I would be lying if I said I didn’t make any mistakes on my startup journey, but I wouldn’t change those mistakes. They’ve helped me learn and grow as an entrepreneur, and they’ve definitely taught me some important lessons, even more so than some of my accomplishments. Mistakes and misjudgments are inevitable, but it’s how you respond to those mistakes and overcome them that ultimately matters. One thing I wish I would have known before starting my company is that mistakes are definitely going to happen, but that it’s okay because those mistakes teach you the most important startup lesson: Be adaptable.
I have been on the receiving end of the phrase, “Well, you didn’t know what you didn’t know” many times, and it’s natural to feel frustration and even regret after mistakes play out with negative consequences. And while it’s important to recognize your mistakes, it’s even more imperative not to dwell on them or harbor negativity. Optimism is so vital to the entrepreneur psyche, and spending too much time thinking about adverse decisions can hinder creativity and the ability to adapt. When an entrepreneur doesn’t have the ability to adapt quickly, it can obstruct the growth of a business.
Not only is it important for an entrepreneur to be adaptable, but it’s equally necessary to surround yourself with a team that’s amenable to change and can switch directions quickly. There are many things I wish I knew before starting my business, but one of them is that people with experience aren’t always the right fit, especially in a rapidly changing industry like sports technology. While experience can be an asset in many cases, I would take skill and intelligence over someone with experience. The startup environment can be rocky, and one that’s full of surprises. When selecting your team, go with your gut and choose people who fit the vision you have for your company. Don’t choose people simply because they have experience.
When hiring, I focus on finding employees who are ambitious, creative, and flexible. People who have a this-is-the-way-it’s-always-worked mentality are definitely not a fit for my company and likely won’t be a fit for most startups. When forming the foundation for a new team, employees need to be open to new ideas. I find that young employees are more adaptable because they have grown up in an environment that is constantly changing, much like startup environments.
In business, there is something I call “the known unknown,” which is an understanding that unforeseen events and variables are part of the rough terrain of the modern business landscape—all you can do is be prepared and adapt quickly.