tv Your Business MSNBC November 21, 2010 7:30am-8:00am EST
hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." with the economic bubble burst, many people lost their jobs and were left to figure out what to do next. with time on their hands, a recipe in mind, two women from north carolina managed to turn their luck around. they decided to make pickles and sell them. now, it's a year later and they're on the verge of becoming a national brand.
>> this is where i grew up. put it right there, baby. thank you. this is what i call home. nice. good work, guys. we grow our own cucumbers and we pick our own cucumbers and we wash them. then we hand pack then and hand cut them. we produce all natural, no preservative pickles. >> jenny fulton, of north carolina, has a company called miss jenny's pickles. but she hasn't always made her living making pickles. this marks her second year as a small business owner. >> i was in the financial industry for about 18 years. i was a series seven stockbroker and i managed millions of dollars and the market tanked.
>> our office went from four brokers to zero brokers. >> ashley worked at the same firm for seven years until last spring and that's when they boss told them separately they would be laid off. >> i was devastated. it hurts your feelings, you know? >> our first thought was we were going to go into business together. we decided when our jobs went sour, we would make pickles. i had never made a pickle before in my life. i'm a city girl. i had never canned or made anything. >> but miss jenny had. she cultivated the cucumbers and cured them using her grandmother's recipe. actually, my husband said you make a distinctive, unique pickle. you should share it. and so do something with it and he said, you have land at
mamaws's and i was like, yeah, you're right. how did these two go from one family recipe and two pink slips to a full blown business with about five employees? >> okay. to be honest with you, i had never written a business plan. so she went to the library and checked out 13 books on how to write business plans for dummies. so technically, i have a halfway business plan right now. because what happened, we took off. >> if you press them about starting up, though, the first thing they say is they recognize how well they worked together. >> ashley is my partner, i'll tell you. we are like a left hand and a right hahn. >> they made that relationship the foundation of their business. >> we're very opposite, but very good friends. >> i'm the strigz person. ashley is the details. i drive. i'm the gas. she's the brake. so in a nutshell, she's my friend and she's my partner and i couldn't do this without her. >> they took the risk with their own modest savings. >> it was a big leap of faith.
and to be honest with you, we've added a lot of money, but our initial investment was $2,500 apiece, kind of sort of. so less than $10,000. our initial. >> they also drummed up plenty of free labor. >> we had a lot of friends and family step in to where we didn't pay people. they volunteered to help us. you know, they cut cucumbers for hours, you know? so that's how we got started. >> that's not all. they persuaded the local ymca to let them use their commercial kitchen. with that in place, they then took a class on safety precautions for manufacturing acidfided foods, pickle school. >> we went to pickle school because your ph levels have to be correct, there could be bacteria growth. you know, i was terrified because, you know, we want to do it right. you either do it right or you don't do it at all, okay, so we did a lot of research. >> and it was a tough, four-day
food science class, but jenny and i went through it together. >> and then came the selling. miss jenny says you can't be shy. >> well, no, i'm not going to be, you know, a pet. but i'm not going to go away because, you know, just because somebody tells you no, at that time, that timing wasn't right. you can circle back around in two weeks to a month. timing is right because they're probably looking for you at that point you about didn't know it. sometimes you have to show people, you really do need us, you know? so today i got an e-mail from dan deluca for a purchase order. >> really? >> yes. it brought tears to my eyes. >> maggie, for a gourmet shot in deluca, was one of their first national customers. >> this is awesome. >> that's incredible. >> she says it took way more than just passion to sell the pickles. >> quality has to be number one. you have to balance that quality with your passion and your ability to bring the product to
market. you're going to have to take some big risks and some big gambles. you know, we put salt and pepper on everything we eat as americans. but nobody created a salt and pepper pickle, but miss jenny's did. failure is not an option. >> in the current economic climate, many people who find themselves unemployed are looking to start up small businesses. let's turn to this week's board of directors. marjorie perry is the ceo of construction management and paul lewis is a serious entrepreneur who has founded five companies now? >> you got it. >> we're sticking with five right now. great to see both of you guys. >> thank you. thank you. >> so we talk all the time on this show about pretty good business plans and forecasting your financials and then something like this comes where she likes pickles, she started making pickles and now she has a business. did you create business plans?
>> you know what? this is the american dream based on opportunity, based on something that they were passionate about and they went for it. and you know what? i don't really put a lot of weight into going out and doing the business plan. i think some businesses, some industries require that. >> or if you're looking for money. >> yeah, if you're looking for money. but they jumped in with both feet and they're having a good time, they're making money and they're growing the business. >> same thing. most people do not start a business with a business plan. if you're in high tech or something of that sort where you are to go out of the gate to get large, large sums of money, they don't start with a business plan. >> we've done a few pieces like this. and everyone has this incredibly over the top passionate kind of a character. miss jenny is a character. and the ones who succeed have that as their founder. is that what you need? >> you have to have that kind of passion. you know what? no is not an option. i will succeed. now, let me just do what i do. everybody backs me up and i'll make it happen. that was her attitude.
best lesson learned, pay attention to the passion. >> and she carries that passion. >> and she carries that passion. >> that's the important thing. a lot of people will have that passion when they come up with the idea and they go to bed thinking about their idea and they wake up in the morning and they're not passionate about it any more. >> that is such a good point. if you tell yourself something over and over and over again, you get excited and then you're sick of it yourself. how do you stop that? >> it's not to say they doesn't have those moments. but she says, a lot of people are counting on me. right now, i need to get up and get my joy again and keep going. we didn't get into walmarts, how do we get into targets? that's big picture thinking and that's what she demonstrated very well. >> the highs are very high. we get this purchase order from dean and deluca. you see the excitement. they're jittery. they can't stop the excitement. that's one of the great things to have your own business. you get to feel those things. >> and when you're up at 4:00 in
the morning how are you going to make payroll? but the highs are high. thank you very much, you guys. >> looking for investors? well, some industries attract them more than others. here now are the five industries that received the most vc money in the third quarter, courtesy of price water house cooper's and the national venture association's money tree report. number five, industrial and energy related technology. product and services in this industry are in high demand as companies look for new, efficient technologies. number four, i.t. services. hardware repair, software design and software consulting are all very popular. three, medical devices and equipment. an aging population has made innovations in diagnostic equipment highly valuable. biotechnology came in second with a high priority on pharmaceutical innovation. and software continues to be the hottest industry for venture
capitalists. still to come, it's being called small business saturday. consumers are being urged to spend locally by doing their holiday shopping with small business owners in their community. and every day is sunday for ben & jerry's. jerry greenfield gives us his perspective on what drove that company's sweet success. [trumpet playing "reveille" throughout] let's support the small business owners getting our economy booming with the first ever small business saturday. on november 27th, shop small. it's going to be huge. [trumpet playing "reveille" fades to silence]
big re tailors have black friday. online merchants have cyber monday. for the first time, you can support main street by shopping on small business saturday. it's an effort to get holiday shoppers to go local and support their xhoount community small businesses. the campaign is spearheaded by american express, which sponsors this show and has the support of government figures in many cities, including new york's mayor michael bloomberg. >> small businesses as we keep saying and as i'm sure you all know really are the backbone of our economy and the glooe glue that continues to hold our communities together. they provide the goods, services and jobs that new yorker's need and when wall street went into free fall two years ago, it was the main streets of our five
burrows that took a beating, as well. >> susan sovett is president of american express open and kim nancy is the ceo of the score association. great to see you. >> wonderful to be here. >> tell me how you came up with this idea. >> american express has been serving small businesses for many decades and certainly the recession, no one has been left unscathed, but small businesses have born more than their fair share of the difficulties associated with this recession. >> it's such a great idea. i know that every online company out there does something for cyber monday. cyber monday deals, and they use this marketing that somebody else has created and now small businesses can do that for themselves. >> absolutely. small business friday is between plaque friday and cyber monday and what it is is an opportunity to tell consumers stop and think before you shop. because if you can bring your business to a small, local independent business owner in your community, you're going to really be doing something for
your local economy and certainly the national economy. >> so what is a way for a small business to get that across quickly as somebody is walking by their store? >> well, a couple of things. one is they can download some of our promotional materials if they go on a facebook page, small business saturday, and look for the your bis tab. they'll be able to download some information. but importantly, they can get their customers or themselves to actually share on the facebook page about their business. and a lot of what's happening, we have hundreds of thousands of people who are liking small business saturday on facebook and really sharing wonderful experiences and stories about their favorite business. >> and i know this is not just about american express. it's about all small businesses in general. but you guys do. i want to say this because it's good, you're offering an incentive. >> there are two incentives. one is to card members. any american express card member who will register their card can get a $25 off offer on any
business purchase that they make on small business saturday. and i might also add that businesses will also be eligible for free facebook advertising if they go again on the facebook page. they'll be able to download and get free advertising credits that american express is offering. any merchant, you don't have to be an am ex merchant, you can be anyone in business. >> now that saturday from here on out, 2010 onward is going to be small business saturday, i presume. >> yeah. in fact, when we surveyed consumers, 99%, you never get a number like that when you survey consumers. 99% say they want to do something to support their local communities and businesses. >> sure. >> they know that's what keeps their town and where they live alive and thriving. >> exactly. and vibrant. thank you so much. it's great to see all of the support for small business and so we will continue this conversation, but small business saturday. >> absolutely. shop small, small business saturday. >> thank you.
ken nancy is the eo of the score organization. hi there, good to see you. >> j.j., always good to be with you. >> small business saturday, such a great name, right? >> it is a perfect name and it's a perfect time for something like this. as we talk through small businesses through our mentors around the country, we find that not only access to capital and debt, but they need customers and they need sales and they need the resulting cash flow in order to survive and thrive and grow and to add jobs and be a positive part of their community. so this opportunity through small business saturday on november 27th is to encourage individuals, consumers, to shop local and shop small business as they prepare for the holidays. and it's important for those communities. it does create vibrancy, it great good economic health and it's the right thing to do to support these businesses that are so critical to our economy. >> and i'm going to bring up,
again, something you just said, which is we hear this all the time, too, which is i don't need a loan, i don't need money, i just need people coming through the door. hopefully this will generate more foot traffic and more people buying from small business. >> that's what we're counting on. we're promoting it heavily through our website and our offices around the country using social media and appreciate your willingness to talk about it on the show. everybody get out there and shop small business, shop local and let's do what we can to get this economic situation turned around. >> let me play devil's advocate. i have 7 million presents to buy. i want to get something cheap. i know i can get it at a big store down the street. why at any time would i go to a small business when it's going to be more expensive for me? >> well, you know, when you look at that big list, j.j., there are some things that might not be your highest dollar items that are easy for you to purchase locally, often more convenient, parking easier,
crowds less. there's some good advantages to go and often going to that small business, you get so much better service often. particularly for speciality items where you can actually talk to somebody about the product and see it and understand what other customers are saying. that relationship selling is really terrific and it's valuable and it's something that many people are willing to pay 5% more for. and i would encourage them to do it. >> and besides that, i imagine that small businesses might be hopping on this on the way that online retailers do on cyber monday, get a great deal so they can get people to start buying things. >> that's what we certainly hope. they'll be working with their score mentors and others to come up with loss leaderes and good advertising and promotions that will bring people in and encourage them to invest those dollars in the community. it is a bit different when you shop with small business and the exact in the community is tremendous. >> all right. ken yancey, small business saturday, the saturday after thanksgiving, thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks, j.j.
it's hard to imagine a world without cherry garcea, chunky monkey or crunch. 30 years after opening their ice cream in a gas station, ben & jerry's has a creative approach to business. jerry greenfield talks to us about failure, giving things away and authentic marketing in today's learning from the pros. snow ♪ ♪ >> ben and i started because we were failing at everything we were trying to do. i was trying to get into medical school, never got in and dropped out of college on multiple occasions, tried to become a potter. nobody bought his pottery. and so we thought we would just do something with food, picked ice cream, took a $5 correspondence course from penn
state. we were really just looking for something interesting to do. we didn't think of ourselves as getting ready to go into business. we thought we would do it for a couple of years. we didn't make money for many, many years. we were an artistic success. we made great ice cream. people loved the shop. our sales increased our expenses increased every year, and we were pretty much breaking even. what started to happen for the company is we started to make more unusual flavors. flavors with big chunks of cookies and candies. we started with distribution, packaging into pints. people look at it and think of it as an overnight success, but it was not overnight at all. free cone day was a very easy thing to do. the idea came about during that first winter when business was really slow, and ben and i jokingly said to each other, boy, if we're still open at the end of the year, we'll celebrate
by giving out free ice cream to everyone. not thinking it was going to happen. but the idea was to thank our customers for supporting us. when you talk about ice cream marketing and some of the unusual things we did, i think a lot of it comes out of us being regular guys, people that didn't have a business education or a business background. the marketing of ben & jerry's was simply communicating in an honest and authentic way what the company was. so we wanted to have an anti-corporation company. we wanted it to be anti-authoritarian. we warted to fight the establishment, be involved in political issues, we wanted to do things in a fun way, give away ice cream. we wanted to bring about a certain kind of world. if you happened to believe this
that kind of world and happened to like the ice cream, partner was. we're not selling you a product. we want to partner with people to work on the issues together. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. marjorie and paul are with us once again. the first question is from freddy and he writes, i have a company that isn't growing fast, but it's a steady, good company. i need about $100,000. where do i go to get that? typical investors that i've spoken to are looking for investments in high-growth companies. i think that's aed good question. where do you find somebody who's willing to not get a huge return? >> you know they just have a new program that just, just came out. that's someplace he might be able to look at. the main thing is make sure he has collateral. everything is personal credit. if he can't do that, he's going to have to get together four, five, six friends and maybe they
can put up $10,000 apiece. credit score is the key. if you can't get it from the bank you have to be real creative by looking at outside investment plans. >> what's real important is why does he need $100,000 and what is it for? is it to expand the business or buy new equipment or serve as debt? maybe there's a formula that's not accurate. >> that's key if he's losing money. for instance, there might be a design store or something that knees store. it's not the internet start-up that's going to attract angel money, necessarily frrks the angel network because they want big returns. it's a good business. they say they're growing steadily. >> they're growing and profitable and they want to use the money to expand and make revenue, then they can go to an angel. it makes sense. they have a good story. if they're losing money, their revenues are there but they're not profitable -- >> right. until you see that and know what
they're doing it's thoord direct them. but in the meantime there's some programs out there including economic development programs in your community that will provide loans for short term that are available for them. >> okay. great. let's move onto the next one. this is a e question about opening the lines of communication with another company. >> when you have a great idea with a small business that would partner well with larger businesses, how do you get to them who you would partner with who would actually make the decision to help you help them? >> we get this question a lot in a lot of different forms. you know why it's such a good question? not only how to get the person to answer the phone for you. but if you go to bag company -- this just happened to me -- sometimes you can't find the person who's in charge of wh whatever it is you want to talk to. the company is so big he doesn't know who's in charge of it. >> what you do is how your idea is going to impact the big business.
unfortunately they're going to want to hear your idea and how it will make a huge impact on their business. it really has to have an effect on the big business as well. >> i want to talk about drilling down a little bit. why not find out what those decision-makers like and do. there e there's charity events, there's another level of marketing that you're not doing. where you need to be and build relationships so you can get your idea in front of them eventually. so they'll have a covert attitude of going in but go in real clear that, listen, he likes golf outings and this is a big deal for him to raise $100,000. you may not be able to do it. maybe you get six or seven people and you make a budget. i tell you what. that's where they are. they're going to get up, get plaques, hey, how are you doing. >> important, perseverance. perseverance, perseverance, perseverance. you call that person 400 times
until they pick up the phone. eventually they're going to pick up your phone and take your call so you don't call anymore and that's when you're going to have your opportunity. >> let's move only the next one. this is from a small business owner who's stuck in the middle of a big city construction project and is afraid of losing business. >> is there any way you can get a mention across to the local, state, and central government that at my street they're going to build a subway tunnel and for the next two and a half, three years the place is going to be almost blocked off? >> i think this is such an interesting question in general. what do you do? i mean i'm going ask you because you're in construction. if you about to block off a whole street, what do the small businesses do? >> they need to looket how to innovate differently. they may need to take their project online. they need to absolutely think outside of the box. where else can i have my ideas at the time we're doing it. now, those two things gives them
an opportunity to expand that they didn't think about, and, three, when it's time to come back to this area they're thriving and prospering during this time it. >> seems a bit unfair. do cities in general give any type of compensation? >> it depends on what your business is. there is funding available through the economic authority so they need to come to the community meetings to hear what they have to offer so they can be ahead of the game versus letting that particular project take their business down. >> got it. >> it's sad and it's unfortunate but you cannot stop the wheels of progress. growing up there was a diern that was on a two-lane road that was packed all the time. they expanded the road and there was a barrier. now you couldn't make a left into the diern. they went out of business just because of that. location, location, location. move the business or go virtual. go online. but if he stays where he is, he's in trouble unfortunately. >> thanks so much for all of your advice. i really appreciate it.
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your business grow. don't forget to become a fan on facebook. and if you'd like, you can also follow us on twitter. it's@msnbcyo it's@msnbcyourbiz. a father and son go into business together and they have to deal with their differences. >> i think something outside of the box will mend anything that might happen between the two of us because we have a different approach to matters. >> why it's important to have an objective board of advisers to help referee and guide business partners. till then, i'm j.j. ramberg, and, remember, we make your business our business. [trumpet playing "reveille" throughout]