Erik Skogquist, City Council member, Anoka, Minnesota, A Dot Com Magazine Exclusive Interview
Erik Skogquist is a City Council member in Anoka, Minnesota. His deep community roots prompted him to return to his hometown and participate in local government.
Skogquist attended the University of Minnesota, where he received a Political Science and Urban Studies degree. He credits his college experience with the inspiration to stay in Minnesota and become an important part of the local community.
With deep community roots, Skogquist takes an interest in several volunteer organizations located in Anoka. He and his wife Amanda are involved with the PTO, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, T-ball, and other civic boards and organizations.
Erik Skogquist is also an expert property appraiser, working to preserve historic buildings in Anoka and in the surrounding area. His interest in local history gives him a unique perspective in this field of work.
As a member of the City Council, Skogquist has been involved in many exciting community initiatives. The city of Anoka is a forward-looking community, and questions of development are considered with an open mind. Council members like Erik Skogquist make sure that the town preserves good relationships with its residents as well as the business community.
Skogquist moved back to Anoka to raise a family because he believes that it is an ideal place to do so. Surrounded by family and community, the residents of Anoka are fortunate to enjoy proximity to the Twin Cities as well as a quiet small-town atmosphere.
Lets start by telling us about your business.
I work for the City of Anoka, Minnesota. I am a member of the City Council. Our city is focused on providing a safe, healthy environment for our residents as well as supporting the business community. We have excellent schools and a vibrant community atmosphere. Anoka is a great place to live and work. Many of our residents also commute to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, so we have an interest in what goes on there as well.
Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
People become fans of Anoka because we provide a warm, friendly local atmosphere. Anoka is a great place to raise a family. We have a variety of exciting local events each year, which will be reinstated after the COVID crisis has finally resolved.
It can be difficult for local residents to make a personal connection with their town government, but in Anoka, we have committed to being transparent and easy to contact. Local residents know that they can contact their city council members at any time and receive solid answers to their questions. We also encourage public input at all of our meetings.
Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition?
Anoka is head and shoulders above the other communities in our area because we have a true commitment to preserving our history while moving into the future. I have a personal interest in the towns history, and I am dedicated to making sure that the areas historic character is not forgotten.
And to finish this section, please tell us what is the one major key to your companys success?
The key to Anokas success lies in its people. Our people are the driving force behind all community events. We work to make sure that our young people are receiving an excellent education so that they can move forward to whatever career they most enjoy. Of course, we hope that our young people will come back to Anoka and settle with their families.
For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
If youre just starting to build a company, you understand that it is a difficult undertaking. Its not enough to have a great idea, you have to back that up with a quality team and a solid plan for making money.
One of the most important things that you can do when you are getting started as a business owner is to write a comprehensive business plan. Without a business plan, it will be next to impossible to get investment in your business. You need to know where your revenues are coming from and how you are going to spend this money in your budget. You also need to have the organization of your company mapped out so that there is a clear chain of command.
For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what one big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
When business gets challenging, I would advise your readers to get back to basics. If youre having a problem with a certain business area, you need to break it down and understand whats going wrong. You cant just bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is fine. You have to build your business on solid foundations, and that means being honest with yourself when things are not going right.
In todays fast-changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I have a young family, so I dont have loads of time to spend on reading business news or watching news programs on TV. I would rather spend quality time at home with my young children. For this reason, it can be tough to keep up with business news and events. I have a strong professional network that I can rely on when I need to know whats going on.
What is your Why? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
My family is my number-one concern, closely followed by the city of Anoka. I have a strong belief in putting my family first. I have great role models in this area. My parents and grandparents always modeled what it meant to have a strong family.
After my family, the city is my next area of concern. I want the city to grow while retaining its charming historical character.
In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
To be a great leader, you have to take your followers concerns seriously. Too many people think that being a leader means that it is all about yourself. That couldnt be further from the truth. It is about using your talents and abilities to enhance your company. You need to be open-minded about new ways of doing business, and you need to delegate responsibilities to your employees.
In one sentence, describe how important your customers are to your business?
As a city government, our customers can be thought of as city residents. Everything we do is in service of our city residents and business community. Everyone knows about city governments that have not always had their residents best interests in mind, and we try to be as far from that sorry state as possible.
In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
Technology can help children learn about the world. In the middle of the COVID pandemic, we are learning just how much children can adapt to an online teaching environment. Technology can bring resources from all around the world to every childs computer screen.
In one sentence, tell us how something positive to motivate our readers?
When things are difficult, I have a few positive thoughts to keep in mind. The first is Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Even though you feel like youre going nowhere, you are building future success.
The next positive thought that I keep in mind is Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you. I believe that having ideals is one of the most important things about being in business. If your business has an exciting idea, you will be able to succeed.
In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?
I am a morning person and usually I wake up before everyone else and catch up on some news. But once the kids are up, I spend time getting them breakfast and getting them ready for school. When I get to work, I spend the morning catching up on emails and oftentimes have phone calls or meetings throughout the day. In the evening, about once a week there are City Council meetings.
In one sentence, describe how you handle rejection and setback?
Rejection is something that everyone has to deal with from time to time. Its a good idea to step back and be impartial about what happened. You cant let your personal emotions get in your way. You may have made a mistake that caused you to be overlooked. If you can look rationally at your problem, you may be able to avoid running into it in the future.
In one sentence, describe what your hiring philosophy is?
When I am hiring people, I want to know about their problem-solving skills. Experience, to me, is less important than whether a person is able to think on their feet. I also look for creativity. The ability to get along with many different types of coworkers is important as well.
Many city positions are filled by people who know somebody, but I feel that these applicants arent always the best fit. If they are being considered because they have personal connections to someone in government, theres no guarantee that they will have the skills and talents necessary to get the job done. I think that this type of hiring should be carefully regulated on the city level.
In one sentence, describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
Being a City Council member, having a family, and running a small business means that I often feel the stress and pressure of holding it all together. It can be hard to maintain sanity. The best way that I know is to spend plenty of time with my family. Kids dont care about your public accomplishments; they just want to know that they have your quality attention. It can be a tricky balance because I spend a lot of time volunteering for school and activities like Scouts. I have to remember that even though I am working for the good of the organization, that I need to spend time with my kids outside of volunteering as well.
ERIK SKOGQUIST, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR PARTICPAITING IN THE ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT SERIES!