What Small Business Needs to Know Now: Looking Beyond the Horizon

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What Small Business Needs to Know Now: Looking Beyond the Horizon

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer recommendations - positive word of mouth - are the most powerful factor in buying decisions. That reality should have everything to do with how you think about your business.
  • The quality of your work is what drives customer recommendations. That quality isn’t separate from your marketing strategy - it should be the core of your marketing strategy.
  • Most of us make things much more complicated than they need to be or should be. To simplify your strategy and the way you think about your business is to improve your competitiveness.


Joe Calloway helps leaders, owners, and entrepreneurs make great companies even better. He helps organizations focus on what is truly important, inspires new thinking about challenges and opportunities, and motivates people to immediate action.

Joe is the Executive In Residence at Belmont Univeristy's Center For Entrepreneurship. He is a business author, consultant and speaker whose client list reads like an international Who’s Who in business, ranging from Coca Cola and Verizon to Cadillac and American Express. Joe also works with small to mid-sized business groups including franchisees, medical practices, law firms, and a range of professional services groups.


Connor Wray is a Co-Founder and the Chief Financial Officer at Jonny Pops, LLC. Connor has been with JonnyPops since the company’s inception at St. Olaf College in 2011, and has occupied nearly every type of role within the organization from sales calls to the warehouse floor. Connor currently leads the financial and administrative functions at JonnyPops, overseeing the company’s day to day bookkeeping operations, treasury management, corporate governance, and human resources as well as long term strategic planning and business development functions. Since taking on the business full-time in May of 2014, Connor has led the team that won the Student Division of the Minnesota Cup, launched a club program with Costco Wholesale, and raised over half a million dollars in private equity financing. Connor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Olaf College with Distinction in Economics and Computer Science.

Joe Stanton is an entrepreneur and customer experience expert. He is co-founder & CEO of Elevate, the world’s best customer engagement platform for restaurants, retailers and hotels. Prior to Elevate, Joe successfully helped brands such as Best Buy, Panera, Walgreens and Wendy’s leverage customer feedback to improve the customer experience and grow unit sales.Elevate was the winner of the High Tech Division of the MN Cup in 2014.

Julie Allinson, the Founder and President of  Eyebobs, has always had her own style and entrepreneurial leanings. In her early 40s, she struggled to read spreadsheets and realized that she needed reading glasses. In her search, she found two options – drugstore cheaters or expensive prescription readers. She immediately saw a niche and jumped in to create fashionable, high-quality reading glasses. In 2001, Julie started eyebobs to design readers for people like her, the irreverent and slightly jaded. Today, Julie employs 34 people at eyebobs world headquarters. She is an active member of WPO, member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable and is a proud supporter of public radio.