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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  October 26, 2013 2:30am-3:01am PDT

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today we continue our series main street usa by heading down south to natchez, mississippi, where downtown seems to be on the upswing. we ask small business owners what they're doing right. that's coming up next on "your business." >> small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we're proud to
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present "your business" on msnbc. ♪ ♪ hi there everyone. i'm jj ramberg and welcome to your business where we champion entrepreneurship by giving you information and advice to help your small business grow and survive. the partial shutdown of the government and the threat of not raising the debt ceiling dime an end, at least for now. when a senate deal was passed by congress and signed by the president. but not before causing serious economic hardship for many small businesses. more uncertain it is left for main street. the committee chaired by marry lan droe heard things that the shutdown including the shuttering of the sba will have
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a long-term impact. >> as a small business owner, i am deeply impacted by the events that unfolded over the last two weeks that forced our employees and families to cope with the realities of this government shutdown. they know what it means to have their jobs placed in jeopardy by events that wholly outside of their control. as a result of the shutdown we've made difficult choices in the way we manage our human capital. permanent layoffs, due to government shutdowns are commonplace, forcing us to say goodbye to some of our best and brightest employees. >> many black-owned small businesses like mr. ford's were particularly hard hit. harry alford is the ceo of the national black chamber of commerce. thanks so much for joining us today. thank you, jj, i'm glad to be here. >> federal employees will get paid now but i don't think people truly understand the impact this shutdown had on small businesses across the country. i mean, the person who sells bagels at federal buildings who had no revenue coming in for
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three weeks. talk to me about the businesses you've talked to who that decreased revenue, that lost revenue for three weeks as has a real impact on their companies. >> we can go back to the last shutdown where many businesses went under or into bankruptcy. i was talking to one of my members this week. he staffs about 2,000 prison guards at several federal prisons. they have to be paid every two weeks. he can't say well, we're shut down, we have to wait a while fellas. no, they are essential. they have to work. they have to be paid. now, what does the business owner do? he needs cash. he needs cash in lieu of no cash flow coming in. so if he has reserves, he'll get through. if he doesn't, he's going to tank, going to the bank in this type of situation too risky for a bank. you're out in the woods all by yourself. if you can't find a way to get cash, if you don't have it already or if you do have cash,
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you have to spend your reserves which makes you more vulnerable as time goes on. >> can you just list for me a couple of other small businesses because i want to get out there the impact. it's all different kinds of businesses out there that were affected that weren't talked about in the news and in congress. >> yeah. contractors, accounting firms and such. they have to continue on. in fact, they were told you will continue on and we will pay when you we can. they all received these letters. now you would think essential people like the prison guards, they were told to keep going on, but we're not going to pay you. there is a perception that a few were in an essential capacity that you would be paid. that wasn't the case. >> we talked a lot about the national parks. what about the cities, the entrances to the national parks where tourists weren't coming anymore. so there are all of those gift shops, all of those restaurants, hotels, suddenly empty for three
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weeks. when you run a small business, three weeks of revenue is incredibly important. >> yeah. yellowstone park, millions of dollars, grand canyon, millions of dollars are gone and they're not coming back to the small businesses. >> all right. let's talk about the future. you talked a little bit about the past. so now the government is open again. all of these small businesses suddenly have their customers again hopefully. but how can they be certain about what's going to then happen a few months down the road? >> they're not certain. there's a lot of uncertainty. 90 days from now, it could happen again. we keep kicking this can down the road. we need our debt to be lowered, we need to stop spending and we need a budget. i mean, the largest corporation in the world, united states of america, is not operating on a budget. it's crazy. so there's uncertainty out there and the entrepreneur who is tough and strong and getting beat up. >> i just wanted to ask one quick question about the thing
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that started all of this, which is obama care. how do your constituent wednesday and members feel about obama care now that it's starting to roll out? >> don't like it at all. it's constantly -- no one knows where it's going to go or end, but i believe, let's not get hung up on obama care. i think it's going to implode on its own. >> all right. well, it was so nice to see you. thank you very much for helping talk and let people know really how many small businesses were truly affected by this. and for them, it doesn't end with the government reopening. thanks a lot. >> may god bless them. thank you. we've been traveling the country this year to find out how small businesses are doing on main street usa. this week we hit the road once again, going to natchez, mississippi. this 300-year-old town has a population of about 16,000. and like many main streets we visited, there are empty storefronts. but unlike in other towns, business owners here have found a formula for survival.
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a formula they proudly shared with us. ♪ >> in the days of hoop skirts and cotton plantations, natchez, mississippi, used to be oun of the wealthiest cities in all of the south. and today, if you drive around, you still see all these old beautiful mansions. downtown used to be a bustling vibrant place. today, there's still a lot going on downtown, but not as much as there used to be. but people here really care about the downtown and they are not going to let it disappear. so we spent the day here to find out what these small businesses are doing, how they've had to diversify in order to keep their businesses alive, which in turn kept their downtown alive. >> my name is billy gillen. i formed the group in 1974. we moved to this location in 1980 so we've been here on main street, natchez, mississippi, for 33 years. >> you're doing people's taxes. do you find that in order for
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someone to really survive, to have a store on main street, really survive, they need to be involved in more than one business? >> generally speaking, that's correct. right. >> one much them just the storefront isn't enough. they don't make enough money from that. they need to do something else? >> the storefront, there's not enough real activity and traffic downtown to really hold a business. >> i'm sue steadman, i'm co-owner of crye leike realtors and been on main street since march of 2005. >> your family, you're small business owners, how have you survived. >> we've embraced a variety of different disciplines in the real estate business. we initially started out as strong residential, we've moved into commercial. my husband handles a tremendous amount of recreational timber land. you can't just survive on one tiny little piece. >> hey, y'all, i'm mary lease
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wilson. i own one of a kind gifts in downtown natchez. i've been at this location in this historic building for 23 years. come on in. >> a lot of these stores here have apartments upstairs. >> right. >> you rent out the apartment upstairs and one in the back as well? >> i do. >> how does that help you? >> oh, my. it pays my bank note for one thing which is wonderful. then too, those people shop with us. >> in essence, your real estate is free. you have a mortgage but it's paid by your renters. >> exactly. >> i'm renee adams. i'm co-owner of rolling river roasters on main street in natchez, mississippi. >> one season on main street, it's very busy, especially in the tourism town. in the other time, your catering has to take care of retail side. it's about your partnerships and relationships to make it all happen. >> i find that with so many people i talk to here, you have more than one business. >> you have to have it. you can't rely on one avenue because of the dips and turns. as a single entrepreneur, it's very hard, all about cash flow. >> i will tell you one of the
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reasons i'm happy to be down south is this tea, sweet tea. >> that is our own special tea with a little bit of lemonade. >> it's really good. >> a few other things that make it sweet. >> i'm scott kimbrel, we've owned kimbrel office supplies in downtown natchez, main street, natchez, mississippi. >> can you be a company on main street and have one main street shop anymore? >> i don't think so. we've added companies and services for our customers. >> how many companies do you own? >> three companies. >> so does a vibrant downtown matter to you? >> oh, yes, oh, absolutely. just recently, two young ladies opened up a store down the street from us. and they have faith in it. >> i'm amber rayburn and i'm ashley smith. >> we own a gallery and we've been open for nine days. >> what does having your own business, your own store in
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downtown natchez mean to you? >> it's something that i've always wanted. always wanted to open up a store. >> when you were deciding to open up this store and do it in downtown natchez, were you nervous at all walking around and seeing a lot of storefronts boarded up, vacancies? >> definitely. we were nervous anyway to open up a store because i've never been in this kind of industry. i was nervous but optimistic that it would do well. i feel like natchez needed this. >> do you think that you can survive by just having this storefront on main street? can you make enough money? >> we hope we can. we're very optimistic about it. we're just hoping and praying. >> my name is mary beth shown and the name of my business is m. schoen. i've been on main street in natchez for eight years, ever since katrina. i have an online business, m and an online magazine called modern and i've written a couple of books on american
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studio jewelry. my business encompasses this gallery, the magazine, writing, biography, teaching and then also selling online. >> i'm toby williams, i have toby's salon in natchez, mississippi. i've been on main street for 11 years now. >> sound like a lot of people who work here and have small businesses here have multiple jobs. >> you have to. >> why? >> to make ends meet. if you think we should visit main street in your town, please write us and tell us why. the e-mail address is your the online photo sharing service instagram is one of the world's most popular social media networks. is your company using it yet? here are five instagram tips courtesy of yfs magazine. >> include hash tags. they're the best way to find and connect with other users who are
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talking about a specific topic. two, use the images to create a story. take customers behind the scenes of product launches. share event pictures and post images off existing products and services. giving customers a visual glimpse inside the world of your brand creates higher intrigue and interest. >> three, involve the entire company. encourage your employees to follow your brand, like and comment on the images and post their own images. four, timing is important. according to online marketing company wish pond, monday at 5:00 p.m. pacific standard time is the best time to post a photo. and five, create an share videos. take advantage of this new feature that lets you share 15 second long videos. for example, share a how-to video or a customer q and a. in many cases, what really makes up a consumer's mind is not only simple but free.
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word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. our guest here has tips on how to get people talking about your brand and how to harness to consumers on a daily basis. the founder and ceo and president of a digital and social media marketing agency and author of "highly recommended." harnessing the power of word-of-mouth to build your brand and your business. great to see you. >> good to be here. >> word-of-mouth is so powerful. when i built my business, it's how we grew. we tried to do some sort of more traditional or internet marketing. word-of-mouth is what built us. >> what's wonderful today is that it's become the great leveller for small businesses. the ability to connect and engage with your audience and prospects in a way that really was available only to the big spenders has completely changed the dynamic. >> let's talk about how you get people to start talking about you and one of the things you talk about is the story. >> it is. before i even get to it, i think
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one of the things that the point on that is that over 90% of all people will tell you the reason, just like what you said, they bought a product or service is because someone recommended it to them. this idea of it being accidental is not the case at all. it's actually deliberate. to this idea of the story, if you have a good idea of how you want people to recommend your brand and you help them do it, they will likely participate in that. it also has a big difference on how you're searched for search behavior as well. >> talk to me about that. how you recommend your brand. i'm basically putting words into your mouth. >> you were. the last time i heard somebody say i'm going to mcdonald's because i'm loving it is zero. if i'm going to be based my business on catering and great service and the freshest food in town, i want to reinforce that message and give people the opportunity to say that on a regular basis. what's important, through all your communications, if you came back and said this is how i want
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people to recommend me and talk about me, then all of the functions of your business have to work towards supporting that. if it's just flew one channel, marketing, it doesn't work. >> you're talking live your brand. >> it is live your brand. >> let's take a skin care company, right? >> right. >> so i just tried this skin care. there are a thousand options that i have. i used it on my face. i love it. so i tell my friend, hey i put this on and now i look 20 years younger. what can they do to me to get me to tell my friend? >> part of that, as i've been watching your show, you hear a lot of people talk about this concept of developing a relationship which sounds how am i supposed to develop a relationship? >> what you want to be doing is actually finding people that are already talking about your product and encourage and share and give them additional information. people thrive when they're given inside information, new experiences. they're giving ideas that wouldn't come through normal channels. if somebody is talking about
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your company, give them things to share. what's fascinating, is so much of our businesses, people find us and then talk about us. seven of the eight leading things that drive search behavior today are social conversations, how consumers are talking about the brands. in the book that i've put out, highly recommended, the idea of saying, if you know -- you pop up higher in the search rankings as well. >> people will start talking about you and you'll have more links. >> the only thing that really matters today, because it encompasses everything, how are people talking about and recommending your brand? whether you're doing well or not well determines how the conversation goes. >> if i can distill this into the last two or three seconds. you have your brand, a good product, take that as a given. create your story around this product. market yourself around this story. >> engage with people in a way that is of interest to them. 90% of the time is about the topic much interest to you both. that 10% of the time is about
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your commercial messages. >> great. it was so nice to talk with you. again, word-of-mouth marketing is -- it's golden. nothing better than that. >> totally agree. >> thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> when we come back, the answers to your small business questions, including how to introduce innovation into an older company set in its ways and scott gerber, ceo of the gerber bar and restaurant empire temps us why it's important for you to trust your employees and for them to trust you. in this week's learning from the pros. has it's ups and downs. seasonal... doesn't begin to describe it. my cashflow can literally change with the weather. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a big difference. the plum card from american express
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gives your business flexibility. get 1.5% discount for paying early, or up to 60 days to pay without interest, or both each month. i'm nelson gutierrez and i'm a member of the smarter money. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. since it started in 1991, hospitality and nightlife company, the gerber group, opened up some of the most popular night spots in cities across the country. you likely heard of or been to some of them. whiskey blue, stone row lounge and the living room. with 20 venues open, there are plans to keep expanding. scott gerber who started the business with his brother randy, is now the principal and ceo of the gerber group. he talks to us about the need to be around knowing your
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competition and always saying thank you in this learning from the pros. >> ♪ ♪ >> being around is important in so many different aspects of our business. the first part is being around for your guests. you know, so they know that there is a real person behind this company but the heart of our business is really our employees. i think being around is really about being around for your employees. what that means to me is i have a very open-door policy. you don't need an appointment to meet with me. it's anybody. it can be a busser, barback, server, whomever it is. when i'm at the bars, i'm talking to staff. not just meeting with the manager. i want to hear what the barbacks have to say. a lot of them can tell you what's going on in your properties. that builds so much loyalty. >> hiring trustworthy people,
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especially in a businesslike the bar, restaurant business is integral to being successful. a lot of it has to do with the responsibility that i place in people and the trust that you give them to run a business. i guess the question is, how do you know somebody is trustworthy when you're just hiring them? a lot has to do with a gut feeling, how they come across. what we've learned in our business, one of my partners today, a managing partner, started off as a doorman. got promoted to be an assistant manager, a manager, a regional manager and now a partner. that is trust to me. we've made tons of mistakes, hired a lot of the wrong people and things haven't worked out. but by and large, we do not have a large amount of turnover. >> i think it's important to know your competition. just to understand what innovations are out there. my wife hates going out to the bar or dinner with me because i'm so hyper critical of what's going on. i compare it to what we're doing. i like to see what people are doing, whether it's interesting
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cocktails. about ten years ago this gastropub was the big thing. what i realize is people want to be able to eat food in a different way than dining in a restaurant. we decided to incorporate menus into our bars which we never had to do before. it's become a big part of our business. people come up with interesting ideas that if we think it's what our customers want, yeah, we may copy it a little bit. >> saying thank you to me is such an important part of our business. i think people don't do it enough. i had an experience about ten years ago, i was out at a club with some friends and two days later in the mail i get a handwritten thank you note from our server saying dear scott, hope you had a great time the other night. i wanted to thank you for the gratuity that you left and any time you need anything, please feel free to call me. i was like, you know what, nobody does that anymore. we started to institute a plan where i said, i want to see thank you notes going out to people to tell them that you really recognize and appreciate their business and that's the way you're going to get them to
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come back. i want people to say thank you. not just to our customers. i want to thank our staff for working as hard as they do. i want to thank them for showing up when they don't feel like showing up, for putting a smile on their face when they don't feel like it and showing appreciation to your guests as well as your staff is something that makes me happy and i hope it makes them happy. it is time now to answer some of your business questions. let's get to this week's board of directors. scott bell ski was the founder of an online platforms for creatives to display their work. he's now vice president of community at adobe now. >> first round capital and we were together earlier this week when i hosted a panel for him at the new york's venture capital associations ingenuity conference. good to see you scott, and good to see you twice in one week. congratulations on all the
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changes in your company. >> thanks. let's get right to the first question. this is from an entrepreneur who needs advice about scaling his business. >> how do you get your business from fixed pace to a scaled larger business model? >> i'm going to start with you, scott. you certainly scaled a business. i don't think you were after at a fixed pace. >> no. we were always growing. it's about innovating and -- make sure you're scaling the right things. when you feel you have something and have the pricing down and know the product or service you're offering, it's about operation liesing. what you don't want to do at that point is scale to more services and more offerings. what you want to do is scale the things that actually work. so if there's one person who is doing the marketing and the finance and helping with product, that should at this point be three people focused on each of those things specifically.
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i think the mistake we often make is you try to operational eyes quickly and you try to scale to have multiple people doing multiple things. that's not going to get you far. >> how do you know that point when you start expanding your internal team to meet your external demand? >> i would think of it from a perspective, if you're a people business and service business, an unconventional way is to fire your customers. if you look at some of your worst customers, the ones taking up your time, they're not making your money, not worth the time of your good people, how do you focus on your best customers, give them the best service, create longer term engagements, higher price products that provide more value for both of you. >> it's hard to do. emotionally it's hard to say i don't want to work with you as a small business? >> very hard. i've never seen anyone regret it. it's always taken them to a new
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level. >> finally, this question about trying to keep your business fresh. >> as a 37-year-old organization, how do you continuously innovate the organization, not only as product but as people? >> it's a great question. in essence, if you do not have a culture of innovation and of change and excitement, the company is 37 years old, how do you suddenly create that? >> i think you have to -- a favorite quote of mine along these lines is from a general. he said if you dislike change, you'll dislike ir relevance even more. unless you're looking to sunset your business or shut it down when you're gone, you have to innovate, you have to bring in new blood, new ideas, new people and look at doing things in new ways. it's just the essence of what you have to do. >> we know we have to. but how do you do that in a big old company? >> i mean, you always have the new people who come in every now and then. it's fresh dna.
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usually they're told to be quiet and practice the norms that everyone else practices. if you're the leader and have the opportunity to empower those people, to ask questions and question the things, like why do we have a meeting every tuesday morning where nothing gets done? you can empower people to do that as the leader of a business. it goes -- it works wonders. the other thing you have to remind everyone and yourself, you should put yourself out of business before somebody else does. what i mean by that is, whatever product or service you offer, think about the best competitive offering would be to that and then do it yourself. >> yeah. and all of that comes from the top, right? if you bring in somebody new with fresh blood, you have to defer to them so everyone else sees they should defer to them or their ideas as well. >> otherwise they'll step in line. >> great. it's so good to see both of you guys. appreciate you coming on the program. >> thanks. if any of you out there have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to our website. business. hit the ask the show link to
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submit a question. if it's easier, e-mail us your questions and comments too. the address is your one way to communicate a large sum of data and information is to create an info graphic. you can use them to compare products, map sales or to simply entertain your customers. if you are looking for a simple and freeway to get started, check out our website of the week. info gram is a free tool that provides pre-design layouts that you can customize. there are more than a dozen templates and you can insert text boxes, photos, maps and videos now. when you're finished, it can be instantly shared through social media or using the provided code. thank you so much for joining us today. i hope you learned something that helps you to run your small business better. if you want to catch anything you may have missed, just visit our website, it is
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you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with a lot more information to help you grow. you can find us on twitter @msnbc your biz. next week, it's time to get ready for small business saturday. this year it falls on november 30th. it's the saturday between black friday and cyber monday. we'll tell you what you can do to get customers in your community to bypass the big box stores and shop local. until then, i'm jj ramberg and remember, we make your business our business. building animatronics is all about getting things to work together. the timing, the actions, the reactions. everything has to synch up.
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my expenses are no different. receiptmatch on the business gold rewards card synchronizes your business expenses. just shoot your business card receipts and they're automatically matched up with the charges on your online statement. i'm john kaplan, and i'm a member of a synchronized world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. happy friday. i should tell you right now there is not a cocktail moment on tonight's show. if you want to hit pause and go get a drink right now, i would understand though. because ted cruz is in iowa and that violates the rule from bans all reasonable people from talking about the 2016 presidential race. we try to never violate it. and there's good reason not to. the last presidential race was less than a year ago. there's another really big nationwide election that has to happen between now and the next presidential race. nobody is allowed to talk about 2016. it is against the rules, but ted


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