We’re launching Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at the Web.com’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative and most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.
Meet Anita Campbell. Anita is the publisher of Small Business Trends, one of the most successful small business websites, where (disclosure) I blog weekly.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Anita Campbell: In charge of my own destiny! I had an aunt who was a business owner and that always seemed to me to be the best of all worlds, because it seemed you were your own boss. Eventually I settled on “hanging out my shingle” as a lawyer, which to me was pretty much the same thing.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Campbell: The challenge of doing my own thing, and building something bigger than me alone, was a draw I couldn’t resist.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Campbell: I am not sure my path to success is finished—it’s still a journey. That said, when I made the shift from being a solo player to hiring help, it made a fundamental difference. It wasn’t so much about me anymore, but about this “business” that was separate and apart from me personally.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Campbell: Stick with it. It always takes a lot longer to grow a business than you expect. In any given week there are 100 things that can and likely will go wrong. You have to focus on what’s going right, and seize on those things to keep yourself motivated. And don’t beat yourself up over the failures—there will be lots of little failures every day—because you can’t do everything or do everything well. Figure out what went wrong, resolve to do better, and move on. If you dwell on the small failures, you are halfway to failing altogether. Success starts in the 5 inches between your two ears.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Campbell: Use reports, dashboards and, of course, data copiously. Reports get a bad name as being wastes of time—something people in big corporations do. But I view it differently. Unless you are tracking, measuring, and adjusting, you may never improve your business. Reports and dashboards help you “see” progress and problem areas. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur, send reports to yourself. I know it sounds crazy but I did that for years.
Lesonsky: Do you have a 2014 small business prediction?
Campbell: Content will continue to be popular for online visibility, but it will be harder and harder to get a foothold because of more competition.
Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?
Campbell: One of my favorite business books is The Highest Calling by Larry Janesky.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Campbell: Henry Ford’s quote, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right” very much applies to starting and growing a business.