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Author, book signing set at FDLTCC

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is hosting entrepreneur and book author Don Liimatainen, author of “The Black Hole Solution,” from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 31, in the amphitheater on campus.

Released earlier this summer, Liimatainen’s first book offers solutions to entrepreneurs to help eliminate holes and solve struggles a business may experience. Liimatainen will sign books that will be available for purchase at a discounted price as well as give a brief presentation and answer questions. Admission is free and open to the public.

Liimatainen is a former Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College student who started two successful businesses, Ablaze Custom Cleaning and BizGro Marketing, plus he founded the non-profit organization Best Christmas Ever. He is a 2003 graduate of Lincoln High School in Esko and is a former resident of Cloquet who now lives in Esko.

His entrepreneurial work was recognized in 2009 when he received the Micro-Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the prestigious Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards. In 2008, his company Ablaze Custom Cleaning was named a Top-20 Business in the United States owned and operated by a college student. Liimatainen started the company during his time as a student at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Liimatainen’s book centers on the lessons he has learned in starting and growing his successful businesses, plus the work he conducted as a business broker during the recent economic downturn.

“During 2009 and 2010 I had the opportunity to consult with a lot of small business owners in my role as a business broker,” said Liimatainen. A business broker helps business owners position a business for sale. “I would sit down and ask the business owners a series of questions and I was astonished at the gaping holes that existed in their businesses. Those ‘black holes’ would become the basis for me to write this book in order to share ideas and help business owners implement simple strategies to achieve positive results.”

Liimatainen admits that prior to his experience seeing how other small businesses were operating, his view was limited to how he started and operated his businesses. Getting behind the scenes of other small businesses and working with entrepreneurs was an eye-opening experience for him.

“I really only knew what my small business was doing, and what we were doing to be successful as a start-up” said Liimatainen. “I almost fell out of my chair when I learned what a lot of business owners were not doing, and that they did not realize the golden information they were just sitting on and not using to be successful. I wrote this book to help people identify and learn exactly what those black holes are that almost knocked me out of my chair.”

Liimatainen used the Business Incubator resources available through the business program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to help grow his fledgling cleaning company into one with multiple employees, two company vehicles, and an inventory of related equipment. With a business goal to be customer-service oriented and maintain a quality appearance of his employees on the job, he set his standards high. He takes pride in his staff showing up to work sites on time and wearing tidy-looking company polo shirts and khaki pants, and with a happy attitude to go about their work.

Liimatainen started Ablaze Custom Cleaning as work on the side from his full-time overnight hours job at Home Depot. Unexpectedly, referrals and more work came rolling in, and he decided to explore the idea of starting a custom window cleaning business. With help from the Business Incubator at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, he launched his first business and grew it to offer a range of cleaning services, not just windows.

Liimatainen’s enthusiasm and energy is engaging and his stories about helping small businesses are captivating and enlightening. The author and book-signing event at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is a great opportunity to meet and interact with a successful entrepreneur who understands the business climate and market in northern Minnesota.