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Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld, David Cohen

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Chapter 29. Assume that You're Wrong

Howard Diamond

Assume that You're Wrong

Howard is the CEO and chairman of ThinIdentity Corporation, a health care identity company, and has previously served as CEO and chairman of both Corporate Software and ePartners. He has been a TechStars mentor since 2007.

Learning how to say, "I was wrong" is one of the hardest things to teach an entrepreneur. This is a real problem since most of us are often wrong despite inclinations to the contrary.

When starting or running a business, making mistakes is a given. It is often obvious that a bad decision was made and it's usually easy to correct. However, before you can correct a bad decision, you have to admit you made a bad decision; for most people that is the difficult part. As a result, it is critical to create an environment in every business in which everyone throughout the organization is comfortable admitting mistakes. For this to be effective, it has to be driven from the top.

I was a co-founder of a startup in 1990 called Course Technology. In five years, we were able to build into a successful business, with $75 million in sales and 20 percent net income. We sold the company to a large publishing group (then called ITP) and were even able to overachieve on the earn-out that was a part of the deal. That sounds great and it was.

The things that drove most of our success as we built the company were only vaguely connected to ...

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