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: Antonio Centeno, founder of Real Men Real Style, which has over 1,000 articles and videos on men’s style. Antonio also created The Personal Image System, a style course for professionals.
Antonio, a former U.S. Marine, studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. You can reach him on Twitter @RMRStyle.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Antonio Centeno: When I was a kid I wanted to be a paleontologist.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Centeno: Having the freedom of running my own show was what I always wanted. The thought of waking up in the morning and knowing that the success of my company depended on my decisions intrigued me.
The people I admired were entrepreneurs who lived their lives on their own terms. Whatever they did, they did it with passion even when it meant working 60+ hours a week. As a kid who grew up around people who dreaded their jobs, this was fascinating and I wanted it for myself.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Centeno: Yes. People want content that is easy to understand yet full of details. This led me to create a private and safe venue where guys could learn the basics of style, either at their own pace or with a class. The number of followers the website gained [in a short time] surprised me. This made me realize that there was an online market for solid and authoritative information.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Centeno: Mistakes will always be part of the learning process. I make them every single day and I’ve probably committed 10 big ones last year alone. I think that’s the only way you learn—even if you wish you didn’t have to go through them. After all—for every mistake, we get a better batting average.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Centeno: Connecting with their followers. Businesses that reach out to their followers on a personal level are the most successful. Customers buy your product because they believe in you. One way to return the favor is to get in touch with them and actually see how they’re doing or see if there’s an issue you can help them with. Not only will they be grateful for the help but it will also help strengthen relationships with your audience.
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
Centeno: Content generation will be the next trend for the future. People are hungry for information—about fashion, food, sports and so much more. And they’re not just hungry—they want it fast.
Creating a small business by providing quality content for people online is a sure way to gain followers and more importantly, revenue.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Centeno: The Game of Thrones series and John Warrillow’s The Automatic Customer are great, but my favorite would have to be The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator by Leigh Thompson.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Centeno: “Do not wait for the perfect moment, because the perfect moment to start a business will never come. Start now.”
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.