Margaret Roth | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Margaret Roth

Background:  

Baltimore-based Yet Analytics builds databases and analytic visualization systems that make it possible to compile data from multiple sources, including computers, mobile devices, sensors and wearables.

The Mistake:

This is our first year as Yet Analytics, but our team has been together for about three years. There were five of us working on what would become Yet Analytics. We were trying to figure how people learn from multiple sources across different platforms, and we kept unashamedly and rudely trying to solve this problem. We had to do this.

But we kept hearing no. "No, no, no. We are not investing in you. We're not interested in that."

It took us a really long time to realize that if you keep hearing no, it's not them, it's you. You're ideas suck and you haven't figured out what's right about them.

It took a full two years to figure that out and even then we were resisting the pivot. It took our team time to step back and have the humility to say, "What is it that we really need to accomplish? Why do people keep telling us no?"

If you keep hearing no, it's not them, it's you.

The Lesson:

You have to be able to take feedback and internalize it. You have to listen to the people around you, because if they are saying the same thing, you have to be able to step back.

When you are starting a startup, it's point A to point B; like you are going down a one-way street the whole way. There is no going backwards. You're always going forward, but it might take you the long way to get to point B. We took a lot of side streets before we embraced that pivot and said, "This is the right thing."

When it came down to it, we weren't being mission-driven. We weren't being totally honest about what we wanted to do and what our goals were.

Follow Margaret Roth on Twitter at @teachingdaisy.

Photo courtesy of Margaret Roth.

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