tv Your Business MSNBC July 22, 2012 4:30am-5:00am PDT
hi there, everyone, i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. with the olympics starting next week we thought we'd devote to today's show to the men and women entrepreneurs who have had success running sports-related small businesses. to start off we have pole dancing. yes, you heard right. you probably associate pole dancing with exotic dancers, but you know what, it is the newest fitness craze and possibly a future olympic sport. we head to austin, texas to visit a pole fitness studio that's fighting the negative stigma surrounding the industry. ♪ girls girls girls >> i'm an elementary school teacher. >> i'm a technician. i work in a doctor's office.
♪ girls girls gerls >> i'm a librarian. ♪ red lips fenger tips >> if you're not already familiar with pole fitness, these may not be the kinds of women you'd expect to see learning the latest moves. this is pole dancing of today, it's more than just a performance. it's a growing trend in fitness. >> when i transferred to austin for work at the time, i was looking for a different sort of class. i was used to doing yoga and belly dancing and pole. i couldn't find that one-stop shop here. when i got downsized from my job, i'm like, that's a great opportunity. that was my vision. so i said this is where i'm going to start. >> soon, after opening the doors of inner diva, sherri knew she had a hit. her classes were full with people looking to are a new, fun way to get in shape ♪ i'm bringing sexy back >> that said, she still had to contend with old notions of what
pole dancing is. >> as a business owner, the hurdles are the conception of pole. it's not, you know, necessarily stripping. that's what a lot of people think when you hear of pole dancing but it's not. >> i still get looks, you know, you're a pole dancer? or, you know, negative look. have you tried it? you know? don't knock it until you try it. >> the classes have helped some students shed the pounds. >> i've lost 27 pounds since i started in january and a bunch of inches. i feel so much stronger. it's hard. you're usually drenched in sweat sometimes. >> and others gain confidence. >> i had so much fun and i got so empowered that i just kept doing it and i love it. and i can't stop. >> i think anyone who believes that pole fitness is the club type thing is way behind the 8 ball. it's evolved. it's a fitness phenomenon right now. it's way beyond that. >> while the inner circle understands the change, the
risque outfits and the pole itself has made pole fitness a tricky sell. >> the gymnasts are wearing leotards. we have to wear less for the reason of sticking and holding to the pole. it's not like we're try to be half naked. >> this isn't just a problem at inner diva. it's a problem for pole fitness studios across the country. which is why they found strength in numbers. ♪ what doesn't till you makes you stronger ♪ >> our sport is really quite new when i co-founded the pole fitness association we had a need and we had a need to establish consistent training standards, to establish a way that we can all communicate with each other. >> that communication is not only pushing the sport forward but also helping individual studio owners succeed. >> we have the opportunity to share business ideas. we talk about how to train our staffs, maintain them, promote them. we talk about overcoming the kind of dated opinion of what
pole is and how we do that, how we negate that. so we use -- i've used it substantially as a business reference, just like i would in corporate america. >> the pole fitness association brings all the vendors, the experts. kind of puts it at your finger tips. >> recently we caught up with some of the people setting the tone of pole fitness as we know it at the international pole convention in los angeles. the top competitors and studio owners from across the globe came to share resources on the latest techniques and to discuss a topic that's been making headline news, getting pole fitness into the olympics. >> there's a lot of debate whether pole dance fitness belongs in the olympics or not. in some sense that movement is a beautiful grass roots movement to enable people to understand that pole fitness is mainstream worthy. and that it has athletic credentials, right? that what we do requires training to be good at it.
and it's a rigorous sport. >> they've missed the deadline for the london olympics but they plan on pushing forward for the 2016 games. whether they make it or not, it means greater exposure for pole fitness as a whole. >> the challenge in making this an olympic sport is mostly the stigma that comes along with pole. in that everyone when you tell women it's based on pole dancing they automatically think strippers, they think we're trying to get a bunch of strippers into the olympics. couldn't be further from the truth. these are pole athletes. >> the conference also brought to light that not all collaboration has to be formal. >> this is an amazing opportunity for everybody to get together, because we connect on facebook and on youtube and there's that community sense but then here it's real. you get to meet people who you only know through facebook. i have over 3,000 friends on facebook who i probably have not met 80% of them. but when i come to these places all of a sudden it's like you're
leanne from body and pole. that's incredible. >> so far, the associations have done a lot to help educate the public that pole dancing can be for everyone. and as they get more people comfortable with the idea, no doubt the number of participants and studios will grow. >> some of my co-workers do know about it and they also have a lot of different questions but once you kind of explain what it is you're doing and they can actually see the difference. i show them my guns every once in a while. i have to admit. >> here's a question for you. what do the most successful entrepreneurs have in common with the most successful olympic athletes? the answer is that they give it their all to achieve their goals. that's the case for one olympian who we first introduced you to in 2010. she's going for gold beyond the ski slopes. >> michelle rourke is a world-class ski champion and she does like to win.
she's also a newcomer to the not so delicate business of perfumes and fragrance with her denver-based company. >> i've heard a lot of people say to me, you have a lot of energy. how can we bottle that? i'm not afraid of getting negative feedback because it just helps me be better. and i'm not afraid. i'm not afraid to go out and try something. >> right now she's trying a lot of things, all at once. she's in training for the 2010 winter olympics. >> just take a little smell. >> she's running a spa, salon and custom perfume business. and she's finishing her studies at the colorado school of minds. >> when i first started they said you have to choose between this and skiing. you can't do both. i said, watch me. >> her husband says it's her
ability to focus that is the key to her success. >> she puts in the extra time, puts in the details, invests all the personal sacrifice. that person tnds to win. >> according to rourke, a top athlete needs more than skill. when you reach her level, competition is all about state of mind. >> we listen to a particular music to get us in the right state of mind. we often have like maybe our lucky socks or just something that gives us the right feel. >> for rourke, getting that feel of victory came from smelling a certain sweet smell. call it the smell of success. >> why not have a scent that could send it instantly into my memory and instantly remind me of how it felt to ski so well. >> finding that scent wasn't easy. >> i was just dissatisfied with the commercial blends i found out there. so i decided to use my chemical engineering back grounds and inconvenient the my own. >> it worked, her team members, especially her chief rival
absolutely took notice. >> she was in the start gate and i pulled up. she looked over and she's like i smelled you coming. >> other people also took notice. and that's when she first thought of making a business, selling her homemade, all natural fragrance. >> i did a launching party in the spring of 2006 and i completely sold out that night. >> as tough as the odds are against conquering the ski slopes, rourke knows the odds of introducing a successful new fragrance might be even tougher. but she's got a plan. >> we set ourselves apart from the commercial blends in the fact that we're all natural, we don't use ethanol, alcohol, additives or fillers. there are so many naturaless ens and so many different ways of combining them and in so many different proportions. >> what's growing are the small entrepreneurial brand that are in boutique specialty stores. >> they see a glimmer of hope for entrepreneurs like rourke. >> she'll connect with the consumer with her ability to
capture her spirit and her inspiration by creating the fragrance herself. >> it's important to be patient with your dreams. that doesn't always happen right away. and the ones who love it the most in the end can really stick it out, i think will see them come to fruition or at least one would hope. i truly believe in that. >> beach volleyball has become one of the olympic's most popular events but how do you train for it when you live hours away from the water or the weather's just too cold to practice outside? some enterprising entrepreneurs found a solution, built it into a niche business and now profits are spiking. ♪ >> you see people walking in from the parking lot with their backpack and chair and you'd swear they're walking down to one of the local beaches but they're not, they're coming here to the sand box. >> while it may look like the start of just another day at the
beach, the truth is, the shore is actually miles away. >> the sand box is an indoor beach facility here in new england. and we offer beach volleyball, dodgeball, beach tennis, all sorts of sports to play indoors. >> we've offered the sporting side of it but we've offered the aesthetic, the vibe of the beach. >> complete with sand, four volleyball players and a tiki bar, this mystic connecticut business, the sand box, is the brain child of brendan woolrich. he and partner john are beach volleyball players whoen watted to turn their passion into a year-round activity. >> it was slightly a selfish motive, i'm sure. i wanted some place to play beach volleyball and certainly it was a good way to make a business out of it. >> a lot of it for me personal is the fact i could be involved in a sport i love. >> woolrich knew his idea may have some traction. why? the sand box is the only indoor beach volleyball facility in new
england. it also helps that volleyball is a sport for anyone and everyone. >> it just seems to be something that everybody is able to do at some level. it allows you to be as competitive as you want or uncompetitive as you want. >> you can look ott our demographic in age and gender it's it's a pretty diverse array. >> considering volleyball's wide appe appeal, woolrich needed to do more than just fill his business with die-heard players. he decided to create a community, drop with drop-in games and tournament. >> everybody wants to play in the sand box. sense of community i'm trying to develop here is everybody's welcome, all levels of play, all ages, all genders. community is a vast array of people. so you know, you want everybody represented here. >> building the community required a little strategy. first, woolrich and his partner needed to attract their base. the key was getting players who would make the trek simply to play at the beach. >> volleyball players are a
niche group in themselves. they will travel 3 1/2, 4 hours to go somewhere if it's good play. they won't go half an hour for something that's free and not that good. >> the pair turned to the web to reach out to potential customers. >> you can advertise on the volleyball lists on the internet, facebook pages, social media. that type of stuff. it slowly makes its way out. it spiders and networks and so suddenly, people down in florida are hearing about this place called the sand box or people in delaware or whatnot. >> the idea has done the trick. players are going the distance to check out the sand box. barbara mulligan drive one hour from rhode island just to play. >> some friends talked about how this indoor sand that was going to be opening up and that was the first we heard about it. the opportunity of having something over the winter is awesome. kind of keep our sand legs ready for the summer coming up. >> while joseph ward and his friend drove six hours from new jersey for some facetime in a tournament -- >> we have friends down by where
we are. they're open players and they knew about it and we looked it up on facebook and found out about it. it's our first time here. >> unlike some fellow volleyball players, samantha browning lives locally. >> it's cool getting to know everyone. this is my first year playing beach volleyball. >> she and her area residents praise the sand box's community approach, even though the number of local customers is still lower than expected. >> volleyball is just not sport. volleyball is social as well. >> the last most important thing, you develop a community of the people that come in here. instead of treating them as customers, you treat them as a friend, someone that is also your volleyball partner. >> there's a number of people here today who i don't know but certainly i'll try to talk to them before they leave, see how they like it. >> woolrich says his beach brings together players of all skill levels who might otherwise be opponents. >> there's a lot of groups, you'll play at this beach and you'll never get on the court with them or they don did the like this beach. but everybody comes here. >> the popularity of the sand
box during the winter has helped make money. but the business faces the inevitable challenge when the weather warms up. >> we can't compete with a beach. i'll be down at the beach myself. >> both business owners say there there's still plenty of reasons to come to their pass i89. >> we have the only lighted courts in the area. the sun does eventually go down. we'll be here offering volleyball 7:30, 8:00 at night. >> if we have a tournament here and it rains, we don't have the to change the time. >> with the addition of charity events to the mix, the sand box is holding tight to its community ideal and they are doing everything they can to make their community grow. >> that's 99% of the problem for a small business owner, how do you get people in the door. so now that they've gotten in the door, i'm more than happy to jump on the court even with the most recreational beginner player. when we come back, our
special sports entrepreneur show continues. we'll show you why these surfboard builders learned that the way to grow their business was to let their customers help design their own products. and from surf to snow, jake burton of burton snowboards on avoiding obstacles in this week's "learning from the pros." you know, those farmers, those foragers, those fishermen.... for me, it's really about building this extraordinary community. american express is passionate about the same thing. they're one of those partners that i would really rely on whether it's finding new customers, or, a new location for my next restaurant. when we all come together, my restaurants, my partners, and the community amazing things happen. to me, that's the membership effect.
a personalized experience. that's what two entrepreneurs hope to give every customer who buys one of their wooden surfboards. while these small business owners welcome orders over phone or online, they'd rather have a more intimate connection with their clients. that's why they invite their fellow surfers to come to the company and build their own surfboard classroom style. >> it never gets old. i mean, it's really, really exciting. >> our mission is to share this with people who are deserving of it. >> we're trying to not just offer a product but give people an experience. >> mike and brad run their business with a purpose. and they want their customers to know it's personal. >> it's an honor, really, to
hear from people who have said they followed us for a year, two years with be three years and they've saved up enough money to come and do this. >> the owners of grain surfboards in new york, maine, take pride in their open door approach to sales. >> when people call her, we're the ones who answer the phone. we want to share this. >> this farm which doubles as grain's headquarters may not seem like the ideal setting for a surfboard company. >> there's cows out there, pigs in the barn, chickens in the chicken yard, dogs running around. >> that doesn't stop mike and brad from giving surfers the ability to build their own surfboard. >> it's connecting to surfing's heritage. >> these entrepreneurs transform into teachers to share their passion with their pupils. students have included surgeons, airline pilots, models and even children. they come from around the world
to immerse themselves in grain surf boards. >> seven days. each person that's in the class builds their own board from start to finish. you can get the satisfaction and build a board with your own two hands that you'll enjoy that much more. >> all of the boards are made from locally harvested trees. once the students pick from one of grain's 19 designs their education begins. >> we'll sit down each morning, talk about the big picture of what we're trying to do that week, sketch it out. answer as many questions as we can. most of the time people are working on their own. >> there's a certain independence required for the glu gluing, sanding and glassing of surfboards but mike and brad are never far. >> we're always milling around. we try to leave people to work on their own and figure things out. we don't want to be standing there telling them how to do
things. part of idea is to discover about themselves. >> if they want more help, we give them more help. we try to leave them on their own to experience it. we can watch, witness it and talk about it at lunch. >> mark carter is taking his first class at grain. >> when you surf you talk about the stoke, getting stoked. these guys are perpetuating the stoke. they're super easy to talk to, approachable. if you're making a mistake, it's like, oh, it's no big deal. it's wood. we can work with this. having them here is a benefit. >> bob is building his seventh board. he's hooked. >> they will take the time to help you out. the customer is number one with them. i keep saying i've made my last board and they keep seeing me back here again and again. >> while it may be tough for some entrepreneurs to have their customers so close for so long, mike and brad say it's one of best parts of their jobs. >> if we wanted to just make money on people and give them a
product and send them an invoice and slam them out the door, they wouldn't want to come here. we want to do this because we think it's what's at the heart of what is fantastic about this. >> they can reap the benefits of the board and have grain build it for them, brad and mike still include them in the design process. many surfers also ought opt to buy kits to build their boards at home. even then, the experience is as personal as possible. >> if people need help, we're here literally 16 hours a day answering the phone, answering e-mails and people are sending us texts and sending us videos. they're doing it at night and on wxdz and those are the times we have to be available. >> reporter: despite tough economic times, grain has actually increased the number of classes off aered a erea, and,
people have responded. >> people are coming here and building a board and having an experience that is a little more memorable and seems to have more value for their investment. they leave here with a surf board. >> reporter: while grains surf boards is still a business, they want their customers to know it has always been about more than just money. it's about experience, a very personal one, that they want to continue to share with each and every person. >> for us a lifestyle as much as a business. you can make a life that you can feel is rewarding. we continue to build this business around a set of values we have about how we want to live and how we want to live in the world. >> we don't want people who aren't going to surf well or look good. it's important to us to keep people happy and keep people safe. 35 years ago, jake burton spotted a trend, a life-long outdoor sports enthusiast, he noticed more and more people on
the slopes of vermont trading in their skis for snowboards. he started out modesty. as the sport has grown into an international success and even becoming an olympic event, so has burton's business. >> when i got started it was very, very challenging. and i did a business plan on the back of a napkin and if i made 50 boards a day, i could make $100,000 a year and it was sort of pretty materialistically oriented and i got started and i built a little factory and hired a couple of people and, sure enough, we got to where we were making snowboards a day, but the problem is, we sold 300 in the first year. i had to shut down the whole factory and let everybody go and get it back down to myself. i hit rock bottom there after that first year, and obviously, money was very important, more
for survival than making money. i started to focus on the sport and i made the right decision. i left new york and started this company and tried to get this industry rolling and once i focused purely on that, everything sort of fell into place. we make boards for each constituency and we take feedback from that group of people. we are making a board for a 13-year-old kid we get their feedback and going where they want to go with it. when we first got into kid's stuff we built what we thought kids would like. you can't go wrong when you listen to the riders. that's what we're all about. we operate several different brands, but burton is a brand that is about snowboarding and we don't want to dilute that and
we got into eye wear, goggles and shades. it's doing very well and then red is our safety helmets and safety equipment and some tools. you know, accessories around the sport. the same thing with skateboarding. we arequired a company called dna. we feel like we're pretty well balanced. we're involved in the sports that we want to be in. we have a hards good foundation which is important to have a technical element for the sport and not just making clothing for it. i think that maybe to a fault that i'm not a real long-range planner and my approach is more year-to-year and i think that you, that's the best way to approach your business. you don't want to get into an overproduction. you want to make your decisions based on the long-term ramifications and things like keeping your product fresh and keeping it scarce in the market,
short-term decisions that have long-term ramifications and that's kind of how i operate. i'm not a big one looking at three-year, five-year financial plans. i think you want to be very focused on the present to succeeding in business. do you find yourself constantly on the move? here now are five tech gadgets that will keep your travel lightweight and efficient courtesy of mashit.com. organize all your tangled wires, gadgets and miscellaneous charges while protecting your tablet. two, brookstone virtual keyboard retails for a little under $200. it will project a keyboard on to flat surface and uses a blue tooth to connect to your tablet or smartphone. the belkin mini surge protector dual usb charger.
number four, the hdmi pocket projector. display that power point you made on the plane ride over using this device. it retails at a little under $500. five, your on your way luggage scale. changes from blue to red when your bag is overweight, that way you'll never get stuck paying unexpected luggage fees at the airport. looking to find ways to interact with your customer online, then check out our website of the week. contest manager helps you add branded contest or awards to your facebook fan page. using their online software you can quickly customize contest that will get you engaging with your customers in a brand-new way. share contest entries on their favorite social networks. to learn more about today's show, just click on our website, openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive
conteco content to help your business grow. and don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week because of the olympics, we'll come to you at a special time, 6:30 a.m. eastern. we'll tell you about a woman whose business made 3 billion the first year and plummeted to a tenth of that and what she did to rebound. plus, stylish business advice from hairdresser to the stars. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business, our business. they have names like idle time books and smash records and on small business saturday they remind a nation of the benefits of shopping small. on just one day, 100 million of us joined a movement... and main street found its might again.