Five Entrepreneurs Complete the Entrepreneur Fund’s ASCeND Leadership Development Program in Duluth

Duluth, Minnesota – January 16, 2018: The Entrepreneur Fund is pleased to announce five area business owners completed the organization’s ASCeND Leadership Development Program. ASCeND is designed to help like-minded business owners develop their own style of leadership.

“This was a great group and a truly transformational program,” said Candi Broeffle, Entrepreneur Fund consultant. “Everyone has their own style of leadership, and through the ASCeND coursework, business owners hone in on their strengths to become more effective leaders.”

Duluth ASCeND Graduates
Duluth ASCeND Graduates

Duluth-based business owners completing the six-session series included:

“Taking part of the ASCeND class allowed me to gain the skills necessary to more effectively communicate while delegating tasks and building my team,” said Dan Neff, owner of Lake Superior Art Glass. “It was a valuable course and a great follow up to Be Strategic: Grow Your Business. I would highly recommend taking the time to attend these classes.”

The ASCeND program is an interactive, six-session program that provides entrepreneurs with simple, practical tools to become more effective leaders. At the end of the program, business owners will have completed a professional development plan targeted at understanding their personal leadership style and leveraging it to drive business success. ASCeND is available to business owners who have completed Be Strategic: Grow Your Business. For more information on the ASCeND program, please visit

The Be Strategic program is a six-session series providing business owners with a long-term strategic plan, improved marketing, finance and management skills and a strong network of regional business peers. Participants are paired with an experienced Entrepreneur Fund Business Advisor for counsel in implementing their strategic plans and accessing other resources such as financing to execute their growth strategies. For more information about the Be Strategic program, please visit

Entrepreneur Fund seeks a Grants Manager

The Entrepreneur Fund is an economic development organization committed to growing the regional economy by boosting the abilities of the region’s business owners seeking growth. We provide business loans up to $500,000 and strategic services to entrepreneurs in 11 counties of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Our vision is to have vibrant communities across our region that are created and sustained by entrepreneurs.


The Entrepreneur Fund seeks a Grants Manager to fully execute our grant cycles, from beginning to end, while maintaining a robust data collection process of Entrepreneur Fund activities and our clients. This role is critical to growing our stable base of funding, exceeding funder expectations, and ensuring accurate and complete data about the organization’s activities and impact.


  • Write funding proposals to foundations, corporations, and sources of loan capital. Create concise, compelling written funding requests through the use of narrative, data, client stories, research, and visuals to make effective funding proposals. Funders include government, foundations, individuals, corporations, and financial institutional investors. (20%)
  • Prospect funding sources and prepare information for exceptional applications. (20%)
  • Perform grant and funder research to identify potential funding sources that are a strategic fit and meet the goals of the organization.
  • Mine, collect, and catalog relevant internal data and 3rd party statistics, reports, and studies to inform grant proposals. This includes regional data, small business data, articles, research, client stories, and trends in entrepreneurship.
  • Maintain and execute a grants management calendar to ensure the timely submission of letters of inquiry, proposals, grant agreements, and reports for all funding sources. (25%)
  • Execute our data collection process and manage software systems to consistently and accurately track activity data, required grant information, client information, demographic information, and other compliance data. (30%)
  • Provide software training, troubleshooting, and support for staff as needed.
  • Create, pull, and distribute monthly reports to aid management in meeting grant and organizational performance objectives.
  • Update and distribute weekly performance metric scorecards for leadership team, advisory team, and lending team.
  • Provide fundraising support to CEO and Board of Directors in reaching out to and engaging funding sources. (5%)

Measures of Success:

  • Number of applications submitted
  • Number of applications funded
  • 100% funder compliance and timeliness of funder reports
  • Accurate and complete internal reports –grant performance, activities, and demographics.

Ideal Candidate Profile:

The right person will bring their talents and skills of writing, research, and a need for structure and match it with their passion for small businesses and serving the rural communities across our 11-county service area. They will bring a keen understanding of the importance of quality, consistent data tracking and collection along with an interest in the effective utilization of technology.

Required Talents:

  • The ability to write creatively. To be concise, vivid, and compelling through storytelling and data.
  • Strong analytical talents. The ability to pair a narrative with reality through data and research.
  • Detail-oriented, accurate and thorough.
  • Must have the ability to impose structure, be planful, and set-up recurring routines with a focus on timelines and deadlines.
  • An on-going desire to learn and improve. We have big goals and ambitions and are looking for the right person to grow with us as we grow our fundraising.

Required skills and knowledge

  • Excellent writing, analytical, and research skills used and developed in a fundraising setting. A track record in successfully securing resources.
  • Mastery of MS Word and Excel.
  • Ability to read, analyze, and interpret government grant criteria & regulations
  • Ability to interpret foundation criteria, values, and intentions.
  • Ability to construct budgets and compile financial reports for grant requests and reports.
  • Ability to read and understand non-profit financial statements. Ability to convey basic non-profit financial health and ratios into requests.
  • Proficiency in database or non-profit software system design and usage. Must be able to understand and manipulate the system, to ensure inputs result in the desired outputs for meaningful activity and demographic reports.
  • Proficiency in non-profit data collection practices.


  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher is required
  • At least 3 years’ experience and a track record in institutional fundraising and grant writing is required.
  • Experience in activity tracking software such as MS Access, Outcome Tracker, or SalesForce is preferred.

Entrepreneur Fund Core Values:

Get things done

  • Be organized & efficient
  • Work hard – persist & maintain your focus.
  • Stay focused
  • Ask for help before the end.

Mutually commit

  • Commit to the committed – customers, staff, communities, and partners.
  • Commitment is demonstrated, not perceived.
  • Give everyone a chance to show it.
  • Believe what they show you
  • Do your part.
  • Expect lasting results from relationships.
  • Have the hard conversations.

Effective teamwork

  • Take great satisfaction in meeting team goals.
  • Strive for team excellence – suggest improvements, learn from failures.
  • Organizational strength is fortified through each member’s performance.
  • Keep your communication open, genuine, and honest.
  • No blame or disrespect.
  • Celebrate our wins and give specific praise.

Commit to the Greater Good

  • Impact is our motivator: entrepreneurs & community.
  • Do what is better for the whole
  • Shine a light on real progress.
  • Be of service to change-makers & doers.
  • Walk away from the toxic.

To apply, visit or send your resume and cover letter to

Currently Hiring: Business Advisor and Women’s Business Alliance Director

The Entrepreneur Fund is expanding.

Since 1989, we have worked with entrepreneurs to help them achieve success and grow their businesses. Now it is our turn to grow. We are currently hiring for two full-time positions: a Business Advisor and our Women’s Business Alliance Director.

The Business Advisor works with small business owners to achieve their business goals. The selected individual will provide direct consulting, guide the client’s development and serve as a trusted advisor to the small business owner. The Business Advisor facilitates the long-term relationship with clients and offers a key access point for a variety of Entrepreneur Fund services appropriate to their needs. This position is based out of our Hibbing office.

We are also seeking an experienced entrepreneur to lead the Women’s Business Alliance (WBA). The WBA is committed to increasing the income, influence, and leadership of women entrepreneurs in our region. The WBA Director leads the initiative, recruits women entrepreneurs, provides training consulting and EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System) services. Responsibilities include program management, overseeing consultants, as well as providing direct training and individual consulting. This position is based out of our Duluth office.

We are excited for the opportunity to expand our staff in order to further advance economic development in our region. We thank the community for allowing us to continue our mission, and we look forward to meeting our new staff members.

For more information and to apply for these positions, please click on these links:

Business Advisor

Women’s Business Alliance Director

Ignite #4: Cindra Kamphoff


Forum 4 | 10 Habits of High Performers | Cindra Kamphoff

Our fourth forum helps us reveal the top traits that position leaders for success.

Cindra’s proven strategies guide women in business to overcome the odds, live with purpose and reach their ultimate best.

Her forum covers:

  • Mastering thoughts, feelings and actions
  • Dealing with the unexpected
  • Owning your WHY
  • Focusing on what you can control
  • Designing your life intentionally

Check out Cindra’s video for yourself.

Register Now

Ignite Forum #3 – Barbara Churchill

Forum 3 | Do You Hear Voices? Let Go of Doubt and Tap into Confidence | Barbara Churchill
January 17 & 18

Our third forum focuses on finding your voice and directing your future. You’ll learn to tune into your true voice while tuning out your negative voice.

Barbara’s powerful message helps build wise, compassionate and confident leaders. Her forum covers:

  • What is that negative voice in your head and why is it there?
  • How to identify when it shows up and what to do about it
  • Tools to manage self-sabotage
  • How to tap into your inner wise leader

Check out Barbara’s video below:

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24hr Bookkeeper – A Hibbing, Minnesota Success Story

When you think of Hibbing, Minnesota, “award-winning business consulting” may not come to mind – but it should. Karine Woodman, of 24hr Bookkeeper, has built a globally recognized accounting services firm located right in the heart of Hibbing.

By embracing technology and providing expert services for payroll, bookkeeping and QuickBooks™ training, Woodman and her team have quickly become sought-after business consultants, and 24hr Bookkeeper was recently named Intuit’s Global Firm of the Future. As the U.S. finalist, the company competed with finalists from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Setting the company apart from the competition was the ability to integrate third-party software and apps with QuickBooks, and having a cloud-based approach to accounting services.

To Woodman, business accounting services translates into something more meaningful, helping people.

We’re in the business of being trusted,” Woodman says. “We take care of people’s babies, their financials, and that takes a lot of trust. We truly care, and want our clients to be successful.”

Woodman knows being a business owner can be a lonely place, and strives to create simple and efficient workflows for her clients, so they can better understand their business financials. And because, her business regularly happens via video conference, Woodman can help business owners from across the nation – and does – all from her office in Hibbing.

Woodman founded 24hr Bookkeeper to help businesses on the Iron Range manage accounting, payroll and QuickBooks. Fast-forward seven years and the team provides consulting services to businesses across the nation. 24hr Bookkeeper has positioned itself to clients in all industries, but finds majority of their clientele are in the construction, professional services, healthcare and hospitality industries.

Over the past year, Woodman has worked with the Entrepreneur Fund, assisting and facilitating training with their clients in the areas of QuickBooks and financial services. Soon after her facilitation began, Woodman started working with an Entrepreneur Fund business advisor for her own company. She knew the level she wanted to bring her business to, and found value in the advice and guidance she was receiving from her business advisor. Having support from someone with actual small-business experience helped Woodman systemize her operations and streamline 24hr Bookkeeper’s fast-paced growth.

24hr Bookkeeper is a perfect example that living in a smaller town doesn’t (and shouldn’t) limit a business owner’s potential for success. Networking, getting your business out there and embracing technological approaches to conducting business, allows entrepreneurs to grow their business well beyond their expectations.

Restaurant Enterprise Sweeps the Range

Jessica and Erik Lietz are becoming household names across the Iron Range for their ambitious and exemplary work revitalizing restaurants like The Whistling Bird in Gilbert and Boomtown Woodfire in Eveleth. And because owning and operating two restaurants in two different cities isn’t keeping them busy enough, they’re working on a new restaurant concept in Hibbing.

The Process

The Lietz’s love what they do, from start to finish – and they take great pride in offering new and unique dining experiences to communities on the Iron Range. It’s a lot of work for the couple, but it’s the kind of work that makes the them tick.

Rather than purchasing existing restaurants that are currently in operation, or building from the ground up, the Lietz’s choose to purchase restaurant properties that are bank-owned. This approach allows them to have creative freedom without the extensive costs and overhead that can be associated with new construction.

Although they buy existing properties, there is still a lot of revitalization involved in bringing a closed restaurant back to life. The Lietz’s think carefully about what their customers might want and need with every new concept they create. Oftentimes, to put their own touches on décor and layout, the entire space must be gutted and the kitchen must be rebuilt.

“There’s something so exciting about what we do,” said Jessica Lietz. “There’s an adrenaline rush in the restaurant industry – we get to create our own destiny. We have creative freedom to see our visions through from start to finish.”

Creating new menu options comes with a bit experimentation, but the Leitz’s always keep old standards in the mix, too. They feel the most important thing is to invite people to try new things, while still providing an element of familiarity.

The Leitz’s say it’s always exciting to open a new restaurant to the public, and both The Whistling Bird and Boomtown Woodfire have been very well received in their communities. Chatter started early in Hibbing – even before the Lietz’s had made an offer on the vacant downtown space – which goes to show the community of Hibbing is looking forward to having a new dining option.

The Outcome

In addition to introducing creative dining options, the Lietz’s are helping local economies thrive by providing numerous jobs. They currently have about 60 employees, and with the addition of their new Hibbing restaurant, the total will be over 100.

Jessica Lietz says the restaurant industry is always hiring and there always seems to be a shortage in both kitchen and front of the house staff. It usually takes her a while to get new staff members in place and up to speed on operations. The new restaurant in Hibbing is still in the planning phase, but will present exciting new opportunities for the region. Luckily, some staff from Boomtown Woodfire in Eveleth will transfer to Hibbing, so the Lietz’s are expecting that training will go smoothly from the get-go.

Help Along the Way

Both Erik and Jessica have extensive experience in the restaurant industry, but found that it isn’t always easy to find financial assistance. The failure rate in restaurants trends high, and many banks can’t offer loans or want to assume the risk.

With creative financing options, the Entrepreneur Fund provided funding for Boomtown Woodfire, and connected them with experts to help with other important business operations like payroll processing and bookkeeping.

“The Entrepreneur Fund is there to help business owners,” said Jessica. “They want to help local entrepreneurs succeed, and they’ll do whatever they can to help push your vision forward.”

Live & Lead a Life of Impact | Annie Meehan

Forum 2 | Live & Lead a Life of Impact | Annie Meehan
December 13 & 14

Our second forum is all about how the personal and professional lives of business owners overlap. How do we do it all and stay positive?

Annie’s message challenges audiences to take action, move forward and lead a life of IMPACT:

  • Intentional Living – How to set the intention in the morning for the day
  • Make It Happen – It’s not magic
  • Purpose – Finding your why
  • Adaptability – Dealing with change
  • Commitment – Staying the course
  • Tools – What’s in your toolbox?

Check out Annie’s video below:

Register Now

The New Face of Human Resources

Small businesses oftentimes don’t have the capacity to have an entire department dedicated to Human Resources (HR). Instead, HR is managed by business owners who are simultaneously keeping up with sales, accounting, marketing and the day-to-day tasks essential to running their business.

HR is a critical component of business management.

HR is so much more than just benefits administration. It’s more than dealing with conflicts as they arise, or making sure your employees make competitive wages.

In fact, many agree that HR needs to be considered in the overall strategy and direction of a business. James Kosur, C-suite editor at Business Insider, suggests HR is no longer just about benefits and administration. It is now an extension of a business strategy and has become a business partner that can make or break a company – read the full article HERE. Approaching goals and strategies with HR in mind will help business owners effectively recruit and hire employees with the skills and knowledge needed for success.

It’s not uncommon to see business owners become overwhelmed with the prospect of HR. There’s a lot to know, but oftentimes it’s what you don’t know that can really hurt you.

HR doesn’t have to be a daunting. It is a vital aspect of running a business that owners need to consider. As soon as you have employees – and are no longer a “solopreneur” – you need to have HR on your radar.

A small business probably doesn’t have a HR department, let alone the ability to dedicate one full person to an HR role. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners need assistance with the “nuts and bolts” piece of HR, and there are great resources available.

“Outsourcing” doesn’t have to mean a big expense, but rather means bringing in outside professionals to help in specific areas of your business. You might hire a marketing firm for a particular campaign or a sales strategy, so why not hire an HR consultant to help you better understand which policies and practices are important to implement or refine?

An outside HR professional can provide perspective and assistance with, what we’ve found to be, the top 5 HR pain points:

  • Attracting and retaining talent
  • Managing and training employees
  • Performance reviews and assessments
  • Understanding employment laws
  • Documenting important employee events – hiring and firing

More than anything, it’s important to remember that HR is about being fair in the way you run your business. It’s critical to be fair in your hiring practices, the training you make available, the way you treat employees and the way you document successes, as well as challenges and conflicts.

Download the tip sheet for our break down on our top 5 HR pain points – your business might just thank you later.


Think, Manage and Innovate Smarter

All around our region, women entrepreneurs are working hard every day to balance running a business with everyday life. You can have it all, but that doesn’t mean it is easy – and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own.

The Entrepreneur Fund’s Women’s Business Alliance (WBA) exists to provide a powerful nexus for strategic support, capital, and networking for regional women business owners. We want to help your business succeed and connect you with other women entrepreneurs who’ve been there. That’s why we created the IGNITE Forums, and are excited to bring five high-profile women to share their experiences and insights.

Last year, Dr. Erika Garms shared her secrets to translating neuroscience and scientific theory into organizational performance and workplace effectiveness. She knows that leaders can positively impact their workplace by understanding how brains process change. She calls it a “brain-friendly” workplace, and knows that this model helps leaders to bring out the best in their staff.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or employee, Dr. Garms’ work will help you develop a healthy, positive and high-performing workplace. Interested in developing a brain-friendly company?

Listen to 2017 IGNITE speaker Dr. Cindra Kamphoff interview Dr. Erika Garms.

The 2016-2017 IGNITE Forums will kick off with Rebecca Undem on Living and Working BIG. Part rural America expert, part corporate America misfit; Undem helps leaders embrace the quirks and challenges of living and working outside the metropolis.

Mark your calendars – Undem will speak in Duluth on November 15, 2016 at the Holiday Inn and in Grand Rapids on November 16, 2016 at the Timberlake Lodge.

Register for the Ignite Forums below.