tv Your Business MSNBC October 28, 2017 4:30am-5:00am PDT
good morning. coming up on msnbc's "your business," makeup mogul bobby brown talks about the challenges of business owners. and how small business owners in fargo, north dakota, got people to shop local by finally opening up their stores on sundays. let's grow fast and work heart is. that's all coming up next on "your business." hi, everyone. i'm jj ramberg, and 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 control distribution and self-space. today things are different. madeline hayden, the founder of nondairy creamer net pod, shows us how she uses sites like twitter, facebook, and amazon to change the rules. it started when madeline hayden of 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 didn't like any of the nondairy creamers available in the stores. >> i wanted something rich and creamy, something that wasn't loaded up with sugar and basically 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 also for baking. >> then my friends started
borrowing it. then i realized, you know, it's not just me that's looking for something. and that was my lightbulb moment. >> that was only two years ago. today madeline's home-brewed creamer is called nut pods. it's being produced commercially and sold in grocery stores and online. and looking at her annual sales numbers, it's doing remarkably well. >> i can say we're making considerably more than $5 million in revenue. >> how did she turn a homemade recipe into a multimillion-dollar business? for madeline, the answer starts with a question. we needed to know, is this too small of a niche? is this a viable business? >> to find out, madeline surveyed the market by making clever use of tool usually associated with fundraising, kick starter. >> don't get me wrong. we absolutely needed the funds. what was more important for us is that we needed to see if people were interested. >> she made a short video about nut pods. >> in fact, we call nut pods the
naturally nutty nondairy creamer. >> put it on kick starter and asked people to invest their money only if they thought it was something they would buy. >> the $30,000 will go towards converting my kitchen formula into a commercial formulation. >> what i specifically said is if you actually think that you would use nut pods, then by all means, i'd love to have your support. >> in just one month, 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, madeline was ready for 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 consumers 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 nut pods and he's also madeline'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, went on amazon and wrote great reviews. that sort of launched us a little bit on amazon. so we did $10,000 in amazon sales our first month. >> the company's success on amazon has not gone unnoticed. >> how did you figure out amazon? 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. 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 wrat fait for the s to come in. >> peter kerns is a former amazon manager and is now an independent consultant, helping brands launch sales on various internet site, including amazon. >> they had a kick starter campaign that was fully backed, so they created some following there. they created some off-amazon presence, instagram, social media. so people knew about their product before they started selling. >> he says much of nut 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, you know, first of all, their images, they blow up automatically. they have a lifestyle image of a person holding a cup of coffee with the creamer in it. it looks like me in the morning.
>> also important are the user reviews. peter says consumers often start their research by reading them. >> they're looking at the reviews. they want to know, you know, is this a good product, is it a bad product, what are people saying about it, what are the things that i 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. >> while amazon doesn't permit sellers to ask their customers to write reviews, peter says that madeline'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 that, write a review, share their great experiences. >> so far, it's working. thanks to their rapid growth on amazon, madeline is developing new products and has become stocking nut pods in local brick and mortar grocery stores as well. >> part of our success is being able to scale quickly. >> if this rapid success sounds
like beginner's luck, madeline is quick with a correction. >> i'm not a spring chicken. i'm in my 40s. it has allowed me to take my experiences as a consumer, 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 doern't kno where to start or are already doing it but not doing it well, our next guest has valuable advice for you. tracy wallace is editor in chief at big commerce, a leading e-commerce platform for fast-growing businesses. previously she covered online selling for mashable and elle.com. good to see you. >> good to be here. thanks for having me. >> amazon can really make your business. i know a lot of people who do a lot of sales on amazon. so let's just go through what you need to do to make it work. and the first thing you say is be unique.
>> yes, so unique means something different here. when you're selling on your online store, clearly you want to have brand personality and brand yourself in a specific way. on amazon being unique means sell a unique product, a proprietary product, a product that ideally you manufacture so you can really battle copy cat sellers so 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, you know, 15 of the exact same product. so be unique here means sell your own individual, unique product. >> got it. okay. then start slow and be strategic. why not start fast? if you already have a company, you already have a product you're selling some place else, why do you want to start slow on amazon? >> have a really good example here from a company that i've worked with called folding chairs and tables, which sells, as you might imagine, folding chairs and tables. in fall of 2016, right before the holidays, they wanted to launch on amazon. they took one skew they had, one
product, which was a table and four chairs and put that on amazon. within a day they had to take it right back down. they immediately sold out of inventory. for them, it was a huge learning process. >> but the beginning of that story is something that anyone would dream of, right? of course, they had to take it down and learn, but the idea they sold so many first, how did they do that? >> how did they do that? fabulous question. so first and foremost, they actually looked at the back end of their data on their web store to understand what products were already selling really, really well there. then they did some research over on amazon. so the sellers that sell well and kwquickly on amazon are the ones who do a little bit of research beforehand. it's a competitive market no matter which industry or vertical you're selling on amazon. amazon has a bunch of tools that can really help out with this. so in the same way as google has an algorithm, amazon has an algorithm as well.
you can hop on amazon, type in a product 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 kind of images are going to need to be there. and if you type something in and there are only three or four competitors there, as was the case with folding tables and chairs, that's a really good market to get into. >> so is there an industry incoi consultant you can hire to help optimize your page for amazon? >> oh, my gosh, absolutely. there are tons of people. you can go to google and type in amazon directory. you're going to 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. >> so do not just willy nilly put your page up there. think of it like your website. finally, when you write your
descriptions, it's different than when you write them on your own website or your own e-commerce site. you have to think about the amazon buyer. how are they different? >> yeah, so 43% of people begin their product search on amazon rather thank rather than on google. that means there are a bunch of browsers on amazon. these people are super 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, what it's compatible with, what it isn't compatible with. before anybody even asks any questions, amazon because it's different than your website, that doesn't happen on amazon. so you need to be sure that you already have your frequently asked questions answered on there so that people understand exactly what they're getting, and you can ultimately meet their expectations for your brand as well as their
expectations for buying on amazon in general. >> and finally, those reviews are so important, right? >> oh, gosh, so important. the a-9 algorithm values them ridiculously highly. the more reviews you get, the higher you're going to move up in those search results. >> tracy, this was great. super informative for the audience. so i really appreciate you coming on. >> awesome. thanks so much. 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 a long-standing tradition of closing on sundays. so they changed that. their motto knnow, fargo is alws open for business. >> to 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? josi dance and kerry are two of the retailers downtown. josi and the team have been open on sundays since the store opened in 1991. >> sunday is a day for families and friends to get together. 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 box stores or our competition? >> just a few doors down at handmade art and gifts gallery c. lizzy's, carrey's hours are a little different. >> when you're in a business that revolves around weekends sometimes, you realize how much the rest of the world revolves around a monday through friday
schedule with social life on saturday, sunday. we still wanted a little bit of that normalcy. >> the split between business owners like josi and carrey 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 spearheads the effort to encourage owners and customers alike to shop on sundays. >> we're supporting it with stickers and other promotional materials as far as on social media. we're getting involved as far as seeing what we can do for sunday events and just kind of 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 great northern bicycle company, says he has no regrets about opening on sundays. >> sundays are oftentimes 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 of the businesses, like in the downtown community, to consider what the exact impact of choosing to be open or not to be open has on the rest of the retail community. >> while josi agrees that everyone needs to run their business as they see fit, she's still surprised sunday hours aren't more common. >> i get there are roadblocks to being open on sundays, especially for a small business. but that's sort of 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'll 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 actually
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. we don't spend a lot of time on the show talking about issues that are particular to women, but this week i feel like we should. i have two great guests to do this. bobby brown, author of the new book "bu ifeauty from the insid out." and sal ly, you're doing so muc within this world of helping
women invest with your company. thank you both for coming. >> thank youing for having me. >> i wanted to do this segment because i was struck by "forbes." this is nothing against "forbes." but i was struck that they have a hundred greatest business minds, less than 10% of them are women, right. and then they have the 25 next unicorns, billion-dollar companies. two women on this list. both are co-founders. so something is missing. i know a lot of successful women right now. but why are there so few in these lists? what can we do to make sure that the next time it's 100 business minds and there are 50 women? let's start with you. you are completely concentrated on this. >> absolutely. i'm completely concentrated on getting more money to women, whether that's through investing through the elevate network, which helps women network, number one unwritten rule of success in business. here's the problem, women entrepreneurs are not getting as much money as men are. do you know what percent of intracapital dollars women got last year?
2.5%. so 2.5%, 3%. you might say, well, venture capital, it's a meritocratic industry. in all the companies they've invested n the ones that had women in the leadership team performed 63% better. so what we see is women are not hitting as many of the huge home runs, but they're not wiping out either. and their businesses are performing better and they're still not getting the money. somplgts what c somplg >> so what can we do? >> and what are we doing? i do think things are changing. just talking about the issues are number one. i know a lot of women starting these funds to help other women. i do think we're 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 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 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. you know, the challenges that you talk to so many successful women, they've had terrific mentors and sponsors, great bosses who helped them along the way. 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, tends to be more comfortable with people like himself, tends to promote people like himself. and part of the challenge is venture capital, wall street, we're both meritocracies. so moth >> but we're all entrepreneurs, and we've all left that world to
start our own. i think more and more women are doing that. they're starting their own. i think that's really exciting. >> and i feel like a lot of it comes down to networks, right, and this is your point. as we think about what we can do to change these numbers, and i talk about this numbers, and i k a lot about this on the show. i go to a lot of women's dinners. and i found at the end oftentimes people go around the table and say what do you need. and it's a place where people feel because they have been asked really comfortable saying i need an introduction to this person. i need money. i need blah, blah, blah. and everyone there is willing to help. >> and i will call maura forbes. >> she has done so much for women. the women's conference. she's great. >> so here's the challenge. historically the research tells us that women or people of color who help women or people of color in the traditional workplace have the reputations
deemed for it. the gentleman are progressive and forward looking. >> you still think that's the case? >> we need to change that. we need to talk about it. by talking about it we neutralize it. guys have been doing it forever, networking, mentoring, sponsoring. i'll tell you when i was working on wall street i knew there was 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 it. what we have been doing the last five, ten years of doing this individually, tell me what to do and i'll go ask for the raise and i will take that seat at the table. it hasn't worked. and the progress of women in corporate america has stalled out. i love bobbi's idea. we have to find start our own things, find people to fundus and work together in business to make strides together. >> the beauty and fashion industry is more women heavy. there's no question.
i can't compare your industry to my industry. the magazine, definitely women heavy. editor-in-chief of all the magazines. women presidents is in kos he mettic companies. i'm lucky. i'm in an industry that was always very women friendly. >> diverse companies outperform smarter companies, higher returns on equity, lower risk, greater innovation, diversity in leadership teams drives lots of great things. the challenge is most folks are more comfortable working with people like themselves. we need to change that. >> not only more comfortable but when you two to hire people you use your networks. it's easier. you're busy doing a thousand other things you want to hire the first great person you meet. >> as a manager it is easier to manager people like yourself. you don't have to work as hard. it's just easier. >> i think in a positive way women are supporting each other than they ever did before.
>> i agree 100%. >> i do see a big change. >> i will end it on all of us women and men frankly just ask is how do we help eacheer? >> we have to help the men because they're not doing so well. >> i'm happy to have gotten this conversation particularly with you two. >> thank you, jj. >> when we come back, we tackle the question if you keep your day job while growing your business, will that scare off investors. >> and the ceo of best berne on rebranding and reaching out to millennials. 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 ceo. under his leadership, the were company is thriving. this is a hotel at the grand canyon to get his tips for
business success. >> communication is always key. if you don't communicate properly, nobody knows why you want to do something, what you want to achieve. you can't answer their questions. i believe you can present the same information to perfectly intelligent people. they will likely come to different conclusions. is so just because someone feels differently doesn't mean they're wrong. once you explain that, i think you are helping make better selections. then we have a pwerpt chance of exceeding expectations. the whole world is becoming smaller. the industry is very fragmented. a hotel is really home away for our guests, right? you want the government to feel
like it's as comfortable as at home or even more so. you want them to have different experiences. like, oh, i hadn't thought about doing this but now i can. whether it is through design or technology or attributes. i think virtual reality, a.i., voice command, artificial intelligence are areas we have to ask ourselves, how can we create a unique and special experience for our guests utilizing the latest technologies. there's always challenges. you think for someone like me that's been a ceo for 14 years now i should know, i should be right in my he approach. but i'm always learning. i'm constantly moving. 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.
we have very tough competition. we have disruptors like airbnb changing the rules of the game. so 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 have to try things. if they don't work, you learn from it and then you do it again. correcting a mistake is really crucial. it's not easy. there are a lot of stakeholders in a big corporation. it is not only ceo of one of the key staff members recognizing we made a mistake. it is is convincing everyone else that we have made a mistake. but it is not a one-time thing. you have to continuously work at it and ask yourself what's the next level. what you do today can be easily copied. so you have to constantly think of new ways to improve. i love the saying from jeff
bezos, it's always day one. i love that saying. that is innovative culture that we aspire to achieve. because when it's always day one, there is always that great excitement, the can-do attitude and everything is from scratch. there is nothing to inhibit you to try something. so i love that. >> this week's your biz selfie from michael bloch. popcorn charlie's. he sells online into retail outlets for all sorts of occasions. mike, as you see here, halloween. pick up your cell phone and take a picture of you and your business. no professional pictures. we want selfies. send it to us at email@example.com. include your name, location of
your business. thank you so much for joining us. if you want to get in touch, please do. accepted is us an he mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. please go to our website openforum.com/yourbusiness. we posted all the segments from today's show, plus a lot more for you. and of course we are on social and digital as well. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, i'm jj ramberg. and, remember, web make your business our business. make you business our business. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go! you got the green light.
that means go! oh, yeah. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we're gonna hit our launch date! (scream) thank you! goodbye! let us help with money and know-how, so you can get business done. american express open. that includes rebuilding our badly depleted navy which is now the smallest it has been since world war i. my plan bills the 350 ship navy we need. we will also build the 350 ship navy that our country has been asking for and our admirals have been asking for. >> our navy is the smallest it has been since world war i. we will build the 350 ship