tv Your Business MSNBC October 16, 2010 5:30am-6:00am EDT
hi, there, everyone. i'm jj ramberg. welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advise to help your business grow. today we along at a business that has put a lot of thought into employee fulfillment. with a dual mission with a haven fur autism and community life, words bookstore managed to craft jobs for their every day staffers as well as kids with autism working in the stores vocational training program. they are making employee empowerment work chapter and verse. in the quiet new york city
suburb of maplewood, new jersey, another independent bookstore almost disappeared. that was until joan in and emily came to the rescue, even though they knew nothing about the book business. >> we bought a staffer, the good will of the store and staff came with us. >> when jonah came he didn't have a bookstore background, so he was depending on us to be able to help him out with that. >> with the change in opener ship came a change in management style. the former bookstore owner was hands-on doing most of the work of the store herself. >> it wasn't that much for anybody else to do, and we all kind of just came in and worked our shift and that was that. with jonah it is definitely more -- there's more of a hierarchy. >> a recent graduate of business school, jonah was very interested in job crafting to better utilize talents of his staff. >> it is changing the jobs of
the people rather than to change the people for the jobs. that can't work 100%. sometimes we have to buckle down and do things we don't like, but as much as possible i think it is in everyone's interest if people are doing what they are good at and what they like. >> with an experienced staff already in place, he worked with each of them to determine their likes and dislikes and did his best to play to their strengths. >> he spent a lot of time working with several of us that have been there for a period of time to figure out what our needs were and who was going to handle what responsibilities and who was comfortable doing what. and we sort of divvied up the jobs that way. >> so, for instance, trish does the ordering. and that's really her specialty. i do the scheduling, the tech stuff, things like that. and i do have a lot more responsibilities now than i did before. >> hi. hi. >> with the on raxs being run by
the staff, they had time to try something else near and dear to them. with a son diagnosed with autism, the family wanted to expand the mission of the store to be a welcoming environment for people with special needs. >> my son has house spectrum, so there's an understanding here, it is just very comforting to me. i feel at home when i come here. i don't feel awkward. if he should freak out or have an episode and start screaming or whatever he may do, i don't think anybody here is going to care. >> they also created a vocational training program where kids with special needs could develop skills they can use in every day life. >> the hardest thing in applying for jobs is not having any experience, it is particularly a problem for special needs, but for all of us we want to apply for jobs. and so my thought was if we can provide the first job or experience on a resumé so that people can leave us with real life job experience and a
recommendation for another job. >> i learned about teamwork and cooperation. i learned about organization. i learned a lot of good skills here. >> he's not going to be protected for the rest of his life, he can't be. he's not going to be able to function that way, nor would i want him to. so having this sort of a steppingstone or initiation to the real world is wonderful and invaluable to him. and to me as a parent. >> thank you, zach. thank you so much for coming. i appreciate it. >> the job crafting that is revisiti revisitized the place. >> i'm a lot more invested now, so when i -- i think, oh, geez, i forgot to do this and then first thing in the morning i come back and do that. >> it has worked terrifically well to be empowered to make decisions and to help them since they have been here since the
very beginning. they have a real ownership in the store and take pride in this place. this is their place. and they started it. >> it has also given people with autism a chance at a better life. >> the hiring of someone with special needs is a good business idea. sometimes they will do jobs that other people -- that it is hard to get a college graduate to stick with. they are good workers and show up any time of day, they are there and are on time. there's a role that you have that works for them. it is a win/win for everybody. >> see you, jonah. >> as we just saw, crafting the job to the strength of an employee can work wonders for morale. brian welly is co-founder of the people and invasion at google, jen gruber is a serial entrepreneur and author of the book "what if and why not." great to see all of you. i want to talk to you about all
this because google does the job crafting idea. how does it work? do you hire someone for a particular job but give them time to do something else? >> yes, job crafting is a new word. we had something called 20% time a long time ago. >> i remember that. >> when a company was just founded, and that's basically our commitment to give engineers 20% of their time to do a project they really care about. could be a product like the next gmail or something like finding a better way for people to park their cars so they don't spend ten minutes parking when they come to work. >> what about the idea of working with someone to change their job? >> yep, so that can happen too. in a couple of different ways, one is with the 20% time philosophy. gmail is an example that started as somebody's 20% time and consumes the energy of dozens of engineers to maintain. we have millions of people, you have seen it, right? and in other instances, my job could be a perfect example. i had the idea of people and invasion with a couple of my coworkers. so we actually proposed the
idea, put some time behind it and now it is 50%, 60% of my time because i love to do it. i've been able to show it is good for google. >> google is giving people a chance to innovate, but what about this idea of -- these people weren't necessarily innovating, they were just doing something different. that takes a lot of time working with your employees. >> i have been doing this all along with my own companies. and i didn't realize there was a title to it. but as an entrepreneurial company, you needs hands-on experiences, and it is really hard and stifling to a smaller company to isolate people and say this is your job and that's your job. but to allow people to integrate their responsibilities are, what i have found is the most challenging part of this is to separate how those things that people don't want to get done are going to get done. that's just about saying, here's a template of responsibility. these things need to get done. are we going to integrate together and share the responsibility or who is going to do it because those things that no one really wants to do
are the things that get left to the side and becomes a problem. >> that gets me thinking, obviously, it makes sense to work with your employees and work to their strengths. on the other hand, if people get too involved are you going to get a bunch of employees who say, i don't want to do this, i only want to do this and do the jobs that need to get done? >> you need to be the leader and have the final say if you are the owner or the boss, but that said, so many small businesses don't feel like they have time to work with their employees to craft their job. i think it gives you so much more time as a business owner at the end of the day because people are doing so much more. >> then a and they are invested. how has google codified this, not 20% time, but they work to figure out what you are best at? >> we've codified it in a couple ways. we have a very flexible workplace. and we define our jobs pretty loosely.
we don't have many levels of hierarchy so people can express themselves, and we encourage people to have good relationships with their managers who are expected to help craft their employees to craft their jobs, strengths and interests. >> a lot of managers have been doing this for a while. now there's a chapter in a book that could be written on job crafting. now it has a name. thank you so much, thank you, brian, for giving us the insight from a big company for small businesses. the success of any company depends on its employees, but how can business openers who nay not be able to offer the benefits packages of larger companies hold on to the best people? take a look at how one construction company's unique management style is boosting employee morale and developing loyalty in a hard-noised industry. the construction industry is a notoriously tough business for hanging on to employees.
>> i've heard them say they come in five minutes late one day and are sent home right there. >> you have a superintendent who drove around, got out and yield yelled, fired a guy and took off and that was it. they ruled with fear. >> with a turnover rate of more than 20%, loyalty between employers and workers is often nonexistent. and that means companies that end up spending valuable time and money training new hires. >> when you train a guy to do the job he's supposed to do, you want him sticking around, especially if he's good at it. you don't want to train a guy every six months. >> mark and ben launched rpd, a tacoma washington-based construction company six years ago. they believed they had a solution to the problem. >> we found that if we have people that are excited about what they do and get along with
coworkers and have a trust level with their coworkers, then they do good work, and, in fact, earn money. >> this is one of rpd's crews, a small group that works together on projects. today they are on a team-building retreat to develop communication skills and trust. >> that's something that is priceless, because when you get a team functioning and communicating, the sky is the limit. they can do anything above their potential. >> rpd works with linda zarella of lighthouse institute. >> you will see increased trust, people will enjoy their job more. when we enjoy or job more we do tend to give more in the process. >> i think you guys are relying a little too much on the rope and not enough on each other. >> the company has been able to cultivate leaders from within. >> outside of the team building they actually had us, the management, go to a leadership
class. >> seth was rpd's first employee six years ago. he's quickly moved up the ranks and is now a foreman in charge of overseeing a crew and all of their projects. >> we taught him management skills. he moved up in that. all of a sudden we have a dynamite manager who knows who we are and what we are about. >> you get more opportunity for advancement and you get this at a bigger company where they are willing to train you and work with you. >> there you go. you guys got it. >> the training sessions combined with hunting trips and retreats have been added expenses, but rpd says it is worth it in the long run. >> i want to help you realize in team dynamics, celebration will build energy and it will decrease frustration. >> i definitely faced back monotarly. when they are happy and having good communication and being able to get along together as a crew and function at an extremely high productivity, it is -- they pay it back in the way that they do their job.
>> your whole team needs to reside on the platform on the other side. >> their fi localcy of investing in people is working. in this france yent industry, rpd's turnout rate is below 5%. as the company continues to grow, employees say they are happy to be onboard. >> let's be honest, working on sewer is not glamorous, but if you can have fun while doing it i think you are a step ahead. >> twitter can be a great way to cost-effectively market your business, but if you're always on the run it can be tricky to manage your tweets. here are five handty twitter tools for people on the go courtesy of aolsmallbusiness.com. se, smic receives high marks for a straight interface to help you attract multiple accounts. tweetdeck is similar. it can track twitter, facebook and a variety of social media
accounts. if your tied to your blackberry, check out ubertwitter. this has gps functionality to show when fellow twitterers are in the area. if twitter is just one component of your social media strategy, check out hootsuite. in addition to twiting, this supports facebook and four square updates. and the official twitter of the iphone which used to be called tweeting provides simple navigation. still to come, where's the money? how the passage of the small business jobs bill can help you with your loan. karen mills tells us how. and today's elevator picture has a product to let you exercise and take off the pounds while on the go. we're part of nature, and as we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.
it's a selfish thing to want to protect nature. i never intended to be a businessman. we made the world's best climbing equipment out of here. we realized that putting in and taking out of all these pitons was causing damage to the rock. so, i made these little soft aluminum chalks that you just put in with your fingers. and i'm a dam buster. we've been working for years to take this dam out. the reservoir behind it is only 4 feet deep-- the water gets real warm, kills a lot of the life in the river. when you take out a dam, that's a real victory. i mean, a concrete victory so to speak! when i get an idea to do something, i like to take the first step. if that feels good, i take another step. to do good, you actually have to do something. no matter what you want to do, members project from american express can help you take the first step. vote, volunteer or donate at membersproject.com.
there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for small business owners who have had trouble getting loans. days after president obama signed the 30-day jobs business bill, many got approved. that raised future spa lending limits. karen mills is joining us to tell us where the money is. it is so good to see you, administrator. >> nice to see you, jj. >> tell us how this is going to free up money for small businesses. >> it has $12 billion in tax credits. as you've said, small businesses still have trouble getting access to capital. and we have been able to get $14 billion more to put out into the hand of small businesses. we have already started that with about 2,000 businesses that
were in the que. they got a billion worth of funding in the last week. so we are really acting on this and getting it out into small businesses hands. >> i've talked to a lot of bankers, and we have had this conversation, too. certainly there are banks out there who want higher guarantees that need more money to lend. there are other bankers saying, we are getting applicants and we have money, but we can't get these through because of regulatory issues or because we are just not seeing good enough applican applicants. how does this help them or does it? >> this does help them. we have small businesses all around the country that are growing, that do have the ability, maybe with a little help from our guarantees to get those bank loans, and to pay them back over time. they need the capital right now because they want to take the next order. we had a small business call us from southern california, and they said, finally, i can go to this stack of resumés on my desk. and i can go through because i
have to hire two more people who will be web designers. and they are going to have new jobs because the banks now have the funding to do the 90% guarantee. we had 2,000 of them in the que, and i'm really pleased we were able to clear this que of people who waited all summer for this bill to pass. and now they've got their money. >> and i talked to a lot of small business owners who say, perhaps getting money is an issue, but really the issue is getting customers right now. so i don't really need a bank loan, and i'm scared to get a loan from the bank because i don't know if i can pay it back. so what in this act is going to help those people? >> lots of small businesses need new markets. they want to export, but they don't know how. this gives us money and tools and advisers to help those small businesses get more orders from the export market. we also have a whole set of things around government contracting. we have $100 billion that we at the spa work with agencies and
the federal government to make sure it gets into the hand of small businesses. >> all right. administrator mills, thank you so much. we hope to see you soon. >> thank you so much. nice to be here. maybe you need exercise but don't have the time, today's elevator pitcher has a way of doing it that's a walk in the park. >> hi, i'm paw let. i'm co-founder of gym in a shoe. gym in a shoe is two patented resistant bands that clip on and off the eye let of any athletic shoe. so now workers can exercise biceps and trisheps. no more hand weights or pulses to carry around. clip off the bands, roll them up and put them in your purse or car. they are a great rehabilitation tool for women recovering from breast cancer surge. people who have diabetes, high blood pressure, even arthritis of the hands and fingers. we own patent registered
trademark at a website at gyminashoe.com. we are asking for a mall million in investment and 20% of the company. >> thank you, maureen. what are you going to do with the money? >> advertising and promotion. >> marketing. >> how did she do in the pitch? >> it was a great pitch. as a professional i see a need in demand for this. i also see an opportunity that maybe you haven't looked at yet beyond taking the money for advertising and marketing, you can also go to the different types of organizations, like you just said, diabetes is a huge foundation that you can go to and get them to buy into these products and partner with them. so maybe you'll needless capital if you just do some of those bigger bulk types of introductions into the industry. you can go to the infomercial route which is really important. >> before you start giving advice, did you think she gave you enough in the pitch to take another meeting? >> i do, absolutely, yes. >> what about you, maureen?
>> you really grabbed my attention, that's the key for any elevator pitch. walking in with that, i see what you're offering. and it is amazing. but that said, i think you want to be more specific about your target market. it could appeal to a lot of people, but i want to hear a little more about who you are really going after. it helps to say the market and how you are getting there and using the proceeds to get there. >> did she say enough to get you interested or needed that much more -- >> i'm definitely interested. >> well, fantastic. good job, thank you so much for coming on the program. good luck with your product. >> thank you, guys, for all your advice today. if you have a product or service and want feedback from the elevator pitch panel on your chances of getting interested investors, just send us an e-mail. the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. please include a short summary of what your company does, how much money you want to raise and what you intend to do with the money. somebody watching the show may be espressoed interested in helping you. it is time to answer some of
your business questions. jen and maureen are back with us again. the first one is about when to approach a venture capital firm. >> we are a very small company. we have significant revenues, but what is the right time for us to approach adventure capital firm, for example, if we wanted to take our company from an $80 million company to an $800 million company? >> when you first see growth slowing down and you have the cash flow. i think the thing is to get a couple venture capitalists on your board of directors that can guide you because they are going to be able to stand back and watch. you don't want to do it too soon or too late. i think to get the expertise advice in that is smart, but if you have them on your board, they will help in your negotiation once you go to that place. >> i think a question to ask yourself, too, is do you want venture capital money because then you are getting somebody on your board who is going to be in your business?
>> it is not your company anymore once you get the investment onboard, but people always say you can have 100% of a million-dollar company or a much smaller percent of a huge company. >> this is from terry who writes -- this is hard. this is when your cheerleading comes out, right? >> i think this is the wrong question to start out with. assuming that sales are going to continue to fall is not a good attitude. the business owner really needs to sit down and think about how these no's can turn into business down the road. he or she needs to ask the staff, what are the follow-up questions you are going to ask when you hear the no. is it the pricing wrong? is it new products? >> that's good because then it becomes kind of we are a team here and let's work together to build our business. >> creating a solution, it is what's going wrong and how do we
create -- maybe they are reconfiguring another product or service of how it is being districted. coming together as teamwork is important, but i also think that you have to really respect the inner head game here. yes, the know's are going to shatter people's confidence. giving them tools, maybe sending them to a motivational-type conference, giving them books, giving them other outlets to make them feel better so they don't feel so shattered at the end of the day. >> moving on, this is a question from john who writes -- i love this question because everybody is after that. elusive viral e-mail, right? just because he thought it was funny clearly it was not funny. there's no science to this, is there? >> first you want to think about why you want to go viral. you can start a viral campaign, but will it translate into more
sales? >> i think about that sometimes because over the holidays i get a lot of the dancing santas and people send them because they are funny and there's a little ad at the end that i don't even notice. so the e-mail is viral, but it is not doing anything for the company. >> are you a local business that you need to create buzz locally as opposed to globally online? i think people love this and get excited about it, but you need to think about why you are doing it. >> i think social media changes the game and can help people giveaways, giveaways. they are such a way to create something viral. if you pass this on and five people sign up, then you get something for free. >> so true. if there's self-interest involved, it is much better, right? >> absolutely. make it an incentive for who you are asking to help make it viral. then also to allow them to get some sort of reward in exchange because then they are going to continue to work with you. and your building grant equity, even if there's not a conversion right away, maybe your database
is growing for a future campaign. >> then you don't have to rely on your funniness, which may not be that funny. thank you for the advice. you are great in giving advice. if you have a question for our experts, go to the website. the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. there just hit the "ask the show" link to submit a question for the panel. again, the website is openforrum.com/yourbusiness. the address is email@example.com. have you ever fired off an e-mail in the heat of the moment and then thought, you know, i really wish i hadn't said that? well, our website of the week can help you avoid these situations. tone check is a free downloadable e-mail screening plug-no in to verify your tone. it can make suggestions to your e-mails and offers ways to reword problematic sentences. the site offers paid services
for tasks like monitoring social media. to learn more about today's show, click on our website. openforum.com/yourbusiness. you will find more information to help you grow your business. and don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we look forward to getting some of your feedback. and you can follow us on twitter@msnbcyourbiz. next week, follow me with useful lessons on how to drive a hard bargain from one of the city's toughest salesmen. >> i'm looking for more than $4. >> $4, i can't do it. >> what if we split the difference there? >> you got a deal. >> good doing business with you. >> watch as we go fishing for the best price in the market. until then, i'm jj ramberg. remember, we make your business our business.
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