10 Ways Minnesota Culture Can Hurt Your Business (And How to Overcome it!)

10 Ways Minnesota Culture Can Hurt Your Business (And How to Overcome it!)

This may be somewhat of a “controversial” post but I think it needs to be said and more importantly needs to be pointed out and talked about, as well as put in our minds and keep tabs on. The more you understand your audience, the better you can reverse engineer your marketing to overcome obstacles.

Minnesota is a very I’d say “traditional” state. Coming from Scandinavian origins, many of the cultural norms around here are different than many other parts of the country and while we find some things normal, foreigners and visitors may find them strange.

I wanted to share a few aspects  of Minnesota life that can not only be hard, but can be downright difficult for entrepreneurs & small businesses. 

Being an entrepreneur is a risk always & it definitely takes a certain kind of person. Here’s 10 ways Minnesota culture can hurt your business & tips for each one to overcome that obstacle.

1. The “Potluck (trade) Mentality” 

Churchs & community groups for hundreds of years in Minnesota have had potlucks where everyone pitches in. While this helps for feeding people, this mentality can go beyond just an actual potluck. Many times people want to trade for things instead of paying anything out of pocket.  

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

If you want to provide the entire meal for a large price, many people aren’t willing to pay. They want to do something in exchange.

How do we overcome this?

Saying no to “most” trades. The more we trade and don’t value our piece of the puzzle the less our business will seem of value. Obviously there are points trades work, but at some point you need to start charging.

2. The “DIY Everything”

Now I wouldn’t call Minnesotans cheap per se, but I would call them crafty. I believe many Minnesotans would rather do things themselves than pay for anything. If it takes time, that’s ok. “I don’t need help I can do it myself”

That has been the way at least in my family & culture. When you don’t have a lot of money, you learn to do with what you have. & I think that temperament has become part of the culture. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Well mainly because they are less likely to hire out. They can do it themselves. This hurts people that are service based and looking for people to pay them to help.

How do we overcome this?

I’ve found by providing people with education on ways to DIY their business, it really makes sense to more people than hiring it out and not even understanding what they are doing.

My DIY courses help me make money but allow people to still DIY their business.

3. The “I’ll Go If It’s Free”

When starting doing events, our free events would bring so many people. But once we added even a small amount of money to it, the people interested would drop like flies. Why is this?

To many, “free” is what they are looking for. There’s nothing but time that is lost. Plus it’s an easy bail if “something comes up”

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Obviously things need to get paid in order to function. By providing things for free, our businesses tend to not grow and many events cannot happen. 

How do we overcome this?

We at Twin Cities Collective have started to do this by actually charging for events, but slowly building this overtime. At first we didn’t charge a lot, but slowly we’ve built the pricing as we’ve found that there’s a threshold people are willing to pay & value must be part of it to get any sales at all.]

4. The “Traditional” Jobs & Culture

Minnesota is very well known for it’s technology, but mostly in the medicine, food & science areas.

3M, Cargill, CHS, United Healthcare, Supervalu, Medtronic. These are what many in the state work for & move here for, as well as train in college to work for.

At my college, the biggest majors were business, nursing, & education, very traditional types of jobs. My degree, Media Communication, I graduated with under 20 people. There was no funding for the “arts”. Other degrees in my school like music were on the verge of getting cut. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?
Traditional jobs are what makes the state run & when you don’t want to follow suit it can be hard to go against the traditions and culture of a state that is very much following a specific suit.

How do we overcome this?

Doing it anyway. The more people that find employment through themselves or with other industries, the more it will become mainstream.

5. The “Scandinavian Influence”

Minnesota has the most Scandinavian out of any state in the country. This has influenced a lot more than you’d realize. 

Being 76% Scandinavian and having a strong sense of Scandinavian influences in my church, family and state, sometimes you don’t always realize it. 

A few things Scandinavian culture brings




How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Privacy is an extremely popular thing amongst Scandanavians & I know the generations & social media are changing things, but it still exists

Stubbornness makes it hard to change people’s minds.

How do we overcome this?

Social media and influences from other cultures slowly changes how culture is defined. I think by following what works for you & going against the features you don’t like helps.

6. The “Transplant Conundrum” 

I’ve heard on many occasions from non-locals who have moved into town how hard it is to break into the community. The cliques, decades long friendships and a lack of need to make new friends from locals have made it hard to meet friends and fit in. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Not having a broad network is a total misstep for anyone in any business, but especially entrepreneurs, as referrals and word of mouth are lifeblood.

How do we overcome this?

Probably a bit of a self promo plug, but my community Twin Cities Collective, I believe, is changing this culture and allowing for people to connect no matter where they are from. No cliques. Just friends. 

7. The “Minnesota Nice”

It’s actually the opposite. Minnesota nice is actually our passive aggressive culture. Act nice then turn your back and gossip. 

This can make it hard to know who’s being real vs fake on the outside but is secretly a snake.

As an empath, I quickly learned how to figure this out. I could sense people’s inner & true meanings and it made it very hard to find true friends, as I could see past people. This made them mad and didn’t help anything. 

Finding quality people is a skill I think I’ve found over time. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Dealing with fakeness & pettiness is never helpful for business

How do we overcome this?

Reward those who are truly honest and a decent human being

8. The “Friends and Family Discount”

This is something that happens across the nation for many small business owners, especially photographers. It’s called the “Friends and family” discount. Many times friends and family want your services, but because they know you they expect a discount. This not only lowers your friends self worth but also can cause many to feel dissatisfied with the outcome. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

It definitely is someone taking advantage and doesn’t have the person’s best interest at heart. I’ve heard so many stories of how this has negatively affected small business owners. 

How do we overcome this?

The next time you see a friend selling something, pay full price. It will benefit them more than you as you are not the person who is the main client in this scenario, your friend and the future of their journey is.

9. The “I’m Sorry” Culture

Apologizing for just about everything is something both Canada and Minnesota are stereotyped doing. But it’s actually true. We always, especially women, seem to apologize for just about everything, even when it’s not our fault.

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

This hurts our self value and self worth & many times won’t let us live up to our potential

How do we overcome this?

Stop saying sorry. Rephrase it. There’s so many ways to stop taking the blame and responsibility.

10. The “Fear of Self Promotion”

This one is one I really want to work on in at least my group.

  • Fear of being on video

  • Fear of sharing what they do

  • Fear of sharing their achievements on FB for their friends and family

  • Fear of actually stepping outside the box.

Honestly I think one of the reasons I’ve done well is I actually talk about myself. Shock!! I share what  I do & what I’ve accomplished. People don’t do enough of it and it’s kind of rare. 

How does this hurt entrepreneurs?

Being afraid to share your business will kill it. Enough said

How do we overcome this?

Knowing people do care and want to see what your doing, as long as it’s not salesy & it’s real. Removing the people in your life who are naysayers, jealous or just not there for your business.

And actually doing it!!

5 Things that Minnesotans are good at that help entrepreneurs

  1. State & local pride
    People from Minnesota love being from MN and will represent it with all their power. It’s great for locally themed businesses for sure.

  2. Hearty & all season strength

    Living through Minnesota winters has made many Minnesotans extremely strong people. That makes us able to face anything!

  3. Sincerely nice people

    While Minnesota nice exists, so do really genuine and sincere people. The more you meet people like that, the more they introduce you to their friends.
    It’s definitely like Where’s Waldo, but I love it!

  4. Meaningful & sacrificial relationships
    People in Minnesota definitely have sacrificial tendencies, which can benefit many. Don’t give your entire being away, but by giving and sharing your gifts, you can truly help people who are grateful.

  5. Large creative community

    While the Twin Cities doesn’t seem that creative, it actually is. There are many many creative agencies and it’s considered one of the most creative cities in the US. It’s just kind of secret. I’m hoping to take that out in the open

    I’d love to know your thoughts. Comment below which of these is hardest to overcome??

10 Ways Minnesota Culture Can Hurt Your Business (And How to Overcome it!)