrated by the lack of proactive advice they have received in the past. It’s not necessarily that they have lost out on tax-planning strategies but rather the lack of communication regarding what may be available. You must do your part as a business owner as well. Consistent communication with your CPA is key. Making the CPA an integral part of your business discussions allows your CPA to understand what new tax programs or deductions may be available for your industry or to develop tax strategies that fit the income stage that your business is currently in and may be in further into the future. The recent tax law changes were some of the largest in history, so now is a good time to review everything from your entity structure to your overall business plan with your CPA. In addition, there are a number of both state and federal tax credits that are available depending on the industry, so working with a CPA that keeps current on these programs is critical.


Any tips on increasing the expediency of accounts receivable? Process is the key to managing accounts receivable. It all starts with the process for screening new clients and the expectations set up during the onboarding process of new clients. We encourage our clients to work with their attorney to ensure their contracts address items that can make the collection process easier, such as personal guarantees and late penalties. Many times, businesses dedicate a great deal of resources to the sale and the sales process and rightfully so because, as the old saying goes, nothing happens until a sale is made. However, after the sale is made, it is just as important to understand, document and manage that process. There are a few keys to managing accounts receivable: • Review the AR aging report weekly and have a defined process for following up, such as a call after the invoice is 10 days past due, a written reminder at 20 days and a certified letter at 30 days. • Move quickly on past due accounts. Studies have shown that the longer receivables go uncollected, the less likely they are to ever be collected, either partially or in full. So day 45 is not the time to contact a client about a payment that was due on day 30. • Make the process easy for the client. That may mean the ability to pay online, return envelopes or payment vouchers depending on



What’s ‘Appening With Cashflow?

There are numerous cashflow and predictive accounting softwares out there. These are some of the top rated ones on, a website that compares and ranks different software. YayPay YayPay makes accounts receivable more productive and predictable. They do this through unpaid or late invoices, inaccurate data, predictive cash flow reports and more.

your industry. The easier the process, the quicker the payment comes. There are several great technology applications on the market right now that make the bill presentation and payment process easy for the client and offer multiple ways to pay and integrate with the various accounting systems. The key is to ensure that someone in the company has the ultimate responsibility of managing the AR function and the process is well defined. This should include, whenever possible, offering or requiring the client the opportunity to pay when the service is rendered or the product is delivered. A systematic and preferably automated method of invoicing and reminding clients of their obligations is also key. Often times, we hear from business owners that they don’t want to offend their clients for pushing too hard regarding AR collection. This way of thinking will almost guarantee more charge offs, especially if you are dealing with other businesses as clients. All business owners understand the importance of AR collection and if you allow clients to “slow pay” you, then, unfortunately, they are showing you they don’t value what you bring to the table.


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Cashflowy Enter your current available balance along with all of your income and expenses and Cashflowy will show your future balance going forward. You will see how your cashflow grows and shrinks over time. Search Cashflowy on the App Store Baremetrics Forecasting Baremetrics helps predict cashflow, predict your customer needs, provides email reports, gives you easy to use dashboards and much more.

Cashvue Cashvue is an active cash flow management platform for companies. A finance team at a company can project, adjust and manage all current and upcoming cash activity and provide a live up to date runway and a future vision of company’s financial health. Satago This software offers a credit control tool, risk insights, cashflow management and more.


When is it a good time to take out a loan or raise capital to facilitate growth? Business owners need to work with a business advisor that can help them with the concept of Return on Equity (ROE) or Return on Investment (ROI) when taking on new debt and especially when looking to raise capital through outside investors. When considering taking on new debt for the company, it is key to understand the ROI regarding the potential use of the debt. (For example, if a business owner is taking out a loan of $100,000 at seven percent interest in order to help the business earn another $20,000 per year.) A decision such as this should be reviewed with their business advisor to understand the risks associated with the ROI on the debt. The example above is a fairly simplistic example. In reality, these types of decisions usually require ramp up time before the investment begins to result in increased profit, which must also be taken into consideration. Business owners in different industries have different internal targets for ROI or ROE, however, 15-20 percent can be fairly common. The first step in

understanding and evaluating your ROI or ROE target is understanding the current ROI or ROE of the company. This helps the business owner understand their risk tolerance and set future thresholds for assisting with the decision to grow or expand through the use of debt or additional capital. It is also very important to understand as a business owner where you are at in the business life cycle in comparison to the retirement goals we discussed in the earlier question. Depending on the ROI of the investment along with the ramp up time, a decision a business owner makes at age 55 may be different from the one he or she makes at age 45. Modeling out these scenarios with your CPA or other business advisors allows you to make an informed decision, and, as we discussed in an earlier question, the costs and revenues of such an investment should be carefully budgeted and tracked on a monthly basis to allow you to analyze your decisions and adjust accordingly if needed. Remember “hope” is not a strategy. Too often, we see business owners spend money and hope for the best rather than analyze the ROI of such a decision before acting and tracking the results in order to make adjustments as needed.


Receipt management is a pain in the a$$. We have drawers full of folders of receipts from before we switched over to Hubdoc. Now, this intuitive software saves us time because all we have to do is snap a picture or forward an email and Hubdoc will automatically track and classify that receipt.



/’fin,tek/ noun computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services.

At Fargo INC! we’re definitely right-brained people. We focus on designing creative products and content so looking at P&Ls and balance sheets doesn’t come easy for us. We’re all about simplifying the amount of time we spend with financials so here are some of the financial and HR apps that we work with on a regular basis.


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Approval processes for accounts payable has always been a problem for us. We want our owner to approve everything but it’s been tough to figure out the system for that. takes care of that. The system will automatically auto-enter data from invoices to create a bill that’s ready to be paid. We can also assign bills for our owner to approve and once it’s approved, the vendor will automatically be paid through the system. We can either have pay that vendor through ACH, international wires in USD or local currencies, virtual card or check.

Ad Sales Genius

We’ll admit that this one is really niche but our CRM (customer relationship manager) is the lifeblood of our organization. Ad Sales Genius is a magazine industry-specific software. While there are some big dogs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics that work great, we encourage you to seek out CRMs tailored made for your industry. (A couple of examples include Wise Agent (real estate), DealerSocket (automotive) or JobNimbus (construction.))

While not directly connected to finances, hiring can take a large toll on your finances if it’s not done right. In fact, it’s often reported that bringing on a new employee can cost upwards of $5,000. Hireonthego makes that process simple. Simply create a new job posting and it’ll be embedded on your website and posted on numerous job boards. Once you start receiving applicants, you can rank them, track their process and even do a background check right through the system.


If you’ve ever created a business plan, you know how tedious of a process it can be. From formatting it to filling in the financial projections, it’s a lot of busy work. Liveplan simplifies that process by giving you an easy to use format where you simply answer some questions, plug in some numbers and Liveplan will format it and create an easy to read business plan for you.


In a service business, accurate time tracking is an absolute must. We use Harvest to make sure we know how much time and money we’re spending on every client. Not only does the system track time, but we can also use it to budget for projects, schedule employees and create invoices for clients.


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Employer On The Go

Human resources might be the most tedious department for any business owner. Employer On The Go makes that easier by automatically tracking important employee information like wages, tax information, contact information and will even create organizational flowcharts.

5 Reasons Events


Are Good For Your Business

ost businesses only think about events during the holiday season. While that’s a great reason to have a party, there are many other reasons your business should consider throwing more events. We talked with Jess Bledsoe, Wedding and Event Coordinator, and Andy Richards, Chief Operating Officer, at the Avalon about what face-toface events can do for your company.


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At the end of May, hundreds of people descended upon the Avalon for Drone Focus Conference, an all-day conference about the future of the drone industry.


Sales or other trainings Off-site sales trainings can offer employees a different experience. Without being in the workplace, employees can be more engaged in these meetings. “People can be more receptive to the information they’re being given if they’re not sitting at their same workplace. A change of scenery can really brighten people up. If you don’t have the space in your workplace to do the training, it’s easier to have a space that’s ready for you to walk into and you’re good to go.” - Jess Bledsoe

PRO TIP The Avalon can do competitive pricing for smaller events held during the week. It is often cheaper to do an event on a Tuesday morning, rather than a Saturday night.

Jess Bledsoe Wedding and Event Coordinator


Holiday Parties What better way to say thank you to your employees and happy holidays than an off-site holiday party. You can have hosted casino nights, game nights, concerts and more for companies who want to show their employees they appreciate what they do around the holidays. “It’s definitely better to secure your spot earlier, especially if you’re looking at a Friday or Saturday. A lot of companies do book holiday parties during the week as well. Thursdays are a really big day. Holiday parties are a good way to extend a thank you to your employees for what they do and it shows them that you appreciate everything they do for you.” - Jess Bledsoe Some holiday party ideas • Have a band play your party • Casino night • Gala (Great Gatsby is a popular theme) • Silent auction supporting a favorite charity • Rather than a holiday party, consider renting a room for big sporting events like the Super Bowl

Andy Richards Chief Operating Officer




Employee Appreciation You don’t need a holiday to show your employees how much you appreciate what they do. You can host a small (or large) get together to boost morale with apps and drinks! “Usually, at the end of every fiscal period, you can find money that you can allocate and you can write those off for professional services or marketing. That way, it creates retention and you can increase the awareness of your company if you open it up to the public.” Andy Richards

PRO TIP Bell Banks does a Years of Service event every month where they appreciate their longserving employees. This is a great way to recognize employees’ loyalty.


Customer Appreciation Without your customers/clients, you would not be you. Show your appreciation for their business with an event. Fundraisers, galas, concerts, game nights or even a nice four course plated dinner can be a great thank you for their continued loyalty. "Some of the bigger ag companies in town do customer education, which could also be customer appreciation, where they host a huge event to educate their consumer on a product or service and they provide food in a social environment and usually have a mixer at the end so people can talk and have a good time. Sometimes, that can expand to a multi-day event if they get vendors involved." - Andy Richards

PRO TIP The Avalon recently started doing mixology courses where they'll do custom classes teaching you about the art of making drinks. This is a great way to ensure your customers are engaged in the event.


Investors Have a client you are wine and dine? Try their Roosevelt Boardroom for your next investor dinner. Restaurants can be busy and loud, but their Roosevelt room can give you the privacy you need and the class you desire. “With the investor meals and donor dinners, you have the ability to conduct the entire night in a fashion and succession you want so you can control all elements about what’s going on when you’re about to ask for a lot of money or you’re about to present to people. That’s something that’s usually missed at a lot of those meetings. Having a side room at a restaurant is still extremely loud and cluttered and you usually don’t have the right equipment to do a presentation.” - Andy Richards

PRO TIP You can do special requests for food and drink if you really want to impress somebody. For example, Carson Wentz brought in North Dakotan elk and pheasant for a fundraiser.

Avalon 2525 9th Ave. S, Fargo Capacity: 20-1,000+


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Change Yourself,



or 100 Years, Dale Carnegie has been a global leader in corporate training. Dale Carnegie of ND and NW MN is supporting businesses with anywhere from five to 2,000+ employees right here in our own backyard. We had a chance to connect with some of the team to learn more about what makes their solutions unique. Spotlight, the parent company for Fargo INC!, also had one of our own employees take their Leadership Training for Managers course to see what she could learn. Here is what happened.

BY Andrew Jason PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen

Dale Carnegie offers a lot of different courses. What are the most applicable ones for small businesses?

We’ve helped companies of all sizes generate revenue, increase productivity and reduce costs by revealing their bright and resourceful workforce. To capture the kind of lasting, profitable results that will drive long-term growth for any company, it is vital for employees to be competent, passionate and committed. We offer a variety of courses under each of these six core topics, designed to set teams in motion and help organizations reach new heights: • • • • • •

Leadership Powerful Presentations Communication and People Skills Sales Customer Service Organizational Development

In addition to our programs being open to the public, we offer tailored solutions for clients, including in-house training and workshops, assessments and executive coaching. (Bethany Berkeley)


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Dale Carnegie has recently moved into the Historic Union building at 1100 NP Ave. N. Ste. 201, Fargo.

You will actually go in and work with entire businesses. Tell us more about that. I can see this being really attractive for small business owners.

Our approach is consultative and relationship driven. We know every company has a unique competitive edge in the market, history and culture. The solutions we recommend are based on the given industry, organizational structure, size and capacity. It starts with a conversation – we truly listen and learn. We review successes, challenges and overall organizational health. Our goal is to drive performance outcomes by leveraging innovative and sustainable methods with a proven track record of success. We work to ensure the process is as seamless and fun as possible. (Bethany Berkeley)

You don’t just have programs in Fargo. You’re also across the entire state, right?

One of the AMAZING things about Dale Carnegie, we can offer the same phenomenal services no matter where you live in the state. We have talented certified trainers located throughout the region ready to deliver Dale Carnegie programs and solutions. We work with clients from all areas of business and located all over ND/ Eastern MN. (Naomi Schempp)






Partially Engaged


Fully Engaged




Partially Engaged



Fully Engaged



Partially Engaged


Fully Engaged


How Dale Carnegie Can Help Solve Your Problems Problem 1 So many entrepreneurs don’t come from a background of business or management. They’re usually just an expert in their industry and have a passion for their product. However, in order to grow and sustain their business, they need to either learn how to manage or find people to manage their team. What are some of the most common growth areas you’ve seen from working with managers and owners of small businesses? What advice do you have for them? Communication and engagement. Often times, communicating the vision and the values to be consistent and clear is not happening at the level it should. The more people practice their clear communication and relationship development skills, the more engaged their team will be. The next aspect, I would say, is staying organized and managing our time to be effective. (Jay Peltier)

Problem 2 Most of our problems, whether professional or personal, come from poor communication. In a nutshell, can you provide us some points on how to improve our communication skills? “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it” - Dale Carnegie There are numerous best practices and tools to help ensure consistency in the four ways we have contact with the world to build trust, credibility and respect with those around us through our verbal and nonverbal communication. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question because how we communicate – and perceive communication — is based on our life experiences and personalities. Improved communication requires self-awareness and the ability to be aware of the communication styles and preferences of others. Improved communication takes time and practice. Our tip? The Dale Carnegie Course is built on the foundation of communication and relationships – the program is designed to stimulate awareness and push people out of their comfort zones to become confident, adaptable and memorable communicators with a strong presence. (Bethany Berkeley)


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Jay Peltier Owner

Naomi Schempp Director of Operations

Bethany Berkeley Vice President of Business Development

Jenny Johnson, Spotlight Media, Fargo INC!’s parent company, Client Relations Manager went through the Dale Carnegie course for managers.

Recovered Reactive Professional

BY Jenny Johnson, Client Relations Manager at Spotlight Media

I have always had a drive for selfimprovement. When I saw a post online about a Dale Carnegie course for managers, I felt an overwhelming desire to be a part of it. In my role at Spotlight Media, I have spent the last few years developing our Client Relations department. Recently, we have taken on new team members and I had the opportunity to become a manager for the first time. I wanted to become a better leader for my organization. The first day of class, I was filled with anxious excitement. I didn't know what to expect or whom I was going to meet. After the first session, I was filled with enthusiasm and motivation and I couldn't wait to get back to the office and share what I had learned with my team. One of the biggest takeaways I learned on the first day was the difference between leadership and management. • Leadership creates environments that influence others to achieve group goals and support a world they help create • Management executes creation, implementation and monitors the process Early in the course, I became aware of opportunities for growth. Being in a tight deadline-driven business, it is difficult to be proactive at times. Our facilitator tasked us to come up with a vision headline. She said if we were to walk into a party at the end of


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this course and we saw a big banner with our goal hanging up, what would it say? Thinking about my desire to be more proactive and less reactive, I set my vision headline as "Recovered Reactive Professional." We were to write this statement down and put it somewhere we would see if every day. In addition to that, we had to select three "show up" words that we wanted to live by. My words included focus, doer and finish. I put these three defining words by my computer, they served as a reminder to keep me on task. As the weeks went on, our class grew very close. We had individuals from a variety of businesses and industries. Even though the industries are somewhat different, we had the same goal and that was to become the best leaders we could. We learned that there are five drivers to help you become successful in leadership: • Self-direction • People skills • Process skills • Communication • Accountability These skills are the foundation for both your professional and personal life. As a requirement for our graduation, we were to develop an innovation project that would successfully help our organization.

We outlined how we were going to gain buy-in as well as a plan for how we were going to execute and present our results at our commencement ceremony. Personally, I thrive on being in front of a crowd, however, I realize that doesn’t come as easy for everyone. I was so proud to watch my classmates grow over the 9-week course to become more confident and to see how much it shined through while doing their presentations. It was amazing to see how far everyone came both in their professional and personal journeys. In addition to taking this course to become a better leader for my company, I was also looking for an outlet to find my inner self. I gave birth to my Son Landon last summer and coming back to work was a difficult transition. By the end of this class, I felt I had found myself and gained back my inner motivation and drive that I had been missing. I can honestly say that this course has changed my life. I am more of a coach and have used my new skills in a number of ways. My takeaway: This experience was gaining skills to be a leader, rather than just a manager and how coaching other's builds your legacy. In addition to that, always celebrate the wins no matter how small and a high-five can go a long way.

Steph Lauritsen



JULY 2019

As a Certified Financial Planner professional, Owner of All Things Finance LLC and CoOwner of Retirement Planners, one of Steph Lauritsen’s goals is to help women become more confident about money.

Q Tell us briefly about what you do. A I wear several different hats as most people do. In our business, Retirement Planners, my husband and I help clients invest and plan for retirement. I started All Things Finance in 2018 because I saw a need and desire in people, especially women, to become more educated and confident in regards to investing and personal finance. I teach workshops, write and speak about personal finance and life and have a Facebook group where people can connect. Q What’s your favorite part about what you do? A I really love speaking to groups, especially in a workshop style when I get an hour or more of their time. This allows me to share my own personal experiences, including some inspiration for daily living, and then walk participants through real ways they can make an impact on their everyday finances and long term planning. Money affects how we live and how we live affects our money. I’m very passionate about weaving the two together and teaching people how to align their values with their spending. Q When did you first get interested in finance? A I started working with my husband and his dad in their financial planning business after college. At first, I was just their assistant, helping with marketing, compliance and customer service. The more I learned, the more I wanted to

learn. I found myself getting excited when talking with people about their retirement, investments and personal finances. Growing up, I had never thought I was good with money, so as I gained more confidence in the area, I became passionate about sharing my knowledge with others. Q Why is it especially important for women to be educated about their own personal finances? A According to statistics, women typically have a life expectancy of two to four years longer than men. However, in my family, that has been more like two decades longer. Many women will just say, “My husband handles all of that…” yet, most married women will outlive their husbands and therefore need to be a part of the conversation early on. As we know the landscape is also changing and many women are either not getting married or get divorced. In a survey I did of 100 women in our area, the responses I received made it very clear that women want more information and education on their finances, however, they are often overwhelmed or intimidated. My hope is through my workshops, speaking engagements, website and social media groups, I can help encourage women to control their finances, rather than let their finances control them. Q What are the first steps to becoming better educated about money? A Be open to learning. Some

people will say they aren’t good with numbers or money yet everything we know how to do, we had to learn. There are so many ways to learn, including books, podcasts, blogs, videos, workshops, social media and most of the resources are inexpensive or even free. If you are willing to learn and seek out resources, you can absolutely have control of your finances. You can’t run from money, it’s all around us and affects almost every aspect of our daily living. But you do have a choice to either feel like you are barely getting by or learn how to manage your money with confidence. Some of the basics? 1) Don’t spend more than you make. 2) Save for retirement. 3) Figure out what your values are and make sure your spending aligns with those values. Q What top 3 books would you recommend to Ladybosses? A “The Latte Factor” by David Bach “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis “Who Will Cry When You Die” by Robin Sharma

Learn more @allthingsfinancend for weekly videos Facebook group: All Things Finance for Women for additional content and discussion.




Troy White Wants


to Improve Culture By Improving The Individual


hat if you could get everybody in your company to understand each other and communicate the same way? Upstream, a new startup in Fargo, is working to create open and honest dialogue in businesses. HILLARY EHLEN


JULY 2019


roy White, Founder of Upstream, is on a mission to help people grow professionally and personally. Most small businesses are founded by someone who has a passion in their industry but might not have any experience in management or working with people. It’s very easy for owners to get so caught up in the day to day that they forget their most important asset: employees. “I think that the most important thing to remember in any work environment is to not forget the human factor,” said White. “Employees are there not to just collect a paycheck. Employees are there because it fulfills them in some way. As a business, what is that fulfillment part? Us, as humans, we have emotion and I think, all too often, it’s, ‘Leave your feelings at home and you’re here to do work.’” The Genesis of Upstream While Upstream was only started in 2018, the history of it goes back much farther. In college, White majored in advertising to combine his love of psychology and marketing. After running his own marketing agency for years, White decided he was looking for something more. “I enjoyed what I did but there was something more that I wanted to do,” said White. “I didn’t feel that I was getting the greatest satisfaction from what I was doing. I started to reevaluate things in my life.”




Spotlight Testimonials The entire team at Spotlight is going through Upstream. Here’s what we learned.

Mike Dragosavich Owner

The Emotional Workflow




"I'm humbled every week about how I can learn how to get better as a leader through understanding the psychology of how we all operate. Not only am I applying this in my professional life, but I'm also applying it at home with my family. It's nice that Troy works with the management team and the rest of the staff and keeps it all confidential. This allows everybody to be honest and open. It's also very cool to see how our team is applying these tools we're learning almost every time I talk to them. I can't wait to see how we continue to apply what we've learned."





Colleen Dreyer Vice President of Human Resources "One of my biggest takeaways from Upstream is my self-empowerment. I am making more positive choices inside and outside of work by thinking before I act or speak. It seems to be a simple concept but when Troy breaks it down, this approach truly takes practice. Through the dialogue in the sessions with the leadership team, I am able to identify my strengths and areas of opportunity and I am beginning to understand my limitations in my everyday life."

Alexandra Martin Fargo Monthly and Design and Living agazine Editor "I've learned that in developing my personal life and how I react to situations, I can also develop my professional life. While worklife balance is important, Upstream has helped me connect how my emotions and reactions influence life in and out of the office. Our whole team has learned how to see all types of things through a different lens and we've become better at identifying the whole picture of certain situations."


JULY 2019

White, who grew up in an abusive household, started working with nonprofits, including the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota. He eventually went on to co-found Upstream to work with individuals and couples, nonprofits and businesses. They developed their own curriculum based on Cognitive Behavioral training as well as work from Steven Stosny, Daniel Goleman and other leading thinkers in emotional intelligence. “Coming from a world of conflict, I was able to see and understand why conflict happened,” said White. “We have conflict in our society, our work environments, personal and professional lives and much of it is completely avoidable. “If we work with businesses to provide leadership and emotional intelligence training for leadership and employees, how many people can you impact? Because, what we do not only changes the work environment, their personal lives change as well.” How It Works This is how culture is often created and defined in an organization. The leadership

team decides on what behaviors they want in their team. (Let’s say it’s respect and kindness.) They then tell everyone to be respectful and kind. That message is added to their website and plastered on walls in their office. Everybody then lives and works happily ever after, right? Wrong. What happens, according to White, is that our behaviors are driven by our emotions and our emotions are driven by our thoughts and our thoughts are driven by our beliefs. When beliefs, thoughts and emotions remain the same but we are forced to behave differently, we have compliance, not change. This increases frustration rather than improve culture. “What we do is we work with people to change their beliefs, thoughts and emotions and to be in control of their state of mind so instead of reacting, they are responding and are in control of what they can control: themselves,” said White. “Now you don’t have compliance, you have a true culture that works together. And when you have an employee who has a positive work and a positive home environment, you have a much happier employee.”

Training Rather Than Replacing According to the Society for Human Resources Management, a new hire costs about $4,129 and, on average, it takes 42 days to fill that position. Well, what if you didn’t have to deal with the cost of replacing somebody and could work with them to fit your culture and workplace? Upstream’s “Employee Enhancements Training” is aimed at doing just that. They will take an employee you’re on the fence about keeping and work with them to increase their emotional intelligence and change their thinking habits and behaviors. They do this either as a one-on-one or in a classroom setting. So how do you know if an employee is a good fit for this program and isn’t just the wrong person for the company? “If they’re having a difficult time doing their work, they might be in the wrong seat. Finding them a new seat within the company might be the solution,” said White. “But, if their perceptions, negative attitudes and reactions are inhibiting their performances, or perhaps they lack confidence, are easily angered or cause conflict, these are signals that there is an underlying problem. This training will provide the understanding and tools to make significant changes. We see transformative results in people wearing three-piece suits, orange jumpsuits and everything in-between.” Their next class will start in Fargo on August 6, 2019. They also work one-on-one with clients remotely.

LEARN MORE 701-446-8512

Is It Possible To Maintain A Good

Work-life BALANCE?


ork-life balance. We’re all trying to achieve it but does it even exist? We talked with Mark and Alyson Bjornstad to see what their philosophy on this age-old problem is and some ways they’re trying to make the most of their lives together.



Beer Alyson: Ectogasm Mark: Involuntary Narcissistic Rage

on work-life balance “I don’t know if we have a philosophy. We just try to find the balance that works for us. We both have careers that we’re really passionate about and we make sure that those careers allow us to have a family life that we want and provide us with professional satisfaction.” – Mark “I would say it’s never going to really balance but you have to appreciate the time you have. Because they get up early, I try and make it a point that we sit down and eat breakfast together because we’re going to be gone all day. You find a little more appreciation in the time that you have when you’re busy during the day.” - Alyson

Mark an d Will (4) Alyson Bjorns tad and Ch arles (2 )


Mark and Alyson Married 11 years Alyson: Commercial lender at Bell Bank Mark: Nurse anesthetist and cofounder of Drekker Brewing




Each Other “We each have separate careers and career ambitions. I acknowledge what Alyson wants to do in her career and the goals she has for herself. Those are valuable and she needs to have the time and professional latitude to reach those goals. I need to support her on that. Alyson has been incredibly supportive of the extra time and what we do as a business.

Coming Home

From A Stressful Day At Work “At the hospital, what I do is ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in the country. You have to compartmentalize that part of your life. You have to be professional and composed about what happens in the operating room and the stress level that goes on there. If there are days that are stressful or negative, debrief with yourself on what happened.” – Mark

“We’re each very serious about our careers but we have to be equally serious about supporting the other person’s career. There’s no time for one of us to be jealous about how much time I spend away or if she’s got a week where she has a couple client events at night. We support each other and our career goals.” - Mark

tips Alyson Online grocery shopping Amazon Prime

Reminders on her phone (For example, if the kids have swim lessons on Wednesday nights, she has a reminder to go off in the morning to pack swimsuits.)

tips Mark

l day on his He spends al mputer so phone and co conscious he makes a nnect with o effort to disc the end of technology at the day.

Drekker’s new Brewhalla location at 1666 1st Ave. N, Fargo is a mecca for beer drinking. This former Northern Pacific Railroad shop was originally built in the 1880s and features a huge taproom, brewery and outdoor patio.


JULY 2019

“Since our time as a family is limited, we don’t have time to waste it on the little things like, ‘You didn’t take the garbage out.’ Those little things don’t even get brought up because we have to save our time for things that are more important. If there’s something I think the kids should do, I’m just going to sign them up for it because I know he has 100 things going on here. It’s just trusting each other and knowing that we’re not the type that we run everything by each other.” - Alyson


s are two day While no me, here a s ever the the hedule in ld is the sc o h e s d hou Bjornsta l day. a ic on a typ

p and wake u n o s ly A ark and er 5 AM M up shortly aft ke b at kids wa o his jo ady t s d a e h e ts kids r M Mark 5:30 A hile Alyson ge w Sanford y ll da ks at Be r for the o w n lyso 5 PM A M A 8 Sanford t Bank a p u hes y ark finis at the brewer M M P 2 ork m es to w s up fro and go id k e h t icks lyson p A M P 5 r ol r suppe o prescho f e m s ho h ark get e is bat in 6 PM M t u o r ning d heir eve usic videos an T M P 7 d m ooks an atching time, w ngs, reading b so singing ed. ob going t


The Bjornstads have some shoutouts for things they really appreciate and their kids enjoy. • Growing Kids Preschool & Childcare • Swim lessons at the YMCA • Going to the Red River Market on the weekends: “To us, that’s a Saturday morning routine. Go there, get a snack or early lunch and grab some produce for the week and hang out as a community.” - Mark • Going for bike rides because Will has learned how to ride without training wheels • Weekend trips to Duluth and the Twin Cities Mark: “We love those day trips to get out of town and have committed time to get away from the chaos in Fargo. If I’m in town, the brewery will suck me in. It’s the same thing for Alyson, she could always be working on other stuff.”

YPN's " ne to Watch"

THADDEUS E. SWANSON Associate Attorney Nilles Law Firm


ach quarter, the FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network selects one of its members as its “One to Watch.” Meet this month's winner.


JULY 2019


Q&A Tell us about your involvement in YPN. What do you like about it the most? I’m currently the Vice Chair of the Social Committee. We plan the monthly Off the Clock networking events, business tours and cultural events. I’ve enjoyed the relationships I’ve built from being a part of YPN and getting to know more people. What organizations, along with the YPN, are you involved with that help you grow professionally? As a result of a few the relationships I’ve built from YPN, I had the opportunity to be part of the planning committee for the first annual Big Band Night, which took place this February. The committee was made up of people from YPN and the proceeds from the event benefitted Charism. Big Band Night was an original idea that our committee was able to build from the ground up and successfully host with the help and support of several local businesses and organizations. My involvement with Big Band Night gave me the chance to work with a group and multiple other people and entities to plan an event, solve problems and execute. I believe that those skills are critical to succeeding in any line of work. For other aspiring young professionals, what advice do you have for them? Make the time to get out and meet people, in whatever form you’re most comfortable with. The relationships and connections you build by being involved are important for both your professional development and your personal life.

Briefly tell us about the journey that brought you to where you are now. I started college at (what was then called) MSCTC - Fergus Falls and attended for two years, completing my general education requirements. I finished college at NDSU, graduating with a bachelor of science degree. I spent a year working at a local business and then attended law school at the University of North Dakota. After graduation, I moved to Williston for my first job as a law clerk for the judges in the Northwest Judicial District. When my clerkship was done, I accepted a position as an associate attorney with the Nilles Law Firm in Fargo, where I’ve practiced for the last three years. My practice focuses on business and corporate law, estate planning and real estate. Do you have any favorite business books, podcasts, magazines, etc. that have helped you learn along the way? My favorite books tend to be non-fiction and focus on current events. Admittedly, I’ve very recently started listening to podcasts, mainly for personal enjoyment. One series that I’ve discovered is called “Business Wars.” That series focuses on some of the biggest business rivalries of the modern era, e.g., Coke vs. Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch vs. Miller. Is there anybody in the community you want to thank? My family, friends and mentors that have supported me throughout my college years and continue to support me.




Education #20


Health Care #38

What’s Our



hen it comes to North Dakota, we’re pretty familiar with the middle ground. We’re ranked somewhere in the middle in most categories, such as education (#20), economy (#35) and health care (#38). (We’re the 4th happiest state, though!) We’re even smack at the top of the Midwest, the land of saying hello to strangers and avoiding confrontation. But even the 4th happiest state has room to grow. In “The Next American City,” Mick Cornett talks about “the Middle” – midsize cities all across the U.S. that make up the economic backbone of our country. These places, says the former mayor of Oklahoma City, are capable of astounding growth, innovation, productivity and pragmatism. Sounds a lot like North Dakota, right? Cornett provides example after example of these places in the Middle that overcame looming economic challenges or impending cultural crises by tapping into essential parts of their cities’ personalities. BY ADRIENNE OLSON, KILBOURNE GROUP


JULY 2019



In 1987, Oklahoma City lost out to Indianapolis in a contest to lure United Airlines’ new maintenance facility. Desperate city leadership, led by then mayor Ron Norick, had gone to great lengths to secure tax benefits for United Airlines and bring new jobs to a struggling city. Afterward, they took the insight provided by this almostopportunity to convince citizens to vote “yes” on a one-cent sales tax that would create $200 million in revenue and fund nine projects that completely changed the city’s economy and quality of life.

Seattle was growing fast, and city leadership was anxiously working to create a power grid that would meet projected demands. When an ambitious plan to build 20 nuclear power plants fell through, the city turned instead to its history of conservation. Rather than building new power plants to support a growing population’s power needs, they retrofitted older homes to be more energy efficient and undertook a public campaign to encourage energyconscious habits.


Economy #35


Happiness #4



Then mayor Richard Berry recognized a common problem in his city: homelessness. He saw that organizations aimed at alleviating hunger, poverty and addiction were overwhelmed. So with a van, an initial government investment of $50,000 and a partnership with the community’s non-profits and churches, Albuquerque started the program “There’s a Better Way.” The program was able to connect the city’s homeless with a day’s work on city projects in exchange for a healthy meal simply by meeting them wherever they were. Over the course of eight years, the program connected 200 homeless citizens to full-time employment and reduced the homelessness rate among veterans to a functional zero.

As of the 2010 census, Louisville was the 27th largest city in the U.S., but it was perhaps best known for one thing: the Kentucky Derby. However, under the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer, the ‘Ville’s Office of Civic Innovation has undertaken tech-driven leadership that improves the lives of its citizens year-round in an attempt to stay ahead of the technology curve. This drive for innovation led to advancements such as internet-enhanced children’s inhalers that provide real-time data for kids’ health and provide crucial air quality statistics to city leadership so they can identify pollution hotspots and strive for a healthier city.


JULY 2019

Of course, these are just a few of the examples included in “The Next American City” of how cities in the middle have worked to grow an active economy and make sure the people that call these places home are happy and healthy. It is a marvel to see all the unique ways in which cities got creative to tackle whatever burgeoning problem they faced. But perhaps the most exciting part is that this book holds insight on ways we can make our own state even better (and happier). In a speech for 1 Million Cups in 2017, entrepreneur and agricultural engineer Barry Batcheller asked the audience to consider what Fargo’s major would be. What’s our core competency when it comes to business and innovation? And by extension, where are our greatest opportunities to shine bright? Since Batcheller issued his challenge, we’ve seen the private and public sectors in North Dakota band together to double down on making the state the world-leader in Unmanned Air Systems and drone technology. What makes your city unique? What do your residents love about living there? What could your city bet big on to make it an even better place to live? If cities across our state partnered with their private sectors to identify the answers to those questions, it would only serve to make North Dakota a happier place to live.

Faces of

Fargo Business

CRAIG A. WENDT Co-Owner Valley Landscaping, Curb Master and Spitfire Bar and Grill


JULY 2019

As part owner of Valley Landscaping, Curb Master and Spitfire Bar and Grill along with his brother, Craig Wendt knows a thing about prioritizing and growing his many businesses. Hometown: Buffalo, North Dakota Family: Vicki (wife), Sierra (freshman at NDSU) and Kassidy (freshman in high school) Fun fact: His daughter Sierra got her realtors license in high school and works for Archer Real Estate. Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and anything outdoors Day in his life... I wake up early, think about what needs to get done and help get the crews organized and ready to go. I spend most of my day meeting with customers and working on estimates. Worst piece of advice he’s ever received... I can’t remember a specific incident where I received bad advice but one thing I have learned is that people will always tell you what to do. You have to trust yourself because people are not always honest. Just stick to your gut and what you believe to be right. Did you know? Spitfire Bar and Grill recently opened a location in Detroit Lakes at 1100 North Shore Dr., Detroit Lakes in the old Spitfire Bar and Grill location.

What keeps him up at night... I am a very light sleeper and I am constantly thinking ahead and planning what needs to get done. I often wake up and write things down so I don’t forget them because I have a lot going on at once. I spend a lot of time worrying and thinking about solutions to problems. What would he give a TED Talk on... I think I would give a motivational TED Talk. I would want to encourage people to be more positive, especially in my work. There is a lot that depends on the weather so there’s only so much I can control. You just have to work hard, do your best to find solutions and keep a positive outlook to just work through life. How the reality of his job differs from people’s perception of it... Many people don’t know about or understand the extensive work that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of customers enjoy working with us and have a smooth experience but there is a lot of planning and work that happens in order to make everything happen. Also, many people are unaware of how much the weather impacts everything we do, especially this year with our late spring and with the

early winter last year. Our season gets cut short and the weather doesn’t care about what we have scheduled. What’s his why... I enjoy making people happy. Valley Landscaping and Spitfire Bar and Grill allow me to provide services and good experiences for customers. There was a lot of hard work in order to make these a possibility. The most important thing for me is a happy customer and I do everything I can to ensure every experience is the best it can be. What part of his job would he use an “easy button” on... If I could control the weather, my job would be tremendously less stressful. This entire business revolves around the weather. Rain often causes delays throughout the summer but it is especially harmful when spring lasts too long or winter comes too early. Though there are struggles, my team and I make the best of everything and if we can’t do one project, we try to work on another. One characteristic he believes every great leader should possess... I think positivity is most important because it really encompasses everything. With a good attitude comes kindness and honesty. People who listen to others are the best role models. Leading by example is extremely important and a good leader has to be able to hold people together and motivate them. One way he fosters creativity within his organizations... I always love to get new ideas both for Valley Landscaping and Spitfire Bar and Grill. I look through landscaping magazines and what other landscapers are doing and pull inspiration from that. I also enjoy going to other restaurants to see what they’re doing well and maybe not so well. Everything is a learning opportunity and I like to explore different ideas and what I could incorporate into my businesses or what I can change for the better. I always tell my customers to think outside of the box. When working with customers, my team and I can sometimes take an idea and turn it into something better than they could have imagined. One local leader he looks up to... I think Steve Scheel is a leader I respect and admire. He was able to build this empire without sacrificing quality and good customer service.



JULY 9 Activate Your Human Resources: Understanding Hiring, Firing and Performance Management 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Dakota Business Lending has started their own free “Activate Women” learning workshop series. Learn from entrepreneurs throughout the community and dive into perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of your business: your human resources.




Bismarck Events Center for Technology and Business 2720 E Broadway Ave #1, Bismarck

JULY 10, 17, 24 AND 31

One Million Cups 9:15 a.m.

Come help create a conversation around startups, business development and economic growth in Bismarck-Mandan. Dakota State 412 E Main Ave, Bismarck

JULY 16 AND 17

The Bakken Conference And Expo

From oil prices to rig counts, the Bakken is in the midst of an unprecedented moment in its short history. Join North American Shale magazine at The Bakken Conference and Expo to learn why oil and gas production in the Williston Basin has entered a new era and how new investment strategies and innovative solutions are influencing the play’s nearand long-term future. Bismarck Events Center 315 5th St. S, Bismarck


Bank of North Dakota 100th Anniversary Celebration 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Join the Bank of North Dakota to celebrate 100 years and for presentations by dignitaries, Pride of Dakota booths and Bank museum tours. Bank of North Dakota 1200 Memorial Hwy, Bismarck



Fargo Events JULY 9 Activate Your Human Resources: Understanding Hiring, Firing and Performance Management 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Dakota Business Lending has started their own free “Activate Women” learning workshop series. Learn from entrepreneurs throughout the community and dive into perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of your business: your human resources. Dakota Business Lending 5630 36th Ave. S, Fargo

JULY 10 Who, Why and How to Engage Generation Z 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

In this session, the Chamber will introduce you to the next generation, Generation Z. By the year 2020, Gen Z will make up 20 percent of our workforce. Hear from a panel of Gen Z’ers! Hjemkomst Center 202 First Ave. N, Moorhead

JULY 17 Chamber Challenge Golf Outing 2019 12:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Get ready for the green! This summer’s annual golf tournament for Chamber members is back. A soldout event the last six years, you won’t want to wait to get registered. Edgewood Golf Course 19th Golf Course Ave. N, Fargo

JULY 10, 17, 24 AND 31 One Million Cups 9:15 a.m.

Join the vibrant entrepreneurial community of Fargo-Moorhead and Emerging Prairie by participating in an event filled with guest speakers, plenty of coffee, ideas and excellent networking opportunities. The Stage at Island Park 333 4th St. S., Fargo


JULY 2019




YPN’s Off the Clock - July

Morning Buzz

Join the Chamber’s Young Professionals Network for their monthly networking happy hour at Doolittles to network with other young professionals while checking out one of Fargo’s great food and beverage establishments.

Join the Young Professionals Network before you start your work day and get your morning caffeine boost. Coffee on your own; networking is free!

5:15 - 7:30 p.m. Doolittles Woodfire Grill 2112 25th St. SW, Fargo

7:30 - 9 a.m. Beans Coffee Bar 2550 South University Dr., Fargo

JULY 30 #RisingAbove: Becoming women who stop criticizing and start mentoring 3:30 - 5 p.m.

Are you looking for ways to grow and develop? Are you wondering what it takes to prepare for career advancement? This session will provide participants with a framework for effective mentoring, an understanding of mentoring roles, a structure to grow from the mentoring experience and practical tips to get started. DoubleTree by Hilton & West Fargo Conference Center 825 East Beaton Dr, West Fargo


There will be local, national and global thought leaders who will be sharing their ideas on the main stage to help solve challenges and create possibilities. We want to empower people to be solution-oriented, believing that ideas can change the way the world works. We want to encourage you to listen to new ideas, find a topic that you’re passionate about and then take action to protect those ideas so they can grow and flourish in the community and beyond. Fargo Civic Center 207 4th St. N, Fargo

Business After Hours - August 2019 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Want a place you can cool off from the summer heat? Step inside to Business After Hours, the region’s largest networking event. Join us for a great time over apps, networking and fun! Avalon Events Center 1080 28th Ave. S, Moorhead



Grand Forks Events JULY 17 2019 July Brown Bag: Optimism 101 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

When organizations go through periods of change, employees can often feel challenged and even frustrated, how do you remain optimistic during times of change? What strategies will help you boost morale? Optimism 101 will provide you with tips to foster optimism and a tool kit to navigate change. The Chamber of Commerce GF/EGF 202 N 3rd St. Ste. 100, Grand Forks

JULY 18 Business After Hours 4:45-7 p.m.

Business After Hours is free for Chamber Members to attend. It is a great way to unwind after work, meet up with friends and make new contacts.

JULY 25 Chamber of Commerce City to Farm Tour 2019 4-5:30 p.m.

The Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce is traveling past the city limits for a “City to Farm Tour” at the Adams Family Farm. Attendees will get a chance to tour the machine sheds, farm equipment and get an up-close look at this year’s crops. They have also invited US House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Collin Peterson to give the group a brief update on the Ag Industry. Adams Family Farm 20717 430th Ave. SW, East Grand Forks


Minot Events JULY 9 Activate Your Human Resources: Understanding Hiring, Firing and Performance Management

Tuesday, July 9 from 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Dakota Business Lending has started their own free “Activate Women” learning workshop series. Learn from entrepreneurs throughout the community and dive into perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of your business: your human resources. Minot Public Library 516 2nd Ave SW, Minot

Wahpeton Events JULY 10 Business Start Up Course 5-7 p.m.

Would you like to start a business but are not really sure how to begin? This free event is for you. Join the Southern Valley Economic Development Authority for their Business Start Up Course where they will go over the basics of starting your own business and help answer any questions you may have. Boiler Room 404 Dakota Ave, Wahpeton, N.D.

Thoughts from the experts

“The adage, “the more we give the happier we feel” holds true for volunteering for a non-profit or service organization plus business and networking activities. When you volunteer to plan, greet, introduce or usher at an event, you get the benefit of the content, plus a feeling of purpose and connection to the community you’re serving.” - Rachel Asleson, co-owner of Reach Partners. * Reach Partners helps organizations hold standout events and manage successful projects.

Profile for Spotlight Media

Fargo INC! July 2019  

You're an expert in your industry. That's why you became an entrepreneur. But, you don't know anything about corporate structure, tax filing...

Fargo INC! July 2019  

You're an expert in your industry. That's why you became an entrepreneur. But, you don't know anything about corporate structure, tax filing...