At SXSWi last year, I was sitting outside waiting to get into a panel and I was flustered because of the wait, upset that I didn’t have time to grab a Starbucks beforehand, and weary because I was running on little sleep and had a day filled with meetings, panels, speeches, and events. I was feeling very sorry for myself.
The woman next to me was overly cheerful and had obviously slept more than two hours (and was not hungover), and as she flipped through her conference manual, she asked what I did for a living. After hundreds of meaningless interactions, I kind of mumbled where I worked, and she said “oh my god. Are you serious? I read you every day!”
She began listing articles I had written and others on the team had written, citing exactly why her professional life had been changed by our organization.
What I learned is that there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people that ingest what we offer without ever commenting, without sharing anything on social networks, and without taking any action. I learned that what we do has value and can change lives for the better, even on days when I’m having a pity party for myself at a snooty conference. That has been one of the most inspiring moments of my career – to know that the endless sleepless nights matter.
How did you recover from your biggest business-related failure, and what did you learn?
Before my current career, I worked for one of the largest commercial real estate developer and I was pretty good at it. I’m detail oriented, assertive when I need to be, and I could always see the gaps in a deal that others missed. But people kept getting promoted ahead of me. It was so frustrating, but in retrospect, I realize that my biggest failure was to never ask directly enough for anything, I just assumed that my hard work and constant overtime would be fairly recognized and that we were all waiting in line.
That failure forced me to understand the value of asking a boss for what I deserved, a client for what was necessary, and so on.
How do you use social media, mobile or search marketing for your business?
Social media is our primary promotional tool with a strong emphasis on Facebook. Once upon a time, most of our effort was devoted to Twitter, but as the social networking culture changed, we found that Facebook was where our readers were spending time, so we pivoted.
We use a variety of SEO tools and methods to attract readers from Google, but we have always written to a human reader, a loyal reader, rather than passerbys. We have a fully responsive site, so mobile readers are comfortable, and iOS users have a unique viewing experience that can’t be missed!
In short, we use the hell out of social, mobile, and search – it is everything to our business. Everything.
Where do you go for help with the administrative aspects of running a business, such as payroll set up, doing your taxes, business-related legal matters, etc?
Honestly? When I have a question, I know that our readers have or will have that same question, so we assign a staff writer to research it and write about it. It’s an unfair advantage, but within 24 hours, I typically have a more thorough answer than Google could ever give me, and I know what kind of professional I need to reach out to and what kind of questions I need to ask.
What are your favorite small business resources or tools?
Besides our own small business publication?! Of course, we can’t be all things to all people, including ourselves, so we find that all small businesses should be aware of what the Small Business Development Centers have to offer since they’re in all major cities and most smaller cities in America, at the ready. Even if we don’t go into their office for help, their website has amazing resources.
Quora.com is a question and answer community that offers insanely valuable and relevant insight from industry insiders and it isn’t flooded with spam (yet). Almost anything I need to know is there, and when it isn’t, all I have to do is ask.
This concludes our interview with Lani Rosales. If you’re a Women Grow Business community member and would like to be featured, be on the lookout for our standard set of interview questions, coming up on all our community outposts, including the Women Grow Business group here on Web.com, where they will appear first.