tv Your Business MSNBC June 30, 2012 5:30am-6:00am EDT
talking to them about their situation, we knew that our team of experts led by mike would be able to get them back on track. and that's how we decided to give these contractors a "your ç business" makeover. >> we are in acton, massachusetts, looking for synergy. we reached out to your business needing help and we are here to help them, if i can find them. it is a beautiful day, i'll tell you this, we are not walking into a beautiful situation. the owners are ken and jewel yourself and have been struggling for quite a while in their business. let's get to work. hey, guys. >> hey, how you doing? >> hi. i'm mike. >> i'm ken. this is my partner julius. >> good to meet you. >> ken howell and julius are general contractor who is started the business synergy here in massachusetts. they fix up houses by remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, finishing basements and building
porches and decks. earlier this year they sent us this video plea. >> and i would love to have my company considered for your small business makeover on your tv show. >> these guys need help. the company is not growing, they are bleeding out money and are completely overworked. basically, this company needs a makeover. ♪ >> the financial stress for you, what's that like? ups and downs? >> yeah. specifically, it's mostly downs. i mean, it's stressful, you know. month to month. the cash flow is something that's really hard to mesh. >> i look at the stack of bills and wonder who is going to be the least mad if i don't pay this month. >> ken)pj put his entire life savings in this greating his bank account leaving no cushion whatsoever. >> there's been a few times in the past six months when i said my spiri is tapped out, i have
nothing left. >> plus i pile on and give him a bunch of crap. >> they want upscale, profitable jobs. they are not getting them. they want to be managers, not workers. instead they have had to lay people off. it was not supposed to be this hard. >> we are both swinging hammers, and while we enjoy that, julius is exceptional at it, we want to do running projects and not us being the projects. >> more of our time should be spent on the management side than on the labor side. so that's sort of my vision. that's simple, then call me a simple guy. >> ken told us he fell into contracting after leading an unsatisfying day job. he was good at doing handyman work and not only that he really enjoyed it. a few years later he met julius, ang independent carpenter. the two teamed up to become business partners. >> what's the distribution? >> we do a 50/50. >> okay. >> basically an epa.
>> epa what? you mean a sole proprietorship. >> we need to create an llc. >> the goal for 2012 is to formalize a partnership and then start an llc. >> do you guys have a document? >> we have a spit handshake. >> yeah. >> i think i have heard enough now, but i want to see you in ç action. you guys want to take a spin? >> let's go. >> you lead the way. >> if i fall, catch me. i'm terrified. >> after talking to the guys and checking out their work, mike was impressed. so what was the problem? why aren't these guys getting re work? mike talked to one of their clients. >> i cannot think of all the different jobs he's done in our house. >> and check out the website, the biggest marketing tool. suddenly, things started to become clear. >> so i sat down and spoke with your customers, laura and tina. and i looked at your website and saw imas that you like is not consistent with what you
customer likes. so one thing we want to do is revamp the images an your site. >> in order to protect the high-end image they wanted, synergy needed a redesign. we asked local photographer robert shea to help out. >> how are you? nice to meet you. >> robert specializes in taking photos for annual reports and offered to provide ken and julius with a whole new look, something more managerial. >> put you in position of managers, not the doers anymore. that's what we want. >> the new photos were simply step one. when we come back, we cap the other issues holding synergy home back. their handshake agreement exposes them to serious liability risks. the website is projecting an image they don't want to project. and they're punishing work schedule has them on a treadmill they cannot escape. mike brings back the "your business" s.w.a.t. team to turn the company around. >> there's absolute hope for these guys. they are on the brink ofç success, it is just a few
changes significant that they can execute that i'm willing to show them. this is the common entrepreneur problem. i see this all the time. make a few key cheng changes, they have to stick with the changes, and it will make a world of difference. when you hear the term bootstrapper you think of somebody starting their company without a lot of money, but this means bootstrapping has nothing to do with funding, it's a state of mind. and it is what you absolutely need have if you are going to make your business successful. seth is a beth-selling author writing the most popular marketing blog in the world is a successful entrepreneur himself. here's earned the admiration of several business people and is here to talk to us about the lessons learned from his book "the bootstrapper's bible." thank you for joining us, seth. first of all, the book is free. >> it is now. >> so anyone can go to get this. type in "the bootstrapper's bible" free copy and you'll find
it. >> boot strapping to you, it is not starting off $20 in your bank account or your credit card debt. it is a way of thinking, right? >> that's right. so the thought is that what you do as a small business person is you're disrupting the universe. that the universe is going to be different after you show up. that's not the way big companies think. big companies say, we have this engine of commerce, we have a job to do every day. but the bootstrapper comes in and says, what i need to do is connect people who want my product more than they want their money, right? vendors who want my business more than they need toç be pai today. and if i can make those connections happen, i can grow this thing forever, right? because if the product is worth it, if it's so powerful that people need it and are willing to wait in le for it, then they're willing to pay you up front. we were talking before about tough mudder, a company that runs events that people want to do obstacle courses in the mud. it's not cheap and you pay upfront, which makes it easy for
the guys to rent the farm to put it on and there's a profit left. if you can do that over and over again, the next thing you know you are in 500 cities. >> the other thing is, when you're bootstrapping small and just starting up, one of the great things is you don't have a lot to lose. i'm going to be risk taking with this because if it fails who cares, but once i've been in business four years and now i have ten employees and half of them have kids, suddenly it's a little bit harder to take risks. and so how do you keep that mentality? >> when i talk about in the purple cow is the purple cow is something people are willing to talk about it, but after they talk about it it's time to milk the purple cow and use the cash cow to pay for it, the next thing you're going to launch. that's the magic of the book publishing business. the bills are paid year after year after year that let's them do "50 shades of gray" which is speculative. your current business should be funding the next thing you want to do, that's part of the bootstrapper mindset. the reason you're doing this is
not to buy yourself a job, right? not some sandwich franchise where every day you're making the same ham and cheese, that's not the goal. if you want to do that, go make ham and cheeseç sandwiches, th goal is how to make a ruccous and have it self-fund to make another ruccous tomorrow. >> what's interesting about that is you talk about being an underdog. you are actually in a position of power because people are rooting for you, right? >> that's right. >> and i thought at first, how are you the underdog if you are you can seszful but you can be if you use your success to fund something where you are the underdog. >> every example is out there like google. google is winning but gmail comes out of nowhere, so they are the underdog. the nerds get behind it. and is winning but the iphone, how can they succeed against motorola? all the nerds come out for that. when you come out with the new thing, the new notion, your audience, your tribe, your followers are going to be rooting for the new thing to work because it says something about them, too. it says they are a part of an organization that wants to make
interesting things happen. >> someone told me a piece of advice that was really great, as you get more successful and have money and contacts, every time you make a big decision that's going to cost a lot of money say, how would i accomplish the same thing without spending any money if i were just starting snout. >> exactly. and you'll probably do it better. what we do when we have money is cover ourselves against the downside, paper it over with three levels of stuff. a friend of mine worked at requested saturday night live." when they build a sketch, it costs more to build the kitchen than it does in your house, even though they bud it for five minutes. that gets in the way of saying, let's put a kitchen in, because you have to pay for it. the mindset is not how to i guarantee to make it çwork, ho do i do it cheap enough to get it to work. >> you have to be creative when you don't have the contacts and the money. so the book, everyone can download it for free. thank you for coming on the show. >> thank you, j.j.
coming up next, can this business be saved? we go back to massachusetts as the "your business" makeover team help this is building company construct new ways to market itself, protect itself and find new clients. ♪ you know, those farmers, those foragers, those fishermen.... for me, it's really about building this extraordinary community. american express is passionate about the same thing. they're one of those partners that i would really rely on whether it's finding new customers, or, a new location for my next restaurant. when we all come together, my restaurants, my partners, and the community amazing things happen. to me, that's the membership effect.
as we saw earlier, building contractors ken and julius are on a punishing treadmill of low profit work. watch as the "your business" team of experts refocus their website and rebuild theirç partnerships. >> it's one week later and we are back here at synergy total home. i can't wait to see what's going on. let's look at their business. hey, guys. good to see you again. julius, ken. >> good to sew you, mike. >> after a thorough review of the synergy business, it was clear they needed help. mike came back with the "your business" rescue team in tow ready to turn the company inside out. ♪ >> first up, the website. denise is the ceo of s3, a
marketing and branding company based in new jersey. denise came up with three logo and branding options to help the device make the right first impression. >> we decided we need to remake how you present yourselves a little bit and we went in three different directions, one that sort of evolves what you have now and two very different. so let's go. >> yeah. ♪ >> we took synergy and we wanted to make it stronger, bolder, more relevant to what you do now. and we wanted something that was clean and el gantd and strong. >> what's your first impressions? >> yeah, i like it. >> it is very clean and bold. >> a little more revolutionary. people, you know their names, you're going to their homes, they would like to know about you. you are your business. so we wanted to be very upfront about that. this sort of shape herq2 the diamond shape, it's bright, it's strong with the construction
feeling, however it is elegant. >> first impressions of this? >> that's great. that's really nice. >> very simple and sometimes simple is the great way to go. >> it is not a vague sounding company name maybe, so it really kind of humanizes it. >> so this is where we really went to the outer limits. and what we did was we wanted to make something very vow sneak. again, your names are so great, we thought, why not put them together to get synergy, so it's not using the word synergy but the idea of it. well worth modeling with the title of, you're suggesting this is well worth doing with you. really elegant, really identifiable and ownable. >> it's bold. >> that's classy. >> i look at this and think of an expensive hotel, extreme quality. now you're combining names. one think i like about this,
too, the other one had the full proper name. >> which one are we going with? >> wellworth. we are going to combine that with some of the design elements from one of the other cards and there we go. >> i love how the wellworth looks but we love the name to combine those. >> the other thing we loved is the photography, that denise featured prominently on the new website. >> these are the best pictures we have had. a huge upgrade. >> i like that you both immediately liked it as partners. big deal. >> after con suggesting with friends and family, ken and ç julius decided to go with the orange background option. then denise built them a new website along with a facebook page and mobile app to kickoff their identity. it hits the web this week. everyone was excited about the new look and the new name and mike raised an important question. >> do you think the new look could turn off your customers? >> no, i don't see how it could. if that's going to turn them off, they are probably a customer we don't want. >> love that you're committed,
but we have to do one more thing. just speaking words is not enough. i want to take a big action right now everyone, here's the big moment. we are getting rid of the old name. it's gone. >> with a new name and a new outlook, ken and julius were ready to meet the next member of the rescue team. attorney mitch ekle from ekle, morgan and o'connor. with more than 30 years in small business and tax law, we cast mitch with turning the handshake agreement into a legal partnership. >> mitch, we are here to get the business straightened out once and for all and get everything legally and properly done. >> all right. you have an oral partnership right now, you must have concern about liability. >> absolutely. >> i was looking at your project today to say, well, if the banister comes loose and somebody tumbles off of that, how can we protect you? >> if that did happen, what could be the result? >> well, you know, the result, you can get sued. we live in a la knowledgeous
society. any time somebody suffers anç adverse event, somebody thinks there's a lawsuit. we need an endty to protect your personal assets from business liability. >> if i can interject right here, this is where we get into the detail. i hear attorney/client privilege stuff coming up. you clearly have a lot of work in front of you. i'll step out, you keep tackling this and let's plan to close the day by having a business. all right? >> after mitch got the information he needed to write the agreement, mike circled back to get his take on the situation. between me and you, how precarious is their situation? >> because you and me, i would call it a mess. because they really are exposed. you never can tell where liability comes from. >> now do we feel comfortable to clean this up pretty quickly to get them on the right track. >> i can get them incorporated within a couple hours. >> before we go back to the car, what do you guys think? >> this is great.
we need to formalize this. just from my standpoint from the liability issue, that makes me nervous, especially since my name is on the bottom line on the current moment. >> we have had this on the wish list for this current year, since we are changing our name, the perfect time to formalize the agreement and get it all done and rolling. >> back at the job site, a supreme court awaits. our architect in nearby concord is the last member of the s.w.a.t. team. he's been using ken and julius's services for years. today bill is going to introduce the guys to his friend chris. chris is another architect, a partner at design associates. and chris is working on several largeç residences in a nearby neighborhood, exactly the kind of jobs these guys are after. >> chris, what do you look for when it comes to guys like these, who are the people you need? >> that's a real good question because i want to be able to call-up the design professionals that you have worked with in the past. i get so much value out of that. >> ken and julius got a chance to show off their work.
chris was especially interested in their working relationship with designers and architects. >> we really look at the plans in depth and always end up questions for you guys so we like a real give and take and on-site meetings before the project starts and after the project has gun as well. >> we want to all be on the same page, basically. >> this is music to my ears. >> everyone hit it off nicely, so that's when mike stepped in to close the deal. >> let me ask you a question, chris, what would be the next step with you to keep the dialogue going? >> good question. i think maybe we, maybe you come into my office and get a sense of what we do. and if you have a brochure or photos of projects you have done, anything that kind of can show me about how you add minister a project, let's say. let's have lunch or something like that. >> we would love to do that. we should schedule that. >> i heard the three magic words, let's have lunch. i think we are done. you guys have lunch and continue on. >> by the end of the day ken and julius had a new company name, a
whole new look, a partnership agreement and a lunch date with a potential client. all the things they needed to start turning this company around. >> you wrote a letter saying you needed help, do you think we delivered on what you needed? >> we are going to have a new perception because of the name and marketing, yeah, we'll be a different company from today on than we are right now. >> twitter can be a great resource to help amplify marketing messages and growing your business, here are five tweet ideas courtesy of businessbest.com. one, offer exclusive discounts. tweet a secret word to get money off when visiting your business. two, go behind the scenes. share videos or photos to give followers access to information they cannot get anywhere else. three, press. let your followers know of any positive news about your business or even your industry in general.
include a link and name the media outlet whenever possible. four, try some q&a. list a frequently asked question in your tweet and answer with a web address. five, think of the photo as your punch line. photos will inspire people to retweet your post. in my company we have a rule. no idea leaves the room without somebody owning it. why? well, look, if nobody takes responsible responsibility for an idea chances are it will get lost and nothing will get done. for somebody to get done, we need to be accountable. the best selling author and host of "million dollar neighborhood" own oprah winfrey network. great to see you,bruce. congratulations on the show which started this week, very exciting. so accountability, i'm such a big fan of what you talk about
here. and you say one of the first problems is that people don't have knowledge. >> they don't know. they don't know what they are accountable for or what that means. the customer is irate at your company if your accountable for insuring they are doing business with you, what does that mean? what is that behavior? that's knowledge, the first thing. when somebody is not accountable, what we as consumers think is they are dumb, lazy or trying to annoy us. that's the automatic thought. >> they didn't know that's their job. >> they didn't know that's their job. the first thing a leader or manager or business opener needs to do is train them. here's what they looks like in terms of what you are for and what the results are that you're accountable for. >> and i love that, the results. if you're accountable for something, you want to be praised if you're doing it well or you want constructive criticism if you're not. >> and there are three categories of results. there's volume, so revenue or sales. the quality of customer service and time. did you get it done on time.
and all of the three things count to varying degrees depending on the circumstances. >> make sure people know what they are accountable for and follow-up on. second thing you talk about is feelings. >> people aren't accountable because they are jealous, angry, bored, overwhelmed or fearful. >> they already know they should be, but they are not taking ownership of it. >> they have taken the ballnd gone home,ç metaphorically speaking. there's something preventing that from happening. often business owners don't go in there to address the feeling to say, listen, i get it, you're infuriated because we changed your shift four times. what requests do you have of me to do differently to leap over the hurdle of feelings and be accountable again. >> and i know a lot of people get turned off when they hear feelings. >> not that. >> but it is really important because i could be someone and someone got promoted over me and
then suddenly i think, why do i need to be accountable for this stuff, who cares? >> and the smart business owners say listen, i know you're annoyed because somebody else got promoted over you, i get it. here's what we'll do to make sure the next time it's you or whatever. most of the time you go, la, la, la, la. it's not happening. we pretend people don't have feelings and they do. >> and i think what's important is making them know how if you do a good job at this, you just said, a career path, right? now let's get to the next one, excuses. >> it is insidious. we use excuses to justify why we did not get the results. to excuse is to relieve from duty. how do we tell what is an excuse or isn't? the traffic was bad. it really was bad, the circumstance was true. at one point is that tipping over into an excuse? the frequency with which you say the traffic was bad. traffic was bad once a month. then it is like, yeah, traffic was bad. traffic is bad three times a week, you're not leaving early enough. leave earlier to get to work.
second is breath, the traffic was bad so i was late, so i'mç annoyed, so i don't have the project done on time, so i was mean to a customer. no, the traffic was bad so you're late. you can't use that to explain everything. and then the third is your gut. if you're really, really honest with yourself and you said, if i'm accountable, i get no excuses. then is the traffic really, really relevant here? >> well, bruce, million dollar neighborhood, congratulations again. thank you so much for coming on the show. hope to see you soon. >> my pleasure. we've gotten some great advice from the makeover experts and bruce and now let's get great ideas from small business owners like you. >> i think the biggest piece of advice is something very simple i learned early on in my career, and that's simply become the expert in your field. stay up-to-date with the news in your industry. and just know everything about what you do so that, you know, if anyone asks you a question,
you can speak intelligently about it. >> be honest to your clients. if a mistake is made by one of your sales reps, then own up to it. you're the owner of the company. solve the problem and move forward. >> a lot of small business owners have the idea that they cannot negotiate with larger entities because they are significantly smaller than the larger entities. that does not necessarily have to be the case. the situationis, any time any entity is negotiating with you, it is because they sense value in you. as such, the one thing that it behooves you to do in such situations is to magnify the perception that they have of you and the value and present it in a larger valuable proposition moment. >> i love my junk mail. why? because you get junk mail from so many company that is spend hours and hours of research and in creating that message to you or getting that reward program
in place. or even how their sales people approach you. if you can take that advice and say, how can i use one or two ideas in my business tomorrow? this is advice that's very, very, something that you can do immediately without major investment. you go on a lot of business tests but don't want to play room roulette with hotels? check out room77.com that's a site that compares prices to give you the inside scoop of the hotel rooms. after setting your preferences like high or low floors, the site generates a list of room that is best match your criteria. the one drawback? to book a specific room, you need to call the hotel. to learn more about today's show, just click on the website. openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments plus web-exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. also follow us on twitter @msnbcyourbiz and don't forget to become a fan on
facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week, another very special show. we come to you again from this year's new york times small business summit. we'll be talking to attendees about their needs, issues and get some fantastic advice from experts on çfunding, branding d practical applications for social media. and it's one of new york's oldest family-owned businesses and one of the most visible. find out the secret of keeping your business afloat from the fourth and fifth generatns of the tugboat owning mcalister family. >> what is it about your family that's been able to hold on to this when so many other family businesses leave the family after the second, third, fourth generation? >> i think it's tt irishmenalty of tradition, the passion for tradition. they just want to hold on to it. >> until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. and remember, we make your business our business. they have names like idle time books and smash records
and on small business saturday they remind a nation of the benefits of shopping small. on just one day, 100 million of us joined a movement... and main street found its might again. and main street found its fight again. and we, the locals, found delight again. that's the power of all of us. that's the power of all of us. that's the membership effect of american express. what a week this has been, right? this is supposed to be the dog days ofç summer, nobody paying attention to politics and washington beside the point. yeah, right. this week congress was in session today. they passed this big highway bill that nobody thought they
would be able to pass as part of that passed the student loans things so everybody with student loans will not so their rates double. president obama was in colorado where they are suffering through the worst wildfires in history, killed two people already and threatening built up population centers like colorado springs. the supreme court ruling yesterday, of course on health reform has democrats and republicans and liberals and conservatives still vibrating in a high pitch, still reacting to the enormity of that ruling and scrambling to figure out what the implications are going to be in polyand politics, not least any presidential campaigns. in the midst of the political up and down yoen yum after this epic decision, the house of representatives voted to hold the attorney general in contempt of congress and nobody noticed. one republican congressman went on fox this morning and jumped up andown trying to