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JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s “It’s Your Business,” shares pointed entrepreneurial advice from a few of her favorite guests.  


Look Outside

Guest: Steven Smith, founder, Stash Tea and Tazo Tea, Portland, Oregon

“Steven was looking for new packaging designs,” says Ramberg, whose recently released first book is titled It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business. “But instead of just looking at what tea companies were doing, he scoped out other industries. Perfume and stationery products ended up providing the biggest inspiration. If you want to stand out, don’t limit yourself to the precedents set in your own industry.”


Own Ideas

Guest: Ken Ramberg, co–founder, goodsearch.com 

“My brother Ken, who I co-founded the website goodsearch.com with, provided this advice: If a good idea surfaces in a meeting, somebody has to take ownership of it. Otherwise, chances are nothing will get done. People are busy; they’re worried about getting through their own to-do lists. An idea cannot leave the room without an owner. Someone has to be responsible for pushing it forward, even if it is just to evaluate it.” 


Fix Problems

Guest: Barry Moltz, business consultant, barrymoltz.com

“Barry’s point was that people are more likely to buy painkillers than vitamins. Let your customers know what kind of pain your business kills and they’ll have a whole new way of thinking about you. It’s about framing the way you pitch your company: Instead of only talking about the benefits, talk about the problems it solves.”


Never Say No

Guests: Katherine and Kimberly Corp, owners, Pilates on Fifth, New York City

“One day somebody walked into Katherine and Kimberly’s studio and asked if they offered yoga. Rather than say ‘no,’ the receptionist responded with, ‘We have Cardiolates and Pilates. Have you ever tried Cardiolates?’ And the person ended up signing up for a class. Katherine and Kimberly’s rule is, if someone asks for something you don’t have, use it as an opportunity to talk about what you do offer. The word ‘no’ is off-putting; it’s a conversation ender.”


Be a Customer

Guest: Donna Perillo, owner, Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa & Boutique, New York City

“Donna told me that if you don’t experience your business as a customer, you could be missing out on crucial customer service elements. In her case, these were things like: Is the room a comfortable temperature? Has the hot tea gotten cold? Is the music too loud?  You will provide better service to your customers if you understand your business from their point of view.” 


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