The Ascent interviews Rena Reiser, owner and publisher of New Mexico MarketPlace and New Mexico Woman, about the challenges and rewards of owning a business.
If you live in the Albuquerque metro area, chances are you know New Mexico Market, New Mexico’s oldest and largest monthly publication. A monthly print magazine, New Mexico Market is mailed to approximately two-thirds of homes in the Albuquerque metro area. The magazine was founded in 1986 and serves as a resource guide primarily for home improvement products and services.
Launched at the end of 2019, New Mexico Woman is a bimonthly lifestyle magazine, inspired by everyday women who are making a difference in Albuquerque and beyond. New Mexico Woman is available for free online and in various locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Today we’ll be speaking with Rena Reiser, owner and publisher of New Mexico Market and New Mexico Womanwho tells us about his journey from freelance writer to business owner.
Q&A with Rena Reiser
The Ascent: You worked at New Mexico Market for years. What made you decide to buy it?
Rene Reiser: Employed for almost 20 years, I knew the company very well. I was vice president of the company, so staff, customers, and suppliers all knew me. The magazine was over 30 years old at the time and had a large group of regular and loyal customers who had developed their own business with the help of New Mexico market. I was convinced that I could run the business successfully.
The Ascent: I just bought New Mexico Marketwhat prompted you to launch a new publication?
Reise: When I bought New Mexico Market in 2018 it was a successful business already in operation. I wanted to make my own mark and create something new to me. In the fall of 2018, I was visiting my oldest daughter in South Dakota. She was expecting her second child and had been bedridden. When she finally got out of the house, she wanted to do some shopping for the new baby, so we went to a children’s store.
At the store, I saw a free local women’s magazine at checkout. I took it, and the idea of starting a new magazine began to form. As a native of New Mexico, I have met some of the most amazing and strong women – women with grace and courage who all have a story to tell. I envisioned a more “general interest” women’s magazine that would feature everyday women making a difference in their communities, with inspiring stories that would encourage female readers to do the same.
The Ascent: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a small business owner? How did you overcome these challenges or what is your plan moving forward?
Reise: We faced challenges common to many small businesses, like acquiring new customers and hiring the right people. When I bought New Mexico Marketone of the first challenges i faced was getting out of the rut of “the way things have always been done”.
I immediately got to work redefining our options, personally contacting all of our customers about the changes. It was a lot to deal with all at once, but the company’s savings are better off now. And we only lost a few customers because of the changes.
Another challenge is trying not to get sucked into the “shiny object” syndrome. When we see competitors offering a new service that we don’t, or they have customers we’d like but can’t convince, we have to remember to be the best at what we do. are able to do.
The Ascent: What tools have you used in your business that have made your team more productive?
Reise: For our salespeople, we use cloud-based email, call forwarding and digital tablets, all of which can help them do their job more easily in the field and out of the office. I also highly recommend using some type of CRM database. Regardless of the size of your business, it’s essential to have a single source to record all communications with customers and prospects, and to track their sales history with you.
The Ascent: Have you ever seen an expansion outside of New Mexico?
Reise: Not at this stage. The two magazines we publish are for our local community. But I think there is potential for expansion within our state. New Mexico is a very large state geographically and a very diverse state culturally.
It would be premature on my part to think that we have done everything there is to do here and that we are starting to look beyond our borders. Even with our flagship publication, New Mexico Marketwe haven’t accomplished everything we want here in our own state.
The Ascent: How has the pandemic affected your business?
Reise: New Mexico has been under fairly strict shutdowns during the pandemic. New Mexico Woman magazine – which launched in the fall of 2019 – has been significantly affected. Many of our advertisers were deemed “non-essential” and had to close, making it impossible to continue advertising. Thus, after publishing three issues, New Mexico Woman had to suspend printing.
Fortunately, New Mexico Market fared better. Most of the advertisers in this magazine are renovation/construction companies, which were deemed “essential” from the start. We have lost a few advertisers, some of which have closed and others due to economic uncertainty. Overall, we ended the year with revenue down about 15%.
The Ascent: What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs and leaders in your field?
Reise: There is room for all of us at the table. Don’t view every woman in your field as competition and be prepared to share your knowledge. For years, our company has been a member of an international association of free magazine and newspaper publishers. This network of editors outside of my geographic area is always ready to help with struggles and come up with new ideas.
When I was looking for the idea to start New Mexico Woman magazine, I reached out to other women editors across the country. Everyone I spoke to was willing to answer my questions about the pros and cons of starting a new women’s magazine. I’m someone who knows I don’t know everything – and I’m grateful to those who are willing to share.
The Ascent: What advice would you give to young women or girls looking to start their own business?
Reise: My first piece of advice is to find your niche and know your audience. As much as you would like, you cannot be everything to everyone. If you don’t have a clear idea of your niche and your audience, you can waste a lot of time and money chasing bad ideas or bad customers.
My second piece of advice is that no education is wasted – be it schooling or on-the-job training. I started college pursuing a business degree. I was halfway through college when I decided to go into journalism.
My first adult job out of college was in the communications department at the college I attended. In these years of writing, I never thought my business education would become so essential. Now that I run my own business, it is these accounting, management, and marketing skills that I can use to sustain and grow my business.
My final piece of advice is that nothing happens until you sell something. Every business is a sales business and every business owner is a sales person. No matter what product or service you offer, you sell yourself, your ideas, your solutions. So add sales training to your training plans!
The Ascent: Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
Reise: I would invest in IT technology to make remote working easier – opting for cloud-based solutions for all our software, equipping all staff to be able to work from home, looking for collaborative ways to maintain one-handed engagement – remote work.
All in all, I would have done everything sooner! I would have bought New Mexico Market earlier, and launched New Mexico Woman sooner, giving him more time to develop so he’s on solid ground before the pandemic hits.
The Ascent: What can our readers learn from your journey?
Reise: When I started working for the company I now own, I wasn’t even an employee, I was a freelance writer. Doing well in this job allowed me to come on board as a part-time editor. From there, I took on the full-time duties of office manager, then sales manager, and finally editor. By knowing all the moving parts of the business, I was better able to take over as owner.
It’s also important to realize that not all successful business owners have to be the founders of the business. Some people have the skills to be serial startup entrepreneurs, while others are better suited to grow and expand what has already started. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many ideas develop better when transplanted into another mind than the one in which they arose.”
Business ownership takes all forms
For Rena Reiser, being a successful business owner meant buying an existing business as well as starting a new publication.
For women looking to join the world of entrepreneurship, it’s important to remember that no knowledge is ever lost and that you have a stronger support network than you might think. Rena Reiser certainly thinks so.