Q&A With Rob Levin: Spreading The Entrepreneurial News
"Nobody understands what you go through better than another business owner," says Rob Levin, whose monthly New York Enterprise Report features articles written by leading business experts for small and midsize businesses. Here, Levin shares his thoughts about growing businesses, not only from the perspective of someone who covers them but as one who runs one, as well.
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But you don't have to run a company in New York or the states it borders to benefit from reading NY Report. Recent articles include how to choose among advertising options, cool smartphone tools, and tips for hiring resilient employees. What business wouldn't want to know? In fact, small businesses throughout the United States face the same challenges, says Levin, who is founder, editor-in-chief, and publisher of the 5-year-old publication. "Nobody understands what you go through better than another business owner," he says.
Among those businesses is Levin, himself, who began his career in the early 1990s as a CPA for Arthur Andersen. "But I always knew one day I'd have my own business," he says. "I've always been fascinated by small business. My father has a business. To me, that's where all the fun is." Though Levin doesn't disclose revenue, he says his business has grown a minimum 30% year-over-year, and the number of magazine subscribers has nearly tripled. In this interview with bMighty contributor Gayle Kesten, Levin shares his thoughts about growing businesses, not only from the perspective of someone who covers them but as one who runs one, as well.
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bMighty: Where did you get the idea for NY Report?
Rob Levin: I had been doing a lot of work all along with helping out small businesses, and I saw this trend, which was actually very obvious: These businesses were very good at what they did, but they really didn't know how to run businesses. I realized I knew a lot of experts -- HR, sales, marketing people. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could come up with a way to deliver these experts to small businesses on a mass basis?" That's when I came up with the idea for the magazine.
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bMighty: What kinds of changes have you seen during the time you've covered small businesses?
Rob Levin: One of the biggest is how small businesses are starting to recognize how important human resources are. Business owners are realizing it's your team, and how well they're motivated and managed, that is going to determine your success, certainly more than you will.
bMighty: How do you motivate your employees?
Rob Levin: We get e-mail, some snail mail, and phone calls from readers every week, [which] I share with the team. I think it's important for everybody in the company to understand the kind of impact we're making. They also have the ability to meet readers at our events and others that we participate in. Other things I do is to give them as much guidance and sense of where we're going, give them the tools they need, and really just get out of their way and support them. I've learned to step away from the day to day -- not only so I can do other things but also because people don't want to be micromanaged. It's a passion-killer.