Editor's Note: The following is the fifth 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.
Dave Turner caught the entrepreneurial bug during his college years. After turning down an acceptance letter to law school, he decided to focus on business, receiving an MBA degree from Brigham University in Utah. Upon graduation, he jumped right into the tech industry working in corporate settings. This experience helped him gain the knowledge and resources to venture out on his own. GroupLink was born.
The company is a help desk and CRM-software company and has helped more than 4,000 companies worldwide. Clients include Oxford University and Georgetown University, as well as the governments of New York City and New Jersey. GroupLink has grown to profitability without any outside debt and has experienced more than 60 percent year-over-year growth. But all this success doesn't mean Turner didn't have his fair share of mistakes.
I recently caught up with Turner and had the opportunity to ask him about some of the challenges that GroupLink faced and what he learned.
His biggest mistake. When GroupLink began doing well and was hitting its stride, Turner thought it would benefit his startup to bring on executives to help lead the company through the next phase of growth. He targeted revenue producers who had a history of creating success where they’d previously been. To find these individuals and get them on board, he used resumes as a vetting tool.
Unfortunately, he didn’t screen them for a fit in the current company culture. He also didn’t question their long-term goals and values. Because of these oversights, the fit was not ideal, and it caused quite a bit of friction between his existing employees and these new hires. It actually threatened to do lasting damage on the company he built.
What he learned. Turner learned that he can’t force a cultural change on his company overnight. Any changes that affect the culture of a company need to be well thought out and a game plan for implementation needs to be established. Simply slotting in a new hire and expecting them to be a good fit and a culture builder is a flawed practice. Or thinking one person can change a company's direction isn't a wise approach.
Turner also learned that a resume does not tell you anything about who someone is as a person. It doesn’t give you insights into their willingness to work in a team, their critical thinking skills or the culture they will help build.
Advice for entrepreneurs. Turner suggests patience in hiring. He now knows that a good hire has to be not only be great for the bottom line and revenue but also the company’s culture.
That said, bringing on a “bull in a China shop” type employee isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They bring an unbridled energy with them and can be a disruptor in a good way. They can also create some of the best results when their energies are focused.
However before you let the bull loose, you have to ensure the “China” has been put away, and they don’t have the opportunity to damage anything with their antics.