tv Your Business MSNBC October 22, 2017 4:30am-5:00am PDT
makeup mogul bobby brown talks about overcoming the challenges faced by woman. how this woman grew her business by utilizing the power of amazon. how small business owners got people in fargo by opening up their stores on sundays. let's grow fast and work smart. that's all coming up next on your business. hi, everyone.
welcome to your business. the show dedicated to helping your growing business. not that long ago getting a food product to market was all but impossible for a small company. the big brands controlled distribution and self-space. today things are different. madelyn hayden the founder of nondairy creamer shows how she used facebook, twitter and amazon to change the rules. it started when madelyn hearing aid chb seattle, washington, put together this simple mixture of almond milk and coconut along with a few scoops of this and a dash of that. she blended them together here in her own kitchen. she did this because she's lactose intolerant and she just didn't like any of the nondairy creamers available in the store. >> i wanted something rich and creamy, something that wasn't loaded up with sugar and created what i was hoping to buy. she worked out a recipe that was
exactly to her taste. she used it in her coffee and for baking. >> and then my friends started borrowing it and then i realized, it's not just me that's looking for something and that was my light bulb moment. that was only two years ago. madelyn's home brewed creamer is called nut pods. it's being produced commercially and being sold in grocery stores and online. >> it's doing remarkable well. we can make more than $5 million in revenue. >> how did she turn a homemade recipe into a multiple million dollars dollar business. >> we needed to know is this too small of a niche, is this too small of a business. >> by making clever use of a tool usually associated with fund-raising. kick starter. >> don't get me wrong. but what was more important for us, is that we needed to see if people were interested. >> she made a short video about
net pods. >> in fact, we call ned pods the naturally nutty nondairy creamer. >> she put it on kick starter and asked people to donate money but only if she thought it was something people would buy. >> what a specifically said is if you actually think that you would use net pods, then by all means i'd love to have your support. >> in just one she raised $32,000 from 500 people and that she says was her answer. >> it really told me that people wanted to have this. >> with their production in place along with information about future customers, thanks to kick starter, madelyn was ready to launch and the place she went was amazon. >> for us to be able to go on amazon, have pretty much nationwide distribution overnight, it really allowed me to have a direct way to consumerers so they could learn
about who we were, what we were trying to do and what our products were. >> oh, boy. amazon has been huge for our business. >> jeff hayden is chief financial officer for net pods and he's also madelyn's husband. after a long career in investment banking, he's well suited to monitoring the company's bottom line. >> a lot of our kick starter backers loved the product and went on amazon and wrote great reviews. that launched us on amazon. we did $10,000 in amazon sales our first month. >> the company's success on amazon has not gone unnotice. >> how did you figure out amazon in. >> that's probably the first question we are asked. >> we wanted to know too. what are the key elements for doing well on amazon. >> start with a great product. you just can't fake that. number two is make sure that you set up your listings correctly and i think three is get the word out however you can to get people to review and find you on amazon. >> sounds simple, but, of course
it isn't simple at all. >> it's not enough to just create a product, list it on amazon and wait for the sales to come in. >> he's a former amazon manager and he's now an independent consultant at 180 commerce helping brands launch sales on various internet sites including am done. >> they had a kick starter campaign that was fully backed so they created some following there. they created some offamazon presence, instagram, social media, so people knew about their product before they started selling. >> he says much of net pod's success comes from the social media awareness and following they built before they listed on amazon and that is usually one of the key indicators in terms of how a brand is going to be successful is how they get up there and what they bring with them when their products go live. >> once they went live, peter says the details page was key. >> when you're looking at the detail page here, you can see first of all their imagines, they blow up automatically.
they got a lifestyle imagine of a person holding a cup of coffee with a creamer in it. >> also important are the user reviews. consumer often start their research by reading them. >> they want to know is this a good product or a bad product, what are people saying about it, what are things they need to know. >> even if they don't buy on amazon, they go there because they want their peer review. >> 62% of all shopping searches start on amazon. >> amazon doesn't permit sellers to ask their customers to write reviews, that madelyn's interactions with customers on other social media has helped generate community enthusiasm, which then stimulates reviews. >> when brands do that, the customers are going to be more inclined to want to speak out about them, write a review, share their great experiences. >> so far, it's working. thanks to their rapid growth on amazon, madelyn's developing new products and has begun stocking
net pods in brick and mortar stores as well. if this rapid success sounds like beginninger's luck. >> i'm not a spring chicken. i'm in my '40s and it has allowed me to take my experiences as a consumer, to take my experiences as working in different industries and be able to, you know, perfect them and learn about them and apply them in my own company. >> if you are also thinking about growing your e-commerce sales on amazon but don't know where to start, our next guest has some will valuable advice for you. tracy wallace is editor in chief at big commerce a leading e-commerce platform. previously she covered e-commerce and online selling for mashable. >> thanks for having me. >> amazon can really make your business. i know a lot of people who do a lot of sales on amazon. let's just go through what you
need to do to make it work and the first thing you say is be unique. >> yes. unique means something different here when you're selling on your online store, clearly you want to have brand personality and brand yourself on a specific way. on amazon unique means sell a unique product. so that you can really battle copycat sellers so that you don't have to compete in a pricing race to the bottom, which is common on amazon when you have a bunch of sellers selling 15 of the exact same product. so be unique here means sell your own individual unique product. >> got it. then start slow and be strategic. why not start fast? if you already have a company, you already have a product you're selling it someplace else, why do you want to start slow on amazon? >> i have a really good example here called folding chairs and tables which sells as you might imagine and fall of 2016 right
before the holidays they wanted to launch on amazon. they took one skew, one product, which was a table and four chairs and put that on amazon and within a day had to take it right back down. they immediately soldout of inventory and for them it was a huge learning process. >> but the beginning of that story is something that any one would dream of. they had to take it down and learn but the idea that they sold so many first, how did they do that? >> fabulous question. so first and foremost, they looked at the back end of their data on their web store to understand what products were already selling really well there and then they did some research over on amazon. so the sellers that sell well and quickly on amazon are the ones who do a little bit of research before hand. it's a competitive market no matter which industry or vertical or selling on amazon and amazon has a bunch of tools that can really hem out with this. in the same way as google as an
algorithm, amazon has one as well. it's called the a. 9 algorithm. you can hop on amazon, type in a product that you want to sell and see who pops up first. this is going to give you a really great indication of how to title your product, what product description information needs to be included, what type of images will need to be there. if you type something in and there are only three or four competitors there as with the case with folding chairs and tables. that's a really good market to get in to. it means that competition is lower. >> is there an industry and consultants you can hire in the same way you can hire search engine optimization to help optimize your page. >> absolutely. you can go to google and type in amazon directory and you'll get tons of information on people who do this exact thing, people who will help you optimize your product listing so you show up one to four on amazon. >> perfect. so do not just willy-nilly put
your page up there. then finally, when you write your descriptions, it's different than when you write them on your own website or your own ecommerce site. how are they different, the amazon buyer? >> 43% of people begin their product search on amazon rather than on google. that means there are a bunch of browsers on amazon and these people are loyal to amazon. they're on their mobile devices as all of us are scrolling through, trying to find the right products. you need to use bullet points and bolding and additional information to really help those buyers understand exactly what you're selling, had a it's compatible with, what it isn't compatible with and before anybody even asks any questions, amazon because it's different than your website where somebody can ping you real quick and ask you a request about a product. that doesn't happen to amazon, you need to be sure you already have your frequently asked
questions already on there so people understand what they're getting and you can meet their expectations for your brand as well as their expectations for buying on amazon in general. >> those reviews are so important, right. >> so important and the a 9 algorithm values them ridiculously highly. the more reviews you get the higher you'll move up in the search results. >> this is great. super informative for the audience. thanks for coming on. >> it was a pleasure being here. >> small business saturday is rapidly approaching. this is the day where customers are urged to spend their holiday shopping dollars at local community businesses. it makes a difference when you shop local but in fargo, north dakota, business owners were making it hard for customers because of the long-standing tradition of closing on sundays. so they changed that. their motto now, fargo is always open for business.
>> reporter: the open or not to open. >> a lot of sundays we will do more sales per hour than we would on a regular weekday. >> it's a question a lot of small business owners in fargo north dakota are trying to answer as their community becomes more of a destination, should they be open for business on sundays. josie dance and carrie are two of the retailers downtown. they have been open on sunday since the store opened in 1991. >> sunday is a day for families and friends to get together and a lot of times that's the only day that people can go out and do their shopping. if we're not open on sundays, where else do they have to go other than the mall or the big boxed stores or our competition. >> reporter: just a few doors down, carrie's hours are a little different. she's decided to stick to her monday through saturday schedule. >> when you're in a business that resolves around weekends
sometimes realize how much the rest of the world revolves around a monday through friday schedule. we still wanted a little bit of that normalcy. >> the split between business owners like josie and carrie has helped bring the open sundays campaign to life. >> we just really tried to put together a strong campaign. it's simple. >> the downtown community partnership spear heads the efforts to encourage customers and owners alike to shop on sunday. >> we're supporting it with stickers and other promotional materials. we're getting involved as far as seeing what we can do for sunday events and just advocating them and working in partnership with them to see what we can do to build those sunday hours. >> the strategy isn't only targeting residents, it's aimed at tourists as well. so many visitors now consider fargo a regional destination. >> tom smith who owns the bicycle company, he has no regrets about opening on sundays. >> sundays are our busiest days
hour by hour. >> his wish is that his neighbor would take a look at the bigger picture when they decide to stay closed. >> it's important for all the downtown businesses to notice the impact of staying closed. >> everyone needs to run their business as they see fit, she's still surprised that sunday hours aren't more common. >> i get that there are roadblocks to being open on sundays especially for a small business but that's what business is and if you want to own a business, you have to make some of those sacrifices. working every day or finding people to work. you just have to trust that it will pay off. >> fargo has a unique challenge when it comes to hiring staff to fill those weekend shifts. the city has low unemployment, which means some positions actually sit empty. another challenge for sunday retailers is north dakota's blue law. it prevents businesses from opening until noon on sundays.
but it's actually less restrictive now than it's been in years past. >> for a time it was not legal for businesses to be open in north dakota on sundays. >> knowing that old habits die hard, the retailers who do open on sundays, say it's better than nothing. they also realize they have to commit to their hours for at least two years to get people used to the idea of shopping on sundays. >> about 80% of the businesses understand the need to be open sundays and we all agree that the more of us that are open, the better it will be. we do want to be open on sundays when we're ready to take that step. >> it's now time for the brain trust and we don't spend a lot of time on this show talking about issuesing that are particular to women but this week i feel like we should and i have two great guests to do this. bobbie brown author of the new book, beauty from the inside out and owner of the new company, just bobby.
and sally you're doing so much within this world of helping women invest with your company. thank you both for company. i wanted to do this segment because i was struck by forbes. this is nothing against forbes. but i was struck that they have 100 greatest business minds, less than 10% of them or women and then they have the 25 next unicorns, billion dollars companies, two women on this list. so something is missing. i know a lot of successful women right now but why are they so few in these lists. what can we do to make sure next time it's 100 business minds there's 50 women. let's start with you because you're completely concentrated on this. >> absolutely. i'm concentrated on getting more money through-to-women, whether that's through investing. here's the problem. women entrepreneurs are not getting as much as money as men
are. do you know what percent of intercapital dollars women got last year, 2.5%. now you might say venture capital, the money will go where the returns are. first round capital did a study and in all the companies they've invested in, the ones that had women in the leadership team performed 3i68% better. so what we see women are not hitting as many of the huge home runs but they're not wiping out either. they're still not getting the money. >> so what can we do? >> what we are doing? things are changing. i think just talking about what the issues are is number one. i know personally a lot of women that are now starting these funds to help other women so i do think that we are on a positive, you know, track and i think it's our job to empower women to ask for what you want and to make sure you get there. as an entrepreneur and someone that worked for years in corporate, i didn't really see
that, you know, me being a woman had anything to do with it. i think being a creative person in a corporate world was a harder thing than being a woman. >> i hear this from a lot of successful women, i didn't think of it as myself as a woman, i just did my job and did it well and i was confident. is that enough? >> if you've got a great boss. the challenges that you talk to so many successful women, they've had terrific mentors and sponsors, great bosses and you've got so many talented women who will get stuck working for todd and todd probably means well but todd tends to hire people like himself and tends to be more comfortable people like himself and part of the challenges venture capital, wall street, we're both -- we let the numbers speak for us. the two least diverse industries out there. marry tock rasy is broken and diversity really tends to drive better business results.
help women or people of color is progressive. >> do you think that is still the case? >> we need to change. that we need to talk about it. by talking about it, we neutralize it and we have to help each other. the guys have been doing it forever. again, networking, mentoring, sponsoring. and women, i tell you, when i was working in wall street, i sort of knew there is one seat at the table for a woman and there weren't going to be any more. and we have to really work to blast through. i got to tell you, what we've been doing for the past five, ten years of trying to do this individually, right, tell me what to do and i'll go ask for that raise and i'll, you know, take that seat at the table. it hasn't worked. and the progress of women in corporate america has stalled out. so i love bobby's idea. we have to start our own things. we have to find people to funneled us, rigfund us and work together within business to make strides together. >> how are you -- force.
>> the beauty and fashion industry is definitely more women heavy. i can't compare your industry to my industry. the magazine, you know, definitely women heavy. women, you know, editor in chief of all the magazines. so women presidents and cosmetic companies. so i have been lucky. i'm in an industry that was always very women friendly. >> diverse companies outperform smarter companies, more capable companies. higher returns on equity, lower risk, greater innovation, diversity in leadership teams drive lots of great things. the challenge is most folks are just more comfortable working with people like themselves. we need to change that. >> not only more comfortable, but when you go to hire people, you use your networks, right? it's just simply easier. you're busy doing 1,000 other thin things, you want to hire the first great person you meet. >> as a manager, it's easier to manage someone like yourself as opposed to someone from a different country or background or gender. you don't have to work as hard. >> i think in a positive way that women now are supporting
each other more than they ever did before. >> i agree. >> i think the competition has gone out and what can i do? what can i help? i do see that -- a big change. >> i agree with that. >> i'm going to end it on. that just ask people what can i do to help? >> we have to help the men. they're not doing so well. >> you're really an inspiration to so many people including myself. i'm happy to have got then conversation particularly with you two. >> thank you. >> thanks. when we come back, we tackle the question, if you keep your day job while growing your business, that will scare off investors? and david cong of rebranding. so that's the idea. what do you think? hate to play devil's advocate but... i kind of feel like it's a game changer. i wouldn't go that far.
are you there? he's probably on mute. yeah... gary won't like it. why? because he's gary. (phone ringing) what? keep going! yeah... (laughs) (voice on phone) it's not millennial enough. there are a lot of ways to say no. thank you so much. thank you! so we're doing it. yes! "we got a yes!" start saying yes to your company's best ideas. let us help with money and know-how, so you can get business done. american express open. best western is one of the biggest brands in the hotel industry. but at some point they had so many locations around the world and the quality of some of them was not quite up to snuff. they needed a brand face lift. so 2004 the company brought in industry expert david kong as the president and ceo. the company is now thriving. we sat down with him at a
premier hotel near the grand canyon to get his tips for business success. >> communication is always key. if you don't communicate properly, people don't know what you want to achieve. you can't address the concerns. you can't answer the questions. it's a nonstarter. you can present the same information to perfectly intelligent people. they will likely come to different conclusions. so just because someone feels differently doesn't mean that their wrong. once you can explain that, i think you're helping your travelers make better selections and they can set expectations. then we have a better chance of meeting or exceeding that expectation. the advances in technology and communications and travel, everything is becoming -- the whole world is becoming smaller. hotel industry has been notorious slow adapter of technology. and for good reasons. because industry is very
fragmented. a hotel is really home away for our guests, right? you want the guests to feel like it's as comfortable as home or even more so. you want them to have different experiences like oh, i haven't thought about doing this in my home. but now i can. whether it's through design or technology or attributes. i think virtual reality, augmented reality, voice command, artificial intelligence in all areas that we have to be competitive with and ask ourselves how can we create a unique and experience experience with our guest utilizing the latest technologies? there is always challenges and hardship. there is always the unexpected. and you think for someone like me that's been a ceo for, you know, 14 years now, i should know, i should be right in my approach. but i'm always learning. i'm constantly learning. the world is moving so fast nowadays. we have a lot of companies
buying other companies, creating that scale and launching a lot of different initiatives. they have veryti tough competitions. we have air b & b changing the game. with that backdrop, we have to experiment with different things. we're not going to always get it right. but to me, the most important achievements are as a result of mistakes. you got to try things and if they don't work, you learn from it and then do it again. the speed of correcting a mistake is really crucial. it's not easy because when you talk big organization there are a lot of stake holders. it's not only the koceo or staf members realizing we made a mistake, it's convincing everyone else we made a mistachlt but it's not a one time thing. you got to continuously work at it and ask yourself what is the next level of negotiation? because what do you today can be easily copied. okay? so you have to constantly think
of new ways to improve. i lot of saying from jeff bezos, he said it's always day one. i love that saying. that is oinnovative culture tha we aspire to achieve. when it is always day one, there is always that great excitement, can the do attitude. and everything is as from scratch. there is nothing to inhibit you to try something. so i'd love that. >> this week's your biz selfie comes from michael bloch who owns popcorn charlie's. the product comes in a variety of flavors and sells into retail outlets for all sorts of occasions like as you see here halloween. now why don't you pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of your and your business. no professional pictures. we want selfies. and send it to us.
please don't forget to use the #yourbizselfie. thank you so much for joining us. we love hearing from you. if you want to get in touch, please do. >> we posted all the segments from today's show plus a whole lot more for you and, of course, we're on social and digital as well. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, remember we make your business our business.