Editor's Note: The following is the first in the series "My Biggest Mistake" in which entrepreneur and marketing expert Mike Templeman chats with fellow founders about their missteps, the lessons they learned and advice they can offer to others.
After deciding to ditch his dream of working on Wall Street, Zach Mangum, along with Chris Wright and Kevin Kirkland, decided to launch GroSocial, a social-media marketing software company located in Utah. Like other entrepreneurs, the trio had their fair share of growing pains and missteps along the way. However, in spite of their mistakes -- or rather, due to the lessons learned from their mistakes -- the team was able to attract the attention of InfusionSoft, a sales and marketing software company. In 2012, GroSocial was purchased by InfusionSoft for an undisclosed amount of money. This goes to show, that despite making mistakes, many entrepreneurs can use the lessons they learned and reach higher levels of success – as long as they continue to persevere.
We caught up with Mangum to chat about what mishaps GroSocial had, what he learned and takeaways for fellow entrepreneurs.
His biggest mistake. Mangum explains that when they were first starting off, he had such a laser focus on succeeding that he allowed business to become his sole focus. He would work long hours, then take work home with him.
“If I wasn’t thinking about work, I felt guilty,” he says.
This unceasing drive coupled with the fact he didn't want to be a failure to his family led him to be consumed by work in a quest to achieve success. He noticed he was becoming someone that “people didn’t want to be around, at times.” He would make comments to co-founders and employees that he would regret and pushed people far too hard. He was becoming abrasive. He saw his actions eroding the culture that he so desperately wanted to nurture.
Mangum knew he couldn't continue down this path, otherwise, he would implode. So he began setting a schedule that required him go home at a reasonable hour. He started telling himself and his employees to create reasons to want to be at home. If work was all they were working for, then they were failing. The shift worked. His relationships were spared, and he learned a valuable lesson.
What he learned. “Chill out. Stuff can wait. You need to work for something other than work," he says. "No one wants to be around a guy whose sole purpose is work. It makes you a boring person to be around and a difficult individual to associate with.”
Advice to other entrepreneurs. “Wanting to become an entrepreneur can feel like standing on the precipice of a cliff. You’re looking down and you see all the things that can go wrong if you start a business. It’s scary and daunting. But I would tell anyone standing there to jump, he says. "Nothing is going to happen if you just stand there. But if you jump you might get hurt, but you also might fly. Regardless of what happens, you’ll be better for it. Just do it.”