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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  January 29, 2017 4:30am-5:01am PST

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t speeds up to 250 mbps. and add phone and tv for only $34.90 more a month. call today. comcast business. built for business. good morning, coming up, the new owner of a legendary new york neon business puts his own colorful imprint on the company. secrets from casper that may help you lose sleep. >> information and advice to help you get ahead of your competition coming up next on "your business."
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hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, welcome to "your business." along with learning business lessons, i got a lesson knee -- neon. it was an industry and art form once on the bring of disappearing, but just as the
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lights were dimming but along came an artist and businessman that opened his business. he is the one that made neon popular again. the new owner had to figure out how to put back the pieces. while his name may not be in lights, this is the man who saved neon. it started in new york city in the early 1970s. he was obsessed with lights and the dieing art of neon that was flickering out. >> it was being replaced by plastic. it was the style of the times, and he wanted people to see the beauty of neon and he said it is like drawing with light which is exactly what it is.
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>> he was a visionary artist. he created work for the doors, timothy leary, and studio 54. he founded "let there be neon" in 1972. an art gallery with intoxicating array of rainbow colored neon lights. the concept was a game changer taking neon from has been to cool again. >> he started to hire and bring different people from different walks of life together to create new mediums, and so artists, carpenters, philosophers, everybody came together and they started designing neon design. >> one of those young artists was jeffrey was who hired on the spot by rudy, and quickly
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learned the ropes. he watched the company grow. when it came to art, rudy was on firm ground. when it came to running the business, he was hopeless. >> he was a horrible business person. spent way more money than he ever had. he was a brilliant brilliant visionary. >> it made for some very poor business decisions, and just like the on the spot hiring, he experienced rudy's wrath a few years later with an on the spot firing. >> i came to work in 1977, i left for a couple years, i have was fired. >> but they stayed in touch. in 1990, an opportunity came up that he never expected before. >> and so all of the stars aligned. we started talking about it, and
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i don't know what crazy idea got in my head, but i said sure. i was not going to come in at anything less than a partner. >> he was being really difficult, and i said i just made a mistake, i'm going to go back to what i had. and he said no, no -- and i said you have to make it different, it's been two days and i'm done. and he said okay, okay. so it wasn't long after that that he was done. >> jeff bought rudy out and took over the business. he was left with a huge mess. >> jobs were being done two and three times instead of just once the right way if was a bad spiral and i lost the vision. >> how do you get through those
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couple years when you were leading the helm and you have no suggestion? >> part of it is vision, and the downward spiral, it's impossible to get out, so you either close the doors or you fight fight fight. >> the turning point came with a simple realization. he didn't have to run things the way rudy had. >> it's all chemistry. do i want to continue with the craft, or take the next step and increase the talent and increase the capability and do things the right way? the easy way is just to continue with the craft. >> his decision was to fine tune
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so they were focused on efficien efficiency. >> despite things coming into focus, things starting to align in the business, and i felt like we needed to do that. we needed to hit that part of the road and hit it hard and bounce back and be able to see things more clearly. >> now jeff arrives at his shop at 5:30 in the morning, turns on the warm glow, and gets down to the business of the day. whether or not the shop is working on a commercial peace, a movie problem or a restoration, the company that was in danger of fading away is doing brilliantly. >> i think there is a tremendous
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room for growth for neon. i want it to live on. it wasn't my creation, it was rudy's creation. it has always been my philosophy and vision to keep his vision going. >> another colorful company is bucking the digital age. as nbc's craig melvin tells us, they are foregoing technology and going old school. they reach the benefits for the clients and themselves. >> born from the streets,tizing is sky high in cities like new york, los angeles, and atlanta. where a rush to sign painters, handcrafting campaigns from
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coors to coca-cola. >> is it art ortizing? >> it walks the line of being art and beingizing. it brings them both together. >>. >> one of 23 wall dogs. the largest outdoor paintstizing companies. >> in a dig damage age, these modern day michelangelos get up to 4,000 requests per year. >> on average our paintings take about four days to complete. if you add in the preproduction time, it probably is worth another 40 hours of work. right now we are clocking 420 paintings a year. >> when technology came in, hand
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painting was replaced, a lot was last. when you're painting, people get curious, but the value goes on forever. >> but it is not cheap. we're sort of like the chotic car category. when you come and you want something that is a little nicer than the every day car. you want hand made stitching and nice leather, and a big motor that goes fast. >> they estimate that more than a million people per month, the accumulation of all of their walls, on social media. and while the costs can be slightly higher than traditional advertising, they say the handpainted signage is worth the price tag. >> you could have a hard time convincing me of that, it will
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stick with you long term when you see the handpainted signs, it comes across as more thoughtful. >> is this art? >> in a context, street art. when we go out, we put our blood, sweat, and tears in everything that we do. cold, hot, windy, rainy, we're out there with the goal of making another beautiful painting. >> you can barely walk a foot here in new york city without seeing an ad for the mattress company casper. they are disrupting the industry with their one-size fits all products. we went to find out just how casper managed to get everyone from ashton kutcher to jeremy
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lin sharing photos of their casper mattress on social media, and why they say their work is never done. >> the odd that you would walk into a store in your street clothes, lay on a mattress, while a commission sales person is there trying to convince you to spend more than you have to doesn't seem even thet kal. driving you, feeling like you need to be in a store, and sell it direct with no gimmicks, and it is because we're always taking the data from our customers and making sure the products are getting better and better. that's why they swear by their products, and it's that viral nature that will continue to be
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the secret sauce of casper. >> ashton kutcher was an early investor. we saw a huge spike in sales, and we found out that he posted a picture of a casper box being delivered, and it was amazing for business. celebrities that use the products, that invested, it all happened or beganically. it is full attention and immediate responses. it is something our competitors got away from. they didn't realize you could have a long-term relationship with customers and if you cream them right, they will tell friends and family about us and they will continue to come back to us. >>. >> like a lot of other companies
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in our category, we don't think about developing a product, lunching it, and then we're done. we needed a great product to launch with and then we knew we could make it better. we were always ready to work on the next vsion. we wanted to traverse on and offline. we like pop ups, it allows us to learn and test concepts. and we will continue to do them in order. just like we evolved our website that is constantly learning and changing. >> we have to stay focused on our mission and on our business we want to build, and that means not taking on too many things. we know that we can't work on
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one thing. we're very selective on the products that we work on, we spend a lot of time developing them. you have to take risks, be bold, we have to push ourselves to take bets, think big. >> when you think about how to get a better night of sleep, you think of casper. >> your job can't end when your customer makes a purchase. you need to continue marketing with clients and communicate with them effectively. five ways you can improve your online interrelationships. >> there are always improvements in customer relations, management, technology, and best practices. follow crm influencers on social media so you're always in the
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know. two, use emojis on social media. they make you seem more approachable. three, even if your business is primarily brick and mortar, have an online presence. it helps you build brand loyalty. >> define and create your voice so everyone in the company understands what it is. no matter who on your team is doing the responding, people should feel like they're spaeblging with your company, not each separate individual. >> five, work on your seo. you can't have a relationship with someone that doesn't know that you exist. >> we now have the topics that you need to know to help your small business grow. let's go to our panel.
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jean marks is ahead of the marks group. great to have you here. >> gene, we love having you on the show, cindy, i'm glad this finally worked out. i have been trying to get you on the show for a year now, you really know business, your last business turned out to be a billion dollar company, the female viagra. now you're working with small companies -- >> that's right. >> so we're just thrilled to get to hear what you think about growing a business. let's start with your tips. >> my top tip, you need to invest in yourself before you ask others to invest in you. in the post shark tank world, we think having a good idea is enough. i need to see that you're investing in yourself and taking yourself seriously. the incorporated. you can just go on legal zoom. even better, work with a local law firm. look professional. have a website, business cards, you can do it as easy as square
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space and move online. the final peace, have a plan worked out for how you network or find your mentor. i need to know you can go to a place where you get constant advice. >> referee: tf is a great test case. i look at how did women find their way to me and what are their goals out of it. i see a level of commitment in their ultimate commitment to their business success. >> gene, you're the person i turn to when i have a question about a device. >> first, i did not build a billion dollar business, but i bought this sports jacket, pretty nice, huh? new. >> it is not over yet, gene. >> we're looking up.
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all right, we do a lot of technology consulting. anyone with five or more employees, i am seeing a lot of people investing in hr platforms. my as vice to anyone with more than five employees, look at resource software. it is a $14 billion market and it is expected to grow at double digit rates. paychecks. gusto, bamboo, those are just a few really great hr platforms out there. and i tell you something, they save a lot of time. your employees can do all of the data entry themselves, but they help with onboarding, offboarding, managing vacation time, sick pay, reminding you when you do performance evaluations. and it is becoming an essential
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type of platform. >> it is so true. . when you do the math of when you do the math of how much time you're spending on silly things like recording people's vacation time that they could be putting in themselves, for most companies it really works out. >> right. >> all right. >> getting reminders of even performance reviews is an enormous thing. i thought people would, because we're going to the cloud, a lot of my clients would be resisting putting their personnel or employee information on the cloud with these things. that hasn't been the case. people have really been migrating to them. >> great. thank you both very much. great tips. when we come back, we know this is top of mind for many of you. how do you manage your health care costs? and how to get young entrepreneurs who think they're visionaries to come down to earth. will your business be ready when growth presents itself?
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♪ we deal with a lot of young entrepreneurs, and one of our questions is how to continue to keep them focused because they all believe that they're visionaries. >> that's a great question. it's really important to invite those millennials to the table. they bring groundbreaking innovation, and that's important for any company to drive forward, but it's also important to balance that out with execution. at circular board, we try to bring both of those pieces to the table with every problem that we're tackling as we try to serve women entrepreneurs around the world. that balance is really what ultimately helps implement those big visions. it's time now to answer one of your business questions. today's question is about health care costs. >> how do we help manage our
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expenses, specifically in the area of health care? >> okay, gene, i'm going to start with you because i know you've written a tremendous amount on this. >> yeah. i mean, health care costs is such a big concern to many small companies, so i've got three bits of advice. and cindy, i hope i'm not taking away anything you're going to say. one bit of advice is this. i see a lot of clients looking into something called level-funded plans. they are basically a plan that combines group insurance with sel self-insurance. go to the self insurance institute of america's website. you can find more about level-funded plans. number two, a lot of companies are starting up health savings accounts. if you combine them with your high-deductible plans, you can put money away pretax for your employees. they can put money away as well. they've been immensely popular over the past three years. and finally, back in december of 2016, congress passed a bill that now allows for health care reimbursement accounts. they're now legal. you don't get penalized if you set those up. so if you decide not to cover
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health insurance but your people go out to get insurance on their own, you can set up hras, health care reimbursement accounts so it will reimburse them on a pretax basis. so look into those three options. that should help you control your costs. >> i should ask, as i'm listening to these three options, and as someone who has figured out health care for a company, it is complicated, and i'm sure people are listening to you, gene, saying that is all complicated. how do i figure out what's right? >> it is. >> where do you go? >> talk to other small businesses in your community and find who they use for a health insurance broker. this is a pain point for small businesses. if you look at the dollar amounts, you spend about $6,000 for an employee but $18,000 if you are considering covering a family. i think that dialogue has to be real with your employees in terms of what you can do. i completely agree with gene that a flexible savings account is a great way to get started. at least start putting away some money that they can use toward their health care. but at a minimum, have a conversation with a local broker, figure out two different
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plan options potentially for your employee, figure out how much you'll cover. maybe you start with employees. maybe you evolve over time. but again, a flexible savings account i think is at a minimum sort of a standard, if you will, to attract good talent. >> and how do you think about the rising costs? who knows what the cost of health care's going to be going forward. how do you deal with those fluctuations? when you start giving something to employees, right, and it is expensive. >> sure. >> and then you don't know what that cost is going to be next year. how do you deal with that? >> well, you bet on it going up. i mean, i think as you start to think of what can i afford, and over time it's going to go up. if you look at the exchange, i think that i saw data that it's up 25% in 2017 already. so people's premiums, even if they're going up, their payment on their own, they're going up substantially. again, if you think it's better to set aside a certain dollar amount, that's manageable cost, you understand it, a flexible savings account is a way to manage that. >> great. thanks to both of you. >> if i could add on.
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cindy's advice is absolutely great, and yeah, it is about a 25% increase for personal insurance. and on 2017, very uncertain after 2017. my advice also is, you know, you should invest a little bit in educating your employees. like you said, jj, it's very complicated. costs are definitely going to continue to go up. the more that you can teach your employees about the type of choices that they have, the better choices that they'll make for both themselves, and i'm sure for your company. so, you know, bring in a benefits consultant, do some training, do a few sum fares, get them as smart as possible about what's going on in the world of health care and i think it will benefit you and them both together. >> i think that's a great idea. i spoke with someone the other day who pays 100% of their employees' health care, which is incredibly generous and fantastic. but what happens there, when that expense goes up, the employees don't see it and so they don't realize that in essence their salary just went up significantly. >> no question. >> thanks both of you so much.
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>> thanks. this week's #yourbizselfie comes from jinelle miley who owns global strategies llc in laurel, maryland, a highly respected, certified women and minority-owned business. they offer accounting, budgeting and financial services to small, medium and large companies. and it looks like janelle could have a career doing vanna white-style presenting as well. we love the picture, janelle. thank you for sending it in. for all of you out there, pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business and send it to us at so we can feeture it here on the show. you can also tweet it t to @msnbcyourbiz. include your name, the name of your business, your location, and use #yourbizselfie. if you're savvy, a couple of apps and online tools can help you knock off a whole slew of items on your to-do list. that's why we turned to our viewers to find out which ones they've bookmarked and downloaded. >> so, an app i use on a daily basis in my business is todo.
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it's basically a to-do list app broken down into multiple different categories and i can prioritize things. it allows me to organize my life and business and keep everything inside one app. you can also share it with the team so we're all able to understand what everybody's focused on. with a split, you know, quick screen shot of being able to see what everybody's doing. >> if an instant messaging service had a child with a message board, slack is what you would get. we use that to communicate with our teams and our dealerships nationwide and we're able to have subcategories for each dealership where we could communicate no matter where we are in the country or the world traveling. we can post information on there, pin some documents if there's something that's important for them to go back to, and it's really made to be a one-stop shop for communication where we don't have to be constantly trying to find that e-mail, trying to find that voice mail. >> so, one of the apps i use regularly is a daily newsletter called the skim. and it really provides a snapshot of information from a pop culture standpoint. so it allows me to have conversations with clients. let's say if i missed the game
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last night, i wasn't sure what the score was on monday night football or what's trending from new york fashion week, i can get that information in one quick snapshot with the skim. >> thank you so much for joining us today. we love hearing from you, so please e-mail us at with any questions or any comments you have. also, head on over to our website. it's we've put all of the segments from today up there, plus a whole lot more. and don't forget to connect with us on all of our social and digital media platforms as well. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, i'm jj ramberg. and remember, we make "your business" our business. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order
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or expand your office and take on whatever comes next. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at is the government prepared to implement the immigration executive order that you issued yesterday? >> totally. >> and is it a muslim ban? >> it's not a muslim ban, but we are totally prepared to support it. it's worked out very nicely. you see it at the airports. you see it all over. it's working out very nicely, and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for


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