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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  January 3, 2015 2:30am-3:01am PST

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>> the opportunities are tremendous but the risks are huge. find out about the green rush taking place in colorado and many taking advantage of the state's legalization of pot. that's coming up next on "your business." >> small businesses are revitalizing the economy. and american express 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 j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." what was once unthinkable has become a reality and a very profitable one at that. the legal marijuana movement is gaining traction with the editorial board of "the new york times" recently advocating it nationwide. for entrepreneurs the opportunity to cash in on a new and evolving industry is hard to resist as states like colorado and washington normalize the market regulating marijuana similar to alcohol. but for anyone interested in getting into the business, the stakes are high. this is no longer a world inhabited by stoners working with tie-dye taking bong hits.
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this is a very serious business that requires a lot of time, a lot of money, and smarts to succeed. >> this business is pretty much an emerging market. it's high risk, high reward. >> this is a story about change. changing laws, changing attitudes, and an ever-changing landscape for brand-new business in america. marijuana. >> it's a very young industry chock full of entrepreneurs from all over the country that want to build their lives and careers and their businesses in marijuana. >> we went to colorado the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use to see how entrepreneurs are fairing in this brave new world. >> it's brand-new industry
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emerging out of black market scenario. regulation helps streamline the system and puts all of the pieces in place for us to maneuver through this safely and also allows the consumer to get a safe, sound product as well. >> the product is pot and under federal law selling, producing, possessing and consuming marijuana is still a crime. that makes for a very complicated business model when you live under the constant threat of a federal crackdown. >> the cannabis industry is the most challenging industry i've ever been involved with. i describe it as crisis management by hour. >> tripp has a widely varied resume including a stint in the reagan administration. he's a serial entrepreneur who has been called the ronald reagan of reefer. >> i've been in this business for four years. it feels like dog years. this is not for individuals that are not willing to commit an incredible amount of time, money and intellectual horsepower. >> after spending some time in colorado we found the entrepreneurs in this business were nothing like the stereotypical contraculture
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hippies we see in the late-night punch lines. >> tonight we'll look at the pros and cons of owning a pot store. a pro, getting a lot of repeat customers. con, mostly because they forgot they were just into your store five minutes ago. i think i need some weed, man. check your right pocket. yeah, thanks. >> we visited the first ever colorado cannabis summit in denver and found a very profession group of entrepreneurs. many of whom were women networking and coming together to talk seriously about cannabis. >> we like to think of ourselves as marijuana mavens. >> brooke was working in commercial banking and real estate before taking that leap of faith and getting involved in the cannabis business in 2009. >> there are a lot of educated people that had left their jobs in corporate america or left other business ventures that they had successes in because they saw or felt a sense of
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opportunity. >> meg collins saw an opportunity in pot. in her case, to help shape public policy. before taking the job as the executive director of the cannabis business alliance, she spent most of her career in the oil and gas industry. >> i like to say i've gone from gas to grass and i thought what a phenomenal opportunity to be on the ground floor of building the legal and regulatory framework for a new industry. >> and this is an industry that has a lot of rules like the requirement to grow and sell your own cannabis instead of sourcing it from somewhere else. i met jan, a former spa owner and mother of two who decided she wanted to take her experience in that industry and translate it to the emerging cannabis business. we met her at one of her seven grow facilities outside of boulder. i hear this term "seed to sale" quite a bit. can you explain to me what that means? >> the state of colorado would like us to track every plant from seed to sale. and so from every plant that we put into dirt to every plant that we harvest and turn into
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medicinal or recreational bud needs to be tracked. >> there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes with this industry it sounds like. it's not just a matter of putting seeds into the ground, growing it and selling it. >> no. >> we then followed her to the brick-and-mortar side of her business called the farm. this is not what i expected. this is not what a lot of other cannabis stores refer to. >> we've been referred to as the whole foods of cannabis because we appeal to a customer that cares about what they are putting into their bodies. >> you are going after upscale moms basically? >> yeah. people like us. >> but the biggest issues that jan and other company owners in the cannabis industry are facing now have to do with all of the money coming into their businesses. >> banking is a huge issue for the industry nationwide. because it is illegal at the
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federal level, banks are not comfortable in jeopardizing their federal insurance. we're treated like every other business except when it comes to financial matters, and then we're still treated as a criminal function. >> with big issues like banking that still need to be sorted out, states like colorado and washington are taking the lead on setting policy while other states and the federal government sit back and watch very closely to see how their implementation works. >> i really think all eyes of the world are on our state, really focusing on how this is going to happen. >> as more and more states legal wise pot in some way, shape, or form it's clear that there is a major shift in attitudes happening in the u.s. with a recent poll showing 54% of americans in favor of legalization.happening in the u.s. with a recent poll showing 54% of americans in favor of
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legalization. if the tide keeps moving in that direction, the marijuana market is going to increase. >> entrepreneurs from across the country are coming here. it's the green rush 2.0. this is pike's peak or bust 21st century style. >> casey stark has had several businesses related to cannabis in colorado. he also teaches a cannabis 101 to people interested in learning more about the business. so they can be called on tell pre nears. >> leasing, zoning, packaging, tracking, seed to sale, it's complicated. you can come to colorado and learn rules and change your future. >> as the legalization of pot comes online in more places, there are also serious concerns about new and potent strains of marijuana and the new breed of edibles that are highly concentrated. >> what happened here on the fourth floor of this denver hotel has both investigators and medical experts asking questions. the group decided to try marijuana cookies. the death was listed as an accident.
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>> in the last two months the state of colorado has dealt with two significant tragedies where it appears that marijuana in one form was involved. i will say that dixie was quick to stand in front of the camera and get in front of the issue and make sure consumers understand that these products have to be consumed in moderation. >> with the industry still in its infancy, it's a future that is totally uncharted, speculative, and at the same time potentially very lucrative with one study predicting a billion-dollar-a-year industry by 2018. >> i'm delusionally confident. i believe that companies will compete with big alcohol and big tobacco. >> there's no end to what marijuana potentially could do for the american economy. what has it done for us in colorado? raised millions. created tens of thousands of jobs. almost literally overnight. >> as you can see, it's not
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aging hips hippies who are becoming potpreneurs. let's get our board of directors to weigh in on this. brendan kennedy is president and ceo of a firm that invests in the cannabis industry and also the president of a company that helps consumers and patients learn about different cannabis strains and products. ted is the chairman and ceo of another company. it's so great to see all of you guys. >> thanks for having us. >> thanks j.j. >> thank you. >> brendan you're in the center of this right now. when i was there, it's fascinating to see this unfold because the regulations are changing every single day. so it's incredibly hard to be a business owner in this industry. >> it is. the regulations in colorado are changing on a daily, weekly basis.
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it's one of the things that they're doing really well there. they're constantly refining the regulations to keep tight control over the industry as it transforms from an area of prohibition to a legal market. >> but as a business owner, it's so hard, right? some of the people we talked to said this was legal yesterday and it's not legal today. i have to change my logo. i have to move this. change my packaging. how do you keep on top of everything that's happening? >> well, so we have an internal legal team and external legal team and we have people focused on lobbying and staying in contact with the regulatory boards to ensure that everything we do complies with local and federal regulations. >> what do you say to people who want to jump into this industry? >> in some ways it's exciting. i'm a entrepreneur as well as a lawyer. this is the ultimate entrepreneurial experiment. entrepreneurs love to be nimble and they love to have to react
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quickly, so it's right for innovation, which is exciting but as you're saying there are some pitfalls just as a business opener. going into business with somebody is like a marriage. you have to make sure that you are aligned in lots of different ways in order to have a good working relationship. so that's a huge one. obviously negotiating good business terms and buyout provisions, all of those types of things is critical to the success of any business like that. as you're saying, it's all moving so quickly that a lot of these people don't have time to consider the issues that they should be considering before they go into business together. >> the whole thing is fascinating. fascinating to see what's happening and again how things are changing every single day. and attitudes are changing. >> so j.j. the way i look at it, there's a phenomenal opportunity going on here. it's the gold rush turned green. there are lots of regulations. it will be a difficult business. that's where the opportunity is because there aren't that many
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companies that are supplying the product. great pricing power. lots of cash. lots of profits. that's why this is a business everybody is now talking about. everybody is rushing out there to get into it. >> brendan, it's still very young. this is brand-new industry. have you seen already some breakouts who will be successful and a bunch of people shut down already? >> what we're seeing are the establishment of brands and that will be the big difference over the next five to ten years. for the first time you'll see trusted professional brands in this industry. >> are you starting to see some breakouts already? >> i think as you covered in your segment, dixie is one that is really interesting in that they are talking about cannabis in a mainstream professional way, and that's really how americans think about this product. 54% of americans believe it should be legal. it's a product. >> that's what we saw over and
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over again. it's a mainstream business. people are treating this as a business. there are late-night jokes about it but it's a business. the people that we're seeing are very successful and they are working very closely with regulators and talking to the lawmakers every single day. >> right. j.j., it's important to treat this as a sophisticated business. if you're not a sophisticated business owner, but you happen to be fortunate enough to be in this business, you have to align yourself with business partners. it doesn't mean you can't work with angel investors are people like brendan. after the show i want to get in touch with brendan and maybe invest with him. >> that brings up some interesting issues. it's not clear cut. we have a conflict of laws between the federal statutes and what's happening in the states right now and so as a business owner, this is not for the feign of heart. you don't know how the federal government is going to come out on this. the controlled substances act is unequivocal as far as this is a class 1 drug which is interesting that it is. that's not changing. we don't see that changing any time soon. maybe it will. >> the banking issues.
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>> yeah. >> i mean brendan, you must hear about this the most. the banking issues are so incredibly complicated. it's cash business, a lot of these people. >> it is. >> i've been in dispensaries. i've been in rooms that had $1 million of cash lying around. it's not a comfortable feeling. we don't violate any local, state or federal laws yet we've been kicked out of three banks in the u.s. so everything in this industry is harder whether it's banking or payroll or hiring a marketing and branding firm. everything is more difficult. >> but, boy, might there be a big payoff at the end for people. >> brendan made the point he's sitting with a million dollars of cash that obviously came from profit. it's not a bad problem to have. >> there's security issues too. it's infinitely interesting to see how this industry grows. thank you for chatting about it. like this burgeoning marijuana industry breweries
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are also lobbying lawmakers to ease laws to make it easier for them to operate. one minnesota brewer is now getting ready to open a second brewery after fighting hard two years ago to get the law in that state changed. >> there was a pretty small change, but it's still a big piece of legislation that's made it a big difference for us. it's good for the state. it's good for business. it's good for minnasotans, so why wouldn't we want to do it. >> omar, the founder of a brewery in minnesota, has plans in mind for expanding his business. >> we never thought we would experience this type of success. it's been fantastic. >> the beer is so popular there's a waiting list for new customers. with so much demand, omar had to focus on increasing his supply. he decided to open a second location. simple, right? well, not in this case.
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because of this decision omar had to become the driving force behind a change in state law. >> minnesota is one of those states where you could not sell someone a glass of beer at a production brewery. >> in other words, he could sell beer in bars restaurants, and liquor stores, but that was about it. >> when someone comes in for a tour, we give them beer. that's all free. so it's not legal for us to charge them for that glass of beer. in some states you can do that. some states you can't. >> the second brewery omar wants to build would have a restaurant and a bar. he wants to sell his own product and that's what put him on a collision course with the law. >> if we can somehow manage to change this law that breweries could sell a glass of beer then we're not just building a bigger beer. we're building a december station. >> omar enlisted the expertise of clint roberts of the company one simple plan. >> i realized what he wanted to do and realized it was a 78-year-old prohibition law and
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said this isn't going to happen in two weeks. >> despite some support, omar felt some resistance from the start. >> there are a lot of people that didn't want to see that challenge happen. just -- that's the way politics work. when laws are there, there's someone that wants to keep them that way. >> that's why he had to prove that his campaign wasn't just about selling pints of beer. >> we made it more about small business, big idea, free market, this guy wants to grow his business, why is anybody standing in his way let alone the government? >> omar argued that he wouldn't be the only brewery to benefit. his message was focused. hundreds of jobs could be created with a minor legal change. >> it kind of became a jobs bill. we have a lot of opportunities to do some stuff here and let's do it here as opposed to another state. >> state representative jennifer loon was a sponsor of the bill.
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>> state representative was a sponsor of the bill. she believed it was an opportunity to give the local economy a boost. >> what he was seeking was a minor change in my opinion to our liquor statutes in the state of minnesota. >> representative loon said the law put small businesses at a disadvantage. >> that's how most businesses start, with somebody and an idea. we need to make sure we're not putting road blocks in their way. we're here to provide opportunities and create jobs. >> omar and his team took their plight public. >> the fight had to be taken outside of the capitol doors and really the people were going to have to kind of help us out and support us. >> fans of surly brewing were mobilized and they quickly took action. facebook and twitter turned into base camps of information for surly supporters as the surly team spent hours making its case. >> it was a way to rally our troops but bring everybody together saying this is what they're saying, this is what it means to the project and what we need to know for the next step.
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>> the support for surly nation never wavered. >> people started to take more serious surly nation and how much of a hot button issue this was. it was about small business. it was about beer. and it was about the evolution of a company. >> legislators took notice and a process that could take years turned into just months with overwhelming support in the minnesota house and senate, the surly bill became law in may 2011. the result? >> breweries can sell beer that we make here at this facility in a tap room so only our own beer. they say the fight was worth it because it opened the door to growth for everyone. >> we'll see other breweries open up with this law changing and it's going to make the beer scene a better and better place. >> when we return, we'll have some important advice to help you run your small business including how to keep tabs on the competition and how entrepreneurs can stay focused in a world of smartphones and technological overload.
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if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner. we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does.
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i want people to own up to their potential. i'm here to serve this community and the guests here. >> want to keep an eye on your competition? much of the information you need is publicly available and accessible. so here now are five ways to ethically spy on your rivals courtesy of one, look at what key words they're using. you should be able to see them listed in the source code of your competitor's home page. two, examine their load time. you can use google page speed insights to see how well your competitor site performs compared to your own. three, discover their most popular pages by doing a free search on four do a twitter search. you can see who's mentioning them and what they're talking about. and, five keep tabs on what
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website changes they're making. your competitor may be updating their website to maximize conversions. you can use the free service wayback machine to see exactly what their site looked like on any given date. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. ted and jessica are back with us. the first one is about shutting down your business. >> i'm looking for a potential out-of-the-box solution to liquidate our business and transition it so that the employees and the clients continue to be well taken care of. >> so how does she find a buyer? that sounds like she wants to do. >> that's great question. that sounds complicated. you want to sell your business while staying in control. how do you do that? >> private firms, even warren buffett will let you keep 20% of the business. they want you to stay and manage
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it. it becomes a winn win/win. she gets to cash out while managing the business. >> can you define that? >> if you're a fast-growing firm sure, there's going to be a financial business looking for it. >> it was a tough question. when i thought about her question it's not really liquidate. it's acquisition. it's about finding a lawyer. once you sell it you don't have any control anymore. you're not going to have any say about what happens to anyone in your company including your employees so it comes down to negotiating. it's not out of the box but something that can't be ignored. it's a critical thing, especially for a small business that doesn't have access to a big market. >> and finding a buyer. >> exactly. >> spoken like a true attorney to hire an attorney. excellent advice. >> let's move up to the next
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question. it's about trying to stay focused. >> we live in this world where our phones are beeping, vibrating, everything is going off, and we're constantly being distracted. what's a good tool you can let me know and all the other entrepreneurs can know to keep us completely focused on what we're working on. >> there's a lot of things. only answer your e-mails at certain times, turn off your e-mail alerts. do any of them work for you? >> i do a time-blocking technique where i actually dedicate certain days of the week to certain activities to certain parts of the day. it's very hard. i always check my e-mail and get texted. it's philosophical for me. i focus on trying to be very present in whatever it is i'm doing. i try to give myself full attention even if i'm only giving myself 15 minutes to half an hour to work on it. i try to be fully present. it's like raising kids. you want to be fully present when you're in the room with them. so for me that technique works.
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by blocking my calendar i can be sure things that need attention are going to get attention during the week. >> you can't go back in time. smartphones are only getting smarter. look. i'm a ceo receiving hundreds of e-mails a day. i'm taping the show. i don't have my cell phone for the hour. >> that's because we won't let you. what if you're in a meeting? >> the truth of the matter i try to put it down. if a seller is doings business with me and his phone goes off, i'm not doing business with. no matter how important the call is they can wait 30 minute. i don't want to wait 24 hours to get a response from but 30 or 60 minutes, not a big deal. put your phone down. take breaks. >> i find frankly the real issue for me is less is work and more is pirnl time. then i have to be disciplined about put this away. >> the big struggle is family at dinnertime and i have my kids sitting there with their phones
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and we can't have a conversation. >> no phones aet the table. >> that's right. try to enforce it. >> my kids are little so i've still got control. finally we have a question about getting a lawyer. >> for a business that specializes in intellectual prop it and writing online for ourselves and our clients, how important is it for us to retain legal council on an ongoing basis? >> i'm going to start with you on this. >> jessica's going to be happy to hear me say this. you never want to cut corners when it comes to legal fees, but what you can do and this has worked effectively for me is i will hire an attorney from a lawmakerlaw firm for me. it's called sa kunldment. the law firm likes it because their young attorneys get good corporate experience. we work on expenses while getting top legal advice. >> for people who don't have the
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budget for it firms provide flat fee services. my company has done it for a number of years. it's possible to get legal representation in a way that's predictable and isn't too scary or intimidating. i want to say in response to it. it geesd to have good legal representation as early as you can afford to have it. honestly if you can't afford to have a lawyer you're risking way too much. there's too much to be concerned about. particularly intellectual property. if that's their business protecting their intellect eye property is important. >> thank you. it's so great to have you guys. >> thank you. >> thank you for joining us today. if you want to learn more about today's show you can follow us on twitter.
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we're on facebook and instagram as well. coming up next week the "your business main street" series marks the 4r5th anniversary of the famous woodstock music festival by visiting the main street in woodstock. >> it's the only place you can name peace, love and cupcakes. >> find out how the '60s has left its mark on business owners in this small town in rural new york state. until then i'm j.j. ramberg and remember we make your business our business. if i can impart one lesson to a new business owner, it would be one thing i've learned is my philosophy is real simple american express open forum is an on-line community, that helps our members connect and share ideas to make smart business decisions. if you mess up, fess up. be your partners best partner.
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we built it for our members, but it's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. women in charge. let's play "hardball." ♪ ♪ i'm chris matthews in washington. and in this holiday season, we're happy to give you this special edition of "hardball." there are a remarkable number of tv dramas set in washington these days or with political themes that star bold, powerful, sometimes ruthless women, and yes, i'm a fan of most of them. these characters are fictional. and have district foibles, but they are clearly the stars of the holiday season. what story is it hollywood writing?


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