tv Your Business MSNBC May 7, 2016 2:30am-3:01am PDT
good morning. coming up on msnbc's "your business," we celebrate national small business week with sba administrator marie con trigana air cantrera sweet, and we will tell you about events around the country celebrating main street. a savvy intrapreneur turns a bus terminal into the hottest restaurant in town, and the owner of a company that makes capes gets down to his last dollar and then finds the solution to his company's problems. all that and next on a super edition of "your business." american express open cairn help you take on a new job. or fill a big order.
or expand your office. for those who constantly find new ways to grow on every step of the journey, american express open proudly presents "your business" on msnbc. hi, there, everyone. i am jj ramberg. welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to helping your small business grow. sometimes you thought that idea was a sure thing fails to take off, leaving you deep in debt with tough decisions to make. that was the situation one entrepreneur of a super hero costume company found himself in when his original designs just weren't bringing in sales. but listening to what his customers really wanted, the chance to make their own looks, now has this small business
flying high. ♪ growing up, scott chastain's life was all about sports and superheroes. >> i loved superheroes as a kid, comic books, that's always been something on my hand. going to auburn university i was around collegiate sports, the passionate fans that come into s.e.c. football. >> a landscape expert by trade, when the real estate market crashed and work hit a lull, he decided to take the plunge head first into a passion project, making superhero capes for college sports fans. >> i always thought athletes and superheroes are similar in how we perceive them. >> he set up shop in thomasville, georgia and launched costume company ever fan. scott ordered his first batch of capes from a manufacturer.
it was a crash course in entrepreneurship. one that scott wasn't quite prepared for. >> i remember the day that the products came in. and just seeing all the boxes and just being like, a little bit shocked like, man, that's a lot of product. >> despite the initial interest, things quickly went south. the first shipment came in after the football season had already started. >> we had kind of come in late in the game. football season ended, then sales bottom out. >> getting into the collegiate products industry requires a big outlay of cash. >> with collegiate products you're paying a licensing fee off of every sale. they also make you pay a certain percentage in advance. and so you have to hit a certain number of sales to even pay off those prepaid royalties you've already put into the system. >> on top of it all, even though he had procured ten school licenses, that wasn't enough to get the big collegiate retail stores to pay attention. >> if you don't have the money to get the licensing for every
school, then a lot of scores won't really give you the time of day. >> so two years in, scott found himself deep in debt. >> it got to the point where my wife, we sat down and she was like if sales don't get better, we have $2. you can't keep doing this. >> he was devastated. >> this is a tough thing to have an idea, kind of turning it into reality and it not be a successful like you hoped it would. >> he already put so much into the business, he felt he had to make it work. so he decided to focus on a small part of the business that he had been pretty much ignoring. he had been getting more and more requests from people looking to place personalized orders. and he had been forced to turn the first few of those away. >> at the time, all of my products already had logos on them. i realized a huge mistake i did on my end, i didn't give myself flexibility with the products i had. at that point, i went ahead and placed an order of just plain
superhero capes, eye mask and power bands that we could start doing printing in house. >> it was worth a shot. he shifted all his attention away from his licenses and focused on making capes with customizable options. >> we started on our website. we developed a platform where you could mix and match cape colors and eye mask colors and put different logos, design your own superhero cape. >> he also invested in equipment and staff so he could customize capes in house. >> we were very confident in our ability to fulfill an order, whether it be 50 to 5,000. >> now, ever fan's customers spans from the kid who wants to slay bad guys wearing his own special uniform. >> this is easy to put on and be your own superhero. and it's a mixture of medieval and superhero which is really cool. >> he would sleep in it if he could. >> to bulk orders like the one april walden made in 2015 for her nonprofits superday 5k race.
the capes were a big hit. >> when it was over, everyone kept going on and on, so cute, we've never had a race like this, those capes, the kids running in the capes. even grown adults running down with their different capes on. it was a really cool event. >> it's orders like these that scott hopes will turn into repeat business. >> the goal is to create relationships that will be over long term kind of thing, not a one-time order, something we can count on every year and work with them down the road. >> ever fan doubled in sales in a year. and has finally gotten out of debt enough for scott to think about the future. this is also the first year the company hasn't renewed its collegiate licensing deals. >> it would have been a bad decision to renew those and to try to continue to pursue that. it was just -- it wasn't a profitable thing for us. somewhere down the road, we may get back into it when we're ready financially to go big and to do it right. >> instead, scott's looking forward and expanding the company's product line.
so that it can be the name in customizable costume product. >> our goal was to take the same idea we're doing with the superhero products and expand that into different types of accessories, dress-up accessories, tutus, princess stuff for girls, pirate stuff, the list can go on and on. >> one thing scott will definitely continue to did is try to keep one word out of his vocabulary. >> we try not to tell a customer no. that will help us grow and grow into new markets as well. today marks the start of national small business week, may 1st through may 7th, the nation celebrates the contributions of our small businesses with awards ceremonies, workshops and educational activities. this year's theme is dream big, start small. the head of the u.s. small business administration, administrator maria contrara
sweet talks to us about the highlights of this week. >> thank you. you're such an advocate. >> i remember when the week started it was small, it's grown over the years. >> everybody needs to recognize and celebrate the contributions of small businesses. these are people who have been fighting, perseverance, blood, sweat and tears. they're fueling our communities, our main streets with the really special energy, unique boutiques, destination restaurants. so that's what we're asking people to do, dream small biz if they can't get a job or aren't happy, how can we help them start, grow or repair their business. this is the week we take the time to honor and celebrate those restaurants, those manufacturing places, the mom and pops across the country. what i'm going to did is travel across the country. i'm going to start in
washington, d.c., go to new york, phoenix, denver and then off to california, northern california to join silicon valley. such a hot bed of startups. >> it's easy to celebrate small business. everyone loves the story of the small business person. even more, the entrepreneur that really hit it big, started from nothing in his or her garage and hit it big. as you go around, you and i know it's hard to be a small business owner, right? what are the things you hear right now that are the biggest struggles? >> the biggest thing i'm finding is that we're finally breaking loose some of the capital. we're at historic lending at sba. they really need the right counseling. what we're trying to do is amplify the small business development centers, the score offices, the veteran offices we have to get people the right counseling and right now, what we know is that 95% of the world's consumers are outside of the united states. so we're really encouraging small businesses to take a bold
step and to consider trade. and sba can help guide them through that journey. >> we've been through a few presidential elections on this show. often times what we hear during these election seasons is uncertainty leads to uncertainty. right? we don't know who the next president is going to be, the next administration. as a small business owner, people often say i feel uncertain about my business. should i be hiring? are you seeing that right now? >> you know, i have found even with this contentious political situation we find ourselves in, i have had really positive experience with both on the reap and dem side in terms of getting bills passed, getting our funds raised. it's hard to argue when you're creating billions and billions of dollars of capital and creating lots of jobs, millions of jobs at zero taxpayer cost. i think this is the time that people should feel confident that the u.s. government is there. we've had 73 months of
consecutive job growth. two-thirds of that is coming from the small business community. how can you not get behind that? i am, obviously, you know, i love what president obama has been doing. he raised it up to cabinet. he is amplifying the global opportunities that are there. he's hosting a global ministerial, global entrepreneurship summit in silicon valley in late june. we want to invite everybody out to that. >> and they came out with confidence survey and it's at a low. what do you say to those people? >> what we have to say to them, it is in your own control, that's what entrepreneurship is. it's about getting over obstacles. to me, when i see somebody that has the fervent passion and we can give them the skills, the capital, we can give them access to markets, we control 23% of the federal spend and we direct to to busine
it to businesses. they come in and get certified. we can't induce them to department of defense, energy, education, corporate supply chain and to the international marketplace. i say if you are focused, don't it the let a silly poll drive you away from your dream. >> that's why this week is so great. not only about celebrating small business but to take a step and have people know there are resources out there. if you're having trouble, visit s.c.o.r. >> the most important thing we could be doing is shop small. i don't mean a little. spend a lot at small family owned stores. that's the way we're going to create the uniqueness in our communities and the destinations we all want. >> great to see you. thank you so much for stopping by. >> dream small biz. small business week is the perfect time to recognize the passion that fuels many entrepreneurialists. that passion led to the
life-long dream for a savannah georgia man who purchased a troubled landmark and turned it into a culinary hot spot. nbc's harry smith paid him a visit. >> reporter: her way with food has made savannah's the grey one of the hottest new restaurants in the country. how would you describe the cuisine of the grey? >> southern soul food, european swirl. >> reporter: it's down home ingredients prepared by a highly trained and highly motivated chef. i can confirm, the praise is warranted. >> i just want to make sure that i'm being honest with myself and being honest with the food that i'm cooking. >> reporter: res vagus, especially on the weekends can be hard to come by. people want to eat here but they also want to see the grey. savannah newcomer john, bought the long abandoned bus station and didn't really know what he was going to do with it.
>> i think i'm going to put a restaurant in the 109 mlk. she went, you've officially gone crazy. i started the design work i think the next day. >> reporter: an audacious makeover which was part renovation and part restoration, leaving no doubt to what this had once been, down to the torazzo entry. >> if he can could salvage it in its form, we would. just to have the original logo -- >> stunning. >> it's beyond. >> reporter: the past is present here. >> what was back here? >> we're talking into what was known when the station opened in '38 as the colored waiting room. >> during jim crow, blacks were only allowed through a back door, an irony not lost on chef bailey. >> it's a little bit like being on an island, i think. everyone notices it but me. you know? >> all of this may seem like an unlikely strategy for success. the old bus station, soul food with style.
savannah. >> to be a successful entrepreneur, i think one of the key strengths you need to have is complete naivety. >> it can be more than good. >> it can be great in a year. it's like wisdom. >> it has to sit on the stove for a while t. has to simmer. could be just a flash in the pan. i want to prove we're not that. you shouldn't have to put your work on hold just because you're on the road. ink.com has ink tips to help you stay productive on that next business trip. one, check in with your staff, schedule calls with employees to see how they're doing and get updates on their progress. two, download what you need in advance. you can't count on having wi-fi everywhere you go. use your phone for e-mails and keep everything else offline. three, grow your skills.
set aside a couple of ted talks to listen to on the road. subscribe to podcasts that will keep you up to speed on the latest news in your market. four, stockpile reading material. use your travel time to get caught up on that industry focused newsletter you've been meaning to read or the latest business management book your mentor recommended. five, practice networking. waiting areas can be great places to meet new people. strike up a conversation and brush up on your communication skills. you might even meet your next business contact. in 2001, celebrity lawyer robert shapiro alongside attorneys eddie hartmann, brian lee and brian lu launched legal zoom. they had a vision to disrupt the legal industry. under the guidance of ceo john su, the company is a far cry from its beginnings. it's now the leading legal brand for small businesses and consumers and in 2015 it even
branched out to the uk. we sat down with john to talk about what guides innovation and why boundaries are necessary when disrupting an industry. ♪ >> we never set out to disrupt an industry. we're trying to solve a problem at scale with an original eye. i think if you have some innovative thinking and it's original, sometimes you can come up with elegant or radical solutions. if it's a large enough jump in quality or large decrease in price, at some point it upsets the apple cart. right? but the fact that it's disruptive is not the intent. you just have to do one thing better than most people. sometimes people want to be best at everything. that was a big problem for us at legal zoom out of the gate. we saw problems everywhere in the legal system. let's try and solve everything. over time the more we realized the more focus we are, thinking
innovatively within the boundaries, we could actually do more. what guides our innovation is listening very closely to the customer, to what they say and what they don't say. sometimes the solution has to anticipate what they're not saying because they didn't really think you could solve that one. that's the big issue they're going off. what we really focused on if we acquire a customer, will they talk to 10 or 20 other people about it. can we provide an experience that people will actually talk about? if so, if they talk to 10 or 20, 3,000 customers may come out of it. good people make sure it's the right thing to do things 3,000 times in a row. we're warming it with technology and building a special kind of customer experience. as a market leader with a lot experience, there are many problems you can see and you can't solve all of them. you have to keep your eye on the big problem to solve is, keep
your company focused on that. i think about entrepreneurs as leaders, not just as inventors but leading people. what you have to ask yourself is are you spending 80% of your time on your strengths? if you could have 100, 500 or 1,000 people where every is spending 80% of your time on doing what they do best, things really hum. one the big transitions i learned is to move purely into a coaching role and letting certain mistakes happen. you have to unlock the value of a time. if you interfere, you're like the spider in the middle of a web. you're the bottle neck for all decisions. business innovation is not a video game or a sport. one team can swing five times while another team in the same resources, same time frame can swing 25 times. and if you learn from each swing, you're going to get better and better. so i think a lot about innovation is not thinking about it as a mistake but learning experience.
i think a lot of innovation, you need some boundaries. the full blue sky, green field is sometimes overwhelming. i think the more that you narrow and understand who it is, the easier it is to innovate and think big. when we come back, advice on how to hold on to employees who are getting offers from bigger companies. and how to say no to your customers. our cosmetics line was a hit. the orders were rushing in. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us. we didn't need a loan. we needed short-term funding fast. building 18 homes in 4 ½ months? that was a leap. but i knew i could rely on american express to help me buy those building materials. amex helped me buy the inventory i needed. our amex helped us fill the orders. just like that.
another step on the journey. will you be ready when growth presents itself? realize your buying power at open.com what is the best way to keep the best people on your team to stick around when they get huge offers from facebook and microsoft that you cannot match. >> you have to make them an offer they can't refuse. go godfather on them. seriously speaking, you want to find out what are the things that motivate your employees? not every employee is motivated just by cash. some of them want flexibility. some of them want to be able to work from home. some of them watch the to have more responsibility or the opportunity for upward mobility. you have the ability to compete on a relationship by understanding what it is that your employees really want from the their business and it's not
always cash. so i think as an entrepreneur, you have a great opportunity to compete with the big boys just by understanding your employees and what it is that drives them. we now have the top two tips you need to know to help your small business grow. let's introduce this week's board of directors and get their advice. alfred edmond is senior vice president and executive editor at large for black enterprise and angela gia kim is the founder of an organic skin caroline and spa and co-founder of savor the success, a women's entrepreneurial network. alfred, let's start with you. >> entrepreneurs are natural people pleasers, motivated by money as well as making their customers happy. this tip is for those of you who are compulsive about it. learn to love to say no. it's not about how often you say no but when. if you overpromise, let's say you say yes to ten things but only can do five, you have a 50%
follow-through rate. not good. it's better to say no five times, say yes to the other five, follow through on those five and have 100% follow-through rate. a lot of praurz, entrepreneurs, they're afraid to turn away the business, they say yes too much. it's better to prioritize up front than failing on the back end. >> how do you say no and not lose the customer? >> know what's really in your lane. don't be tempted to say yes to things you probably could do but it's not associated with your brand. most the time your customers will understand. two, especially with your best customers, what they're counting on is not that you say yes to them all the time but whatever you say yes to you do and do it well. >> right. >> they will forget that you said no. but not forget if you say yes
and do it poorly. >> my tip is treat the press like people. people think the media is a big conglomerate. press has evolved so much. it's everywhere. it's social media, online publications are exploding. instagramers, facebook, and then of course traditional everything from local papers all the way to the radio stations all the way to tv, all the way to the "new york times." and the most important thing that entrepreneurs need to understand right away, it's not about us -- it's not about us, the entrepreneurs, it's about what the press needs to do to feed their audience valuable con ten. when i say treat the press like people, read what the editor is writing. if you're going to pitch the editor, understand what his or her beat is. and provide valuable content, not just my product, my product. it's more about why is the product relevant? what is the fresh new content? what's trending? and if you do that, the editor
is not going to hit delete, delete, delete and put you into spam but will start reading your valuable content and feature you, thus giving you the visibility. >> how do you get them to read it in the first place? if there's an editor who's getting a thousand cold pitches a day and he or she doesn't have time to read them all, how do you get them to read the first one so they know you have valuable con ten in the. >> the trick is to understand exactly what you're pitching. "oprah" magazine has a gratitude meter. in the subject line if you say four gratitude meter, then immediately that editor is going to understand that you know what you're pitching. it's specifically solving a pain point she has or he had has to create more content for that specific segment or article. >> great tips from both of you. thank you so much. so good to see you both. >> our pleasure. >> thank you. there are so many online tools that provide resources to your small business. which ones actually deliver? we asked our viewers to list the ones they depend on most.
>> one app i use all the time is insta layout. instagram is hot. i'm going it all myself. it's great to have filters. all in one app. it goes out there really quick. >> one of the websites i use on a regular basis is digital signage today.com. and they specialize in in-house and outdoor digital signage. it gives you the latest trends, various options available and helps me market to my customers the things that they can use digital signage for. >> healthy reporter.com is a website where they send queries to businesses and those queries are from reporters and free lancers throughout the country who are looking to do articles on various topics. you can become an expert and help reporters answer their
competent questions. >> i use zopim, z-o-p-i-m. it allows me to appear much larger than i am if i'm not available, a customer can open a chat window and from wherever i am i'll receive a message on my phone and can respond to my customer immediately. i don't need an entire room of people sitting at their computers ready to answer customers' questions. >> one app that i use is om mni focus and it helps me keep my personal life and business life organized, whether or not i need to order stuff, what tasks i need to manage for that day or in the future. >> one of my favorite apps is whatsapp. we can text for free. each morning and evening we're
able to talk freely an we can send sometimes even video chats, pictures. it's very convenient. i love that app. i use it every day. this week's your biz selfie comes from joshua taylor from marco island, florida, who owns salty scales. they use microfibers to protect customers from the harmful uv rays. smart idea. pick up your cell phone and take a picture of you and your business. no professional pictures, please, just take a selfie and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet it to us msnbc your biz and hash tag is your biz selfie. we'd love to hear from you. if you have questions or comments about today's show, e-mail us at "your business" at business"@msn business"@msnbc.com. go to our website, openforum.com/yourbusiness. we posted all of the segments from today's show plus a lot
more. don't forget to connect with us on digital and social media platfo platforms. next week, you've got questions, we've got answers. how many square feet do you think i need per person? >> it depends on the type of business you have. this is -- we have about 4,500 square feet and can fit up to 42, 43 people. that's what we call startup comfortable. >> we'll tell you everything you need to know when it's time to rent an office. until then, i'm jj ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. brought to you by american express open. visit openforum.com. for ideas to help you grow your business. ders were rushing in. ders were rushing in. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us. we didn't need a loan. we needed short-term funding fast. building 18 homes in 4 ½ months? that was a leap. but i knew i could rely on american express to help me buy those building materials.
amex helped me buy the inventory i needed. our amex helped us fill the orders. just like that. another step on the journey. will you be ready when growth presents itself? realize your buying power at open.com signed by president obama it is a stark freaking thing. did you see this today? look. quote. executive order , facilitation of a presidential transition. quote. by the authority vested in me as president by the constitution and the laws of the united states of america, it is hereby ordered as follows. section 1, policy. the peaceful transition of power has long been a hallmark of american democracy, the policy of the united states to undertake all reasonable efforts to assure presidential transitions are well coordinated and effective without regard to party affiliation. subsection a, to facilitate the transition including assisting