Curiosity is Key When Overcoming Obstacles in Business
When founding a business, you’re undoubtedly going to run into problems and there are always going to be hurdles that you need to overcome. The easiest and most effective way to overcome hurdles in my opinion is to be open minded. You have to have a willingness to learn and remain curious. Arrogance is the worst quality that a founder or business owner can possess because it hinders your ability to listen and learn. Curiosity is key and you have to be willing to lean on your network and learn from industry experts that have already experienced what you’re going through. There is power in numbers and you can’t build a business alone.
One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made to date in my tech career was hiring a Chief Technology Officer that didn’t align with our businesses core values. They wanted complete control over the product but didn’t understand our customer base or the core problems that we were trying to solve. We were building software to help small businesses be more successful and it was important for us to put ourselves in their shoes so we could solve their pain points and provide exceptional service.
I made this hire because this person had an exceptional track record. They came from a huge company with a great reputation and tons of awards, but I failed to recognize that they didn’t have the knowledge they needed to be successful in their role. I had spent years building businesses in the services and franchise industries so I knew about the problems we were trying to solve, and I knew that our technology had to be built on the premise that we would be providing solutions to these problems. We were dealing with small business owners that were worried about making their monthly truck payments and paying their staff on time. I knew that we had to create technology that was easy to use and effective.
Hiring him and the results that occurred was 100% my responsibility, I chose to ignore the red flags and move forward despite him being upfront about his methods from the get-go. As a result, our product suffered. His main prerogative was working on the backend, he didn’t see the value in working on the frontend, so our product was no longer customer centric. We weren’t solving our customers' problems because his approach didn’t work. He meant well put he wasn’t willing to create a product that solved our customers pain points.
When we pivoted and parted ways, our technology began to thrive. Our customers were happy and so were we because we were impacting their lives in a positive way by helping them streamline their businesses. Our product became easy to use and solved all of our customers' problems.
The moral of the story is to always be willing to learn from your mistakes. Presently, I consult and provide support to a lot of start-ups. I never pass myself off as a professional because I’m still learning, and I learn just as much from them as they do from me. I choose to never discount any ideas or pass anything off as crazy because no idea is too big. It’s all about the person behind the idea. You have to be open minded, passionate, and have a strong desire to succeed. You can overcome any obstacle with the right mindset.
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