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: Risa Edelstein, director of marketing for ECHOtape, a leading international pressure sensitive tape supplier. Edelstein has been instrumental in determining new growth markets and opportunities for the company, while overseeing the overall marketing and branding strategy.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Risa Edelstein: When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I realized I did not want to see animals only when they were sick.
When I got to college, I already knew I wanted to start my own business. It was the beginning of the personal computer revolution, and coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I knew I wanted to be a part of what [that] would mean for the business community.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Edelstein: I enjoy the ability to take control of my working life and be in charge, and I love being my own boss. Running a business is exciting and is a great way to learn and grow.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Edelstein: I have had many “aha” moments along the way (like “aha,” this Internet thing is going to be big), but not one pivotal moment.
Success for me has been a long road of truly amazing experiences with every venture I undertook.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Edelstein: Love what you do. There is no point spending a lifetime working at something that does not excite and charge you up. There are so many more opportunities out there for young entrepreneurs, so pick something that makes you get up and go each and every day.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Edelstein: Make many small changes; it will result in big changes over time.
I used to think that to “change” our company, we had to make major changes—something very impactful. What I discovered is that many incremental changes over a long period of time can have a huge positive net effect on your business. Plus, these smaller changes are much easier to make and for your team to get behind because they are less threatening (face it, most people do not embrace change). [This approach also] makes it less daunting to try something new because when it fails, it is not as big of a deal. I speak from experience—in the past few years, the combination of changes we have made throughout the company in all departments helped us have the best year yet.
Lesonsky: Do you have a 2015 small business prediction?
Edelstein: I think we will start to really see the influence of the Millennials as a major market, and the continued growth of mobile technology will begin to really affect the way we do business. Millennials are the next major market and we need to figure out how to sell to them under their terms. They buy differently than their predecessors and have different expectations and brand loyalties, so we have to be prepared. Mobile technology is also affecting how people engage with companies, how they get information or help, and how they perceive you as a brand. This will continue to become more evident this year.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Edelstein: Even though it is more than decade old, I still love The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It is filled with fascinating information that has really had an impact on me.
Another book I loved was The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. It really makes you think about nature and how important we are in that equation.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Edelstein: I am a big proponent of getting into the process and learning while you are doing so you can continue moving forward. So I especially love this quote by Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
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