There are some “rules” of business success most entrepreneurs abide by. But many also have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that helped them achieve success. In “Secrets of Success,” a weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum, I ask some of today’s smartest, most innovative, most successful business owners to share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Ron Epstein is the president of Epstein Custom Media, which publishes L.A. Parent and owns the National Parenting Publication Awards. He is also the current president of the Western Publishing Association
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Ron Epstein: I always loved sports, so I knew it would be something involved in that industry. When I reached high school and discovered I couldn’t hit a curveball or a three-pointer, I knew my playing career was over. I loved to write, and I read the sports section in the newspaper every day, so I joined my high school newspaper staff, and from that point I wanted to be a sports writer.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Epstein: We call our business a 30-year-old startup because it had been around for about 30 years before we purchased it, but it was in such poor shape that it needed to be rebuilt. That said, I did it because I’d worked in corporate America for 20+ years and had this itch to do something on my own. I wanted to be able to take chances, change direction and grow a business on my own, rather than having to submit my ideas to a committee, wait a few weeks and then, often, hear nothing.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Epstein: I realized early on that while I knew where I wanted this business to go, I couldn’t get it there on my own. I had to trust our employees. That’s not easy to do in the early stages of running your own business when every dollar matters, but that was a huge step for us and really helped us open doors and grow.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Epstein: My dad told me that all the decisions I make won’t be the right ones, but I should learn and grow from them. And my brother-in-law told me that as a small business owner my mind will never rest. That was spot-on.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Epstein: Listen to your team. Our employees believe in our products and want to see our business grow and succeed. They put in long hours and are proud of the work they do. They also have great ideas. Trust that [your employees] have your best interests in mind.
Lesonsky: Do you have a small business prediction for 2015?
Epstein: I don’t have a prediction, but I’ll say this: Small business owners are hard workers who are committed to innovation and customer service, and that’s a good combination for growth and success.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Epstein: All of John Wooden’s books. His approach to leadership, organization and people skills is excellent, and applicable in any industry.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Epstein: This one is on my wall. It’s a Tom Hanks line from the movie A League of Their Own: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. Hard is what makes it great.”
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