Loren Feldman knows about starting a business.
As the Senior Editor of Entrepreneurship for Forbes, he's reported on all facets of business -- from startups to Wall Street to mom-and-pop shops built on blood, sweat and tears. Plus, he has his own first-hand knowledge of starting a new project, as the host of the entrepreneurially-centric Sirius radio show Mind Your Business.
He sat down with DesignRush to share the platforms that business owners should focus on, how marketing and technology may change in the coming years and the most important goal that entrepreneurs should focus on.
DesignRush: What inspired you to enter the journalism world?
Loren Feldman: My college didn't offer a journalism major but it did have a very good college newspaper, and I found myself spending a lot more time there than I did in my studies. I sort of left myself with no choice. After college, I took a year to travel and work odd jobs around the country while my classmates got jobs with small newspapers. When I came back, I used my classmates as contacts to get job interviews until I landed a job with the Paterson News in New Jersey.
DR: Tell us about Mind Your Business. How did that project come about? What tasks go into hosting a show on Sirius?
LF: Having covered entrepreneurship and business ownership for almost 20 years, I've concluded that many owners feel isolated. They don't know where to turn for advice. Every situation is different -- so it's not like one answer will work for everyone, which means you often can't just give a simple answer to a simple question -- it takes a conversation. And that's the idea with Mind Your Business. We encourage owners to call in and talk to me and the experienced owners I have as guests. We don't tell people how to run their businesses, but we try to have those conversations.
DR: You’re the senior editor of entrepreneurship at Forbes. What does your day-to-day look like?
LF: I'm happy to say that my days tend to vary. Some days I edit stories by staffers. Some days I work with our network of freelance contributors on their stories. Some days I have one meeting after another. I try to get out of the office as much as possible -- especially to go wherever business owners hang out. Some days I do all of the above.
DR: What have you learned about the entrepreneurial space after reporting on it for quite a while?
LF: Many of my colleagues think it's more fun to cover big business -- Wall Street and public companies and unicorns. They think the stakes are higher there. I prefer to cover entrepreneurs and business owners who risk their own money. Many people don't realize how routine it is for owners to borrow against their own homes -- meaning that if they lose their business they could also lose their home. That's really putting it on the line, and those are the people I like to cover.
DR: Let’s talk about design, tech and marketing’s influence in the business world. How have these industries affected entrepreneurs or the way people create small businesses?
LF: It's not widely recognized but I think social media has probably made this the best time ever to start a business. It is now possible to test an idea much less expensively than ever before. That's incredibly valuable. You really can figure out if people want to buy your product or service before you quit your day job.
DR: Have these fields also had an impact in journalism?
LF: Yes, these technological changes have had a huge impact on journalism. To have a voice, you used to have to be able to buy ink by the barrel; now everyone can have a voice. That, of course, has had both positive and negative impacts, and it also helps explain why so many media companies are still struggling to figure out a business model that works.
DR: Where do you think design, technology and marketing are heading in the next few years? Are there any trends we should keep our eyes peeled for?
LF: I'm not a technologist and I don't make predictions, but I suspect businesses will continue to find more and more efficient ways to target their audiences with incredible precision. They will increase their marketing ROI -- while also scaring and annoying a lot of people.
DR: Should young professionals be paying attention to the changing landscapes in design, tech, and marketing? How can they capitalize on those changes to grow in their career?
LF: I think it's important not to become dependent on any one platform. Try them all. Figure out what works best for you -- but be ready to jump when your target audience jumps. The platforms and technologies will always change, but the goal will always be the same -- to share content that your followers find valuable.
DR: What about entrepreneurs? If they had to focus in one of those three areas, which should they prioritize and why?
LF: They are all important. I think most entrepreneurs should focus on the message they want to deliver -- and then get help from others as to what's the best way to deliver that message.
DR: What is your favorite thing about covering the entrepreneurial sector?
LF: I really enjoy finding examples of entrepreneurs who have come up with creative solutions to difficult problems -- and then being able to share those solutions with others.
DR: How do you find the balance between journalism and providing advice or telling really incredible stories?
LF: I try not to provide advice -- both because I haven't done it myself and because I don't think one size fits all when it comes to entrepreneurial solutions. I like to take more of a case study approach and tell the stories of people who have figured things out and then let others take what lessons they can from those stories.
DR: What are some of your favorite articles that you’ve worked on?
LF: I'm very proud of a story we did about a manufacturing company in Missouri that found a different way to run its business. During a time when many have questioned whether American manufacturing can survive at all, this company has thrived -- and not just its owners. This company has factory workers who routinely retire as millionaires.
DR: That's incredible! What an important piece. And finally, do you have any advice for readers who want to follow in your footsteps?
LF: Journalism can be a tough way to make a living. You have to really want to do it. On the positive side, the Internet offers so many creative ways to tell stories, and that has made it easier for people to get their feet in the doors of media companies or to start their own companies. It can be done.
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