Starting small meant plenty of hard work for the Leveens, who juggled new parenthood and homebased entrepreneurship all at once. "We had a newborn that first year, and it was crazy," Steve says. "There were times we felt claustrophobic, especially being holed up in our apartment for long periods."
Close quarters and a small staff (limited to the two Leveens) kept costs low, which enabled the partners to develop their concept and skills at a slow pace, learning as they went along. Time and effort were two critical ingredients in the Leveens' newfangled venture. After all, they had entered a market without guideposts.
How, for example, do you reach serious readers? The Leveens used trial and error--and a plethora of inexpensive small-space ads--to figure out which publications their market read and what they would buy. It was a slow process but an effective one. "By the time we were ready to rent outside lists and do our first unsolicited mailing in 1991," says Steve, "we had a pretty good idea where to go, what to sell and what business we were in."