tv Your Business MSNBC December 18, 2016 4:30am-5:01am PST
military community by the end of 2017. i'm very proud of him. male vo: comcast. good morning. coming up on msnbc's "your business," what will president-elect trump and his pick to head the sba, linda mcmahon, do to help small businesses in 2017 inthis landscape architect captures the feeling and smell of a vermont christmas in her wreaths and ends up with a booming mail order company. >> and the twin sisters behind the elf on the shelf craze talk about being inspired by passion, not profit. that and much more on a year-end edition of "your business."
hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, and elcome to "your business," the show dedicated to helping your small business survive, thrive, and grow, which is what all of us want to see in the new year. for owners and entrepreneurs, 2016 was a year of uncertainty. much of it centered around the presidential election. but what about 2017? the nfib optimism index for
november jumped 3.5 points to 98.4. that's the biggest jump we have seen since 2009. almost all of that increase came after the november 8th election with a marked increase in confidence that business will improve next year. president-elect trump has nominated linda mcmahon to head up the small business administration. so what can those of us who run businesses expect next year? dennis bradford is back with us. he's the national co-chair of the trump/pence small business advisory council, and katie is the vice president for government relations and public affairs at the national association for the self-employed. so good to see you both. >> thank you. >> i want to start with a new pick for the sba, katie, what do you think? >> i think it's great news. i think for most of america's small businesses and entrepreneurs, you know, they're really looking for action in this next administration.
and you know, some people say it's an unorthodox choice. i disagree. linda mcmahon with her experience of building what was a small company, 13 employees, to a worldwide brand is excellent and i'm excited to see what she can do to insure that our small businesses have the opportunity to grow and thrive in this new economy. >> and dennis. >> i agree exactly. i think someone that's walked the walk of a start-up to a successful business like we all are striving to do is really what we need in the administration, and at the sba, i also think we need strong management because we have had a history of managers. i think a manager could do a lot of good. >> there's criticism because her company is so big, she's been a little far away from the start-up world, at least personally, to understand what
small businesses need, but she has been involved with start-ups. dennis, do you want to talk a little bit -- >> that's exactly right. she's been there. that was my path. i started the company. i built it up, took it public, i sold it, and so i understand what the walk you have to walk. and i think she does, too. and the fact that she's been a business person is more important to me than the fact she's grown her business to be hugely successful. >> katie? >> well, i also think you have to look back at her 2010 and 2012 senatorial races where she made entrepreneurship and small business ownership, you know, kind of a keystone to her campaign. since she has decided on a new path away from public office, she's been doing a lot related to women and entrepreneurship. so i do think that her background specifically with the wwe is just one part of her story. and i like to believe that we all have good intentions so we're going to wait and see and
partner with her and make sure the sba is working for america's small businesses. >> it sounds like the sba has been very concentrated in this administration about championing women's businesses and it sounds like that's going to continue with linda mcmahon should everything go forward. let's talk about 2017. dennis, what is the number one priority, do you think, for helping small businesses in this upcoming year? >> i think the number one thing that will happen in the first 100 days of the trump administration is going back and taking a look at the regulation s. the overburden they have put on people that are out here trying to put together a company. you know, start-ups are down and the start-ups are down because the regulations make it so hard to start, you don't know whether theegulation you're living under is going to be the regulation that will be there after you have spent the capital. so i think that going and taking a look at the overreaching
regulations is number one. and that was our number one priority at the small business council when we were advising the trump campaign. >> we talked about that when you were here before the election. and you mentioned regulations as well. where do you start, with what regulations? >> well, i don't think there's any one in particular. i think you have to go examine them all. there are over 7,000 new regulations with a cost of several trillion dollars on the economy. small businesses today are hiring people that aren't working on their business. they're working on complying with regulations and paperwork. that's why i think productivity in the united states is down. if i have 30 employees and ten aren't working on my product, productivity is going to be less than when i used to have 30 people working on my product. >> so practically speaking, you think someone is going to go out and look at the 7,000 regulations and say yes, no, needs to be changed or are there some that you have in mind? >> i mean, there's plenty i have
in mind. obviously, the work overtime regulations that were put on hold by a judge in texas were huge for a lot of businesses. certainly a lot of nonprofits also. but i think you have all these different agencies. they all are going to have a new man at the top or woman at the top, and i think that those people are going to come in with donald trump's philosophy that if you're going to have regulations, they have to really mean something. they can't just be there. there are over 220,000 people in washington now that are regulators. >> katie -- >> that's an awful lot. >> katie, let's move to you. for 2017, what do you think is the number one priority? >> i would really love to see the administration, i guess maybe, two, if you'll let me, first, with the repeal and replace of the affordable care act. for our small businesses, this has been a huge issue. and many of them are desperate for a comprehensive health insurance plan that is reasonable from a financial perspective.
as we're working with the administration and leaders in congress for our members, i think that's key. and the second is actually tax reform and building off a little of what dennis was saying, regulation really strangling the small business, our complicated tax code that does not put the taxpayer front and center easier, if it's simplifications, a tax write off, if it's providing more money for the business owner to put back in their pocket and reinvist in their business. as we're looking at both of those things, and i think dennis is right. a lot of regulation, especially maybe it's just starting in the last couple years with the obama administration to review carefully the regulations they have put in place, i think will be a huge sign to not just america's small businesses but american businesses that are entering a new phase, and it's really about the entrepreneur, growing our economy, and
providing great jobs for americans. >> thank you so much for coming. i hope to talk to you many times throughout the next year. the stream of packages showing up at our doors sometimes feels endless during the holidays. but let's be honest. who doesn't love that kind of convenience? the owner of a christmas wreath company started her mail order business because she knew there were plenty of customers out there willing to pay for home delivery. while she isn't the first entrepreneur to tackle this kind of service, her creations are now part of christmas deck reactions hanging around the country. >> we make christmas wreaths and decorate them and ship them all over the country. once you've received one, it becomes a family tradition. that's the other piece that i really like to be a part of. >> it's the most wonderful time of the year in catherine hackett's east vermotworkshop.
>> been doing this a long time. my daughter is 30, so i guess you would say 31 years. it's been a really great journey. >> the smell of balsam reminds you of christmas. >> when they open the box, that smell transports them to a different time. i have gotten a lot of comments on that, that the fragrance reminds them of childhood or reminds them of a special time in their life. there's not a lot of businesses that you can do that with, actually. >> this landscaper rounds out her year's work by handcrafting the festive designs for her mail order business. >> my fvermont wreath. the tag line sums it up perfectly. the scent of vermont sent anywhere. >> we did 1,000 last year. we'll do pretty a little more than that this year. i make each one. i make every single wreath. >> all of the wreaths which are made with brush from local trees and make up a quarter of her yearly revenue take shape in a very short period of time.
>> we're working in this tiny window so there's a huge amount of pressure and stress to get it done. it's very intense and very focused. but i like that, too, because it keeps me centered. >> her mother, betsy cooke, knows how hardatherine works and how connected she is to her products. >> she's just there behind her wreath making machine for 14 hours. >> i sometimes while i'm sitting here doing this, i'm thinking about where this wreath is going to end up, whose house is this going to be at. which is kind of fun. >> what started out as a hobby for catherine turned into a seasonal operation after her friend who already had a mail order business, died from cancer. >> her husband couldn't -- didn't want to take and continue it on. and so i bought the mailing list. and it was a solid business decision because it was a list specifically designed for me almost. >> my vermont wreaths launched with 700 clients on that list.
along with named that katherine had collected on her own. now customers from across the country like in florida, oklahoma, and california, paying for her creations. >> i had her mailing list for nine years now. it's blossomed into a whole other direction that i could have never planned. >> the business is split into two parts. the wholesale and retail. >> november 1st, i'm in the shop making wreaths. and that's all gearing up for the wholesale part of the business, which all that product has to be done and completed by thanksgiving. >> early orders from nurseries and garden centers month in advance get production going. once those wreaths are picked up, she shifts her focus to the more personalized displayed. >> i work the mail order and shipping wreaths from november 21st. and i have even shipped after christmas. >> one person ordered this year, sent us a check and said your wreath made people so happy.
>> despite all of the phone calls and e-mails, this part of the process requires some guesswork. the mail orders are unpredictable. >> what i do is i make what i know i'm going to sell. i know i'll sell 300 to 400 so i make that, and then the orders keep coming in. that can be a bit difficult. i'm a smart girl. i figure it out. >> even if there's an unexpected bump in sales, catherine has her rhythm down and can make wreaths quickly. >> 1,000 is a lot. 100 is not. i can do 100. 1,000, you know, i would want to have a little advance notice. >> the relatively simple work flow can be adjusted for everything from a slow start to a busy finish. >> i have set up my shop so i can be bigger or smaller. i call it lateral flexibility, which to me means i can go big or small and i can sort of work however i need to. >> her team, which includes betsy, can pick up any jobs
necessary while catherine works her wheel. >> i make the bows for the wreaths. i handle the office work. process the shipping, and sometimes clip the brush. >> i train and i have my staff. and you saw today, people coming in and out. i have a support group of people that i can call in at any time. >> there are certain factors that are out of her control. mother nature has periodically been the culprit. >> weather is a huge problem. i had to pull u.p.s. out of my yard because we had so much snow. while we're making them and through the month of november, if the world is too warm, that's a huge problem. >> if there really is an issue with a wreath, catherine's take on customer service is straightforward, if there's a problem, it's replaced, no questions asked. >> i had the occasional wreath where it shed or something happened. it's a natural product, and i immediately send another wreath. >> the high number of repeat customers and their willingness
to spread the world about her designs are clear that she's on the right path. >> you're dealing with people from all over the country. it's lovely to have them call. it's everything. it tells me exactly how my business is doing. >> her goal is spreading joy and is all the inspiration she needs to continue to grow. >> frankly, the only thing that works is continuing to provide a stellar product every step of the way. i get the same people back every year, and they bring people, and those people bring people. so the product sells itself. >> not many people can say they work with santa claus, but sanda and christa are different. they have a direct line to jolly old st. nick, working with him and his helpers at the north pole. they created elf on the shelf, which has become a holiday
tradition in many homes including mine. we speak to chanda and christa about hiring for where you're headed. >> the people who work here work for santa claus, so when you have a team of people so dedicated to making the magic of christmas come alive 365 days a year, we are devoted to protecting that magic as you start looking for the people you may need to fill certain roles. you have to be willing to say, this person may be great on paper, but when it comes to do they fit, are they going to really be bought in, it's one of the most important things you can do as a company, is to make sure you're hiring for someone that's a cultural fit. it all starts with who you are as a company and your values and your purpose are very important. and then understanding what's important to you and why you're
doing what you're doing. >> you definitely want to hire for where you're going. i think christa and i would both say it's one of our top tips for people. because you start out at a certain level, and especially when we started out, we had no money, and not a lot of experience either in doing what we were doing. but what happens is that all of a sudden, it's still you doing everything. and you can't pass stuff off to anybody. so it's so important to hire employees who, you know, my grandfather always said hire better than you. don't be afraid to know where you're weak and find somebody who is strong. i was able to take a look at our financi finances and say we may not on paper be able to afford this right now, but a great, highly qualified cultural fit will take this company to another level with expertise that you need in order to grow. you have to be willing to invest in the key hires that know what
you don't know. >> even if it costs you a little more money in the end, the good people will pay for themselves. >> you cannot be everything to everyone. if you try to be everything to everyone, offering every experience there is out there, you're never actually going to see success for your vision. because you can't do it all. in the beginning, you have limited resources. you have limited people. you have limited time. you have limited money. and until you decide exactly what it is you're wanting to do and then you focus on that, it's the only way to be successful. >> i also think people can lose focus when they try to be everything to everyone. the second you do that, you're nothing to anyone. you have to know who you are and what you do better than anybody else, because if you don't, you're nothing. >> i think you have to eliminate the noise. i think you have to remember what it is that you got into this business, whatever it may be, for.
>> material things cannot, absolutely cannot be your motivation. i'm not sure you would have what it takes to finish the race, because you are the last person to get paid. you are the one who gets all of the headaches. you make all of the sacrifices. and if your motivation is something like money and you're not truly passionate about what you're doing, i don't think you would have the stamina to see it through. >> material things fade. and it cannot be your motivation for starting a business or running it. it has to come from passion because that's where your real willingness to sacrifice comes from. your drive, your hard work, your effort. it's going to go into something you believe in. >> money is a great benefit of the hard work and passion that you put into something.
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 open.com. how do we attract executives who have a specific area of expertise in the industry to come on board a lean startup and wear different hats and be comfortable in a very kind of shifty all hands on deck type environment? >> first of all, i love that question, because bringing on advisers is a great way to scale your business without the expense of hiring experts. so what you need to do is number one come up with a pitch. not a pitch to raise money, but a pitch to attract great advisers. second, you need to figure out a way to structure their involvemen so not only having
a compromise for them in terms of what they're going to do but you as a company compromising to them as to how you're going to use their time as wisely as possible. and find a way to compensate them. use equity, give them some percentage of the company that will vest over time or increase over time, you make sure everybody has their incentives aligned. >> we now have the top two tips you need to know to help your small business grow. let's introduce our panel and get their advice. serial entrepreneur angel investor howard love founded more than 15 companies and invested in more than 50 early stage startups. he's also author of the book "the startup curve." and carolyn rods of circular board. so good to see you both. >> thanks for having us. >> howard, let's start with you,
one tip. >> i suggest entrepreneurs that they embrace failure and it sounds very counterintuitive, but the reality is you're going to end up with a lot of failures and startups when you're going through your startups or life cycle. that's what the j-curve predicts, things may get worse before they get better. no such thing as a straight up into the right hockey stick. and by embracing failures, you're able to recognize them for what they are, whether it is the original product failure, team failure or marketing plan failure and you embrace that and deal with it quickly and thereby you can reallocate the precious resources to where they do the most good, to really successfully fail, you need to look at the data because the data doesn't lie, and you need extreme intellectual honesty so you can realize it and take it for what it is, and then you deal with it. and frankly, maybe even celebrate it, have a little champagne, it is that time of year. one of my favorite entrepreneurs
and, you know, great american legend and startup community is thomas edison, he said about the lightbulb, i have not failed, i just found 10,000 i was it won't work. hopefully there won't be 10,000 failures in your future, but it was for one great american entrepreneur and if you deal with it, your enterprise will be more likely to succeed. >> your leadership is incredibly important in those moments because you need to keep the team excited and keep the team inspired even though they see their work resulted in a failure. >> you're right. the truth is, you know, that's where real leadership comes up. everything is going great, leadership it turns out is not that hard. but it is when times get tough and you look at, you know, the great entrepreneurs like elon musk, for example, demonstrating incredible leadership when tesla was, you know, really going through a tough time and as was spacex, that's really when you need to pull the team together and i think, you know, number
one, just preparing them for the fact that failures happen and that it is a normal part of the startup process is critical. and then when it happens, it is, you know, it is just recognizing what is going on and it is dealing with it quickly, effectively and decisively. and people respond to that. you know, they will hang in there with you as long as you're being honest and straight with them and so it is really not the end of the world, it is simply part of being a -- of doing business as a startup. >> you need the stomach for it. okay, carolyn, your turn. >> okay. my top tip for entrepreneurs is to own the trajectory of your business. as the founder, nobody is looking out for your company in the way you are, you have to be ready to put in the time and the effort and pull in the right resources behind you. in line with what howard said, one of the things we really push through the circular board accelerator is preparing
founders for those noes. and not stopping when you hear them. so continuously chiselling away at the big problems, being able to prioritize those problems, and making sure you're going after them every single day. >> i think also, this goes back to what howard was saying too, don't rest on your laurels when things start to look good. i think some founders then pull back and say, okay, everything is going well, but you need to continue to have that same kind of excitement or hard work, even after things start to go well. >> exactly. i think we hear these great success stories and oftentimes it seems like that path was smooth sailing. and as any founder will tell you, everybody had those struggles and those obstacles and recognizing that's part of the process, and that no today doesn't necessarily mean no tomorrow is really important. it is that consistency where we see the biggest differentiator between the founders that are succeeding and founders that are struggling. >> thank you both so much, hope
to see you soon. >> thank you, j.j. unfortunately sometimes customers pay late or not at all. it is unavoidable and this happens to every business owner. luckily, there are ways you can keep this from becoming a frequent occurrence. mashable.com gives us five key things you can do to avoid not getting paid. one, have a written contract. without one, there is no legal obligation for a client to pay you. two, use recurring billing. one of the biggest reasons why businesses don't get paid is because they forgot to request payment. choose a software that will take care of that job for you. three, keep it simple. using words like days instead of net will get you paid 14% more often. you want the bill to be easy to understand for the client. four, track pavement history. consider sending a gift to your customers who pay on time.
on the flip side, if you notice that a client has a pattern of being late, you may want to contact their billing department to find out why or even intercor letting them go. mind your manners. research has shown that adding a please or thank you to an invoice can increase the chance of getting paid by more than 5%. this week's your biz selfie comes from martin of homer, alaska, who owns a fantastic business, scenic bear viewing. he flies people on bush planes to alaska's national parks to view and photograph grizzlies in their natural environment. that looks amazing. now, go pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business, it probably doesn't have a bear in it, but send it to us anyhow, at email@example.com or tweet it to us. include your name, the name of your business and the location and please use th the #yourbizselfie. thank you for joining us today.
we would love to hear from you. if you have questions or comments about the show, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. also, please go to our website, openforum.com/yourbusiness. we posted all of the segments from today's show and a whole lot more. and don't forget to connect with us on all our digital and social media platforms too. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. 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
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 open.com. reacting to russia, vladimir putin's reported meddling in the u.s. election. will president-elect trump acknowledge it? and how will president obama respond? >> we need to take action and we will by the time and place of our own choosing. >> we'll talk to congressman gregory leaks from the foreign affairs committee and former u.n. ambassador bill richardson. plus, the unusual effort to stop trump in the electoral college. fightor the future of the democratic party. and trump's thank you to black voters. >> they didn't come out to vote for hillary. they didn't come out. that was a big -- so thank you to the african-american community. >> new report on voter suppression in 2016, from roef