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My Biggest Mistake: Trusting the Wrong People

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Editor's Note: The following is the second 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.

Ben Peterson, the CEO of BambooHR, a human-resources software company, is your average guy.  He goes to work in a polo and slacks and often wears a baseball cap around the office.  He’s the head of a company that boasts dozens of employees and has clients the likes of Pinterest, Shopify and  And while the company has grown to include hundreds of companies in 70 different countries, along with seeing triple-digit growth, Peterson's entrepreneurial journey had its fair share of mistakes.

We caught up with Peterson to chat about what mishaps Bamboo HR had, what he learned and takeaways for fellow entrepreneurs.

His biggest mistake. In Peterson’s words, people are the best thing about business, yet, they can also be the worst thing. They will provide you with the greatest victories and profits but also cause you the biggest headaches and losses.

While he doesn’t come straight out and say that trusting the wrong people was his biggest mistake, it becomes apparent as he explain a painful memory, that this was indeed his blunder.

Related: 3 Ways Owning Your Mistakes Will Make You Powerful

He emphasizes that you have to be selective of people -- not just in hiring, but also in partnerships, investments and every other aspect of business. 

For instance, Peterson made some bad choices in the people he decided to do business with.  These decisions led him to experience some of his lowest moments in his business career.  However, he did take a lesson from those mistakes.

What he learned. Peterson’s mistakes ended up costing him money -- lots of it. 

Those more experienced than him would say, “You’re paying for your education with those mistakes, Ben.” To which he thought, “That’s a really expensive education.”

What Peterson learned was he needed to be slower to act and more receptive to listening.  By taking the time to know the people he was doing business with, he became better equipped to make critical decisions that impacted his company’s success.

He now considers listening one of his stronger attributes.  He listens, learns, and tries to take in as much information before he makes a decision on someone or something.

Advice for other entrepreneurs. Peterson suggests that entrepreneurs consume as much information as possible.  Read, listen and learn as much as you can: Information mitigates risk.  

Related: My Biggest Mistake: Falling Into the 24/7 Trap

Mike Templeman

Written By

Mike Templeman is the CEO of Foxtail Marketing, a digital-content marketing firm specializing in B2B SaaS. He is passionate about tech, marketing and small business.  When not tapping away at his keyboard, he can be found spending time with his kids.