Eric Lee is the CEO of karma check and co-founder of LinkedIn.
When LinkedIn officially launched on May 5, 2003, I had no idea we were working on a project that would change the world of employment and professional networking. In those early days of social media, our vision was to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, and to do that, we wanted to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful.
By the time Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016, the site was profitable and had more than 400 million users (today there are 950 million users). During the time between its founding and acquisition, my experience at LinkedIn taught me some valuable lessons about starting and growing a modern, digital business.
Here are some things I learned along the way:
Perfect is the enemy of good
You can’t wait until you have the right vision and the right team to start building toward your goals. Most of the important learning happens when you’re well on your way to something—no matter what that thing is. If you’re familiar with the phrase, “building a plane while flying,” then you know what I’m referring to here.
Often, aspiring entrepreneurs fall into the trap of endlessly planning and refining their ideas, waiting for the right time to launch, or simply waiting until they find the right business and/or technical partner. -Don’t collect the founders. However, the truth is that there is no such thing as an ideal approach or an ideal team. Perfection is an elusive mirage that can delay your journey indefinitely. Even if your plan isn’t flawless, it’s still important to take risks, and learn from the experience as you move forward.
In the business world, you will face countless uncertainties and unexpected challenges. These are the same opportunities that force you to adapt, innovate, and grow. These opportunities are invaluable and often overlooked. If we had waited for the right time to launch LinkedIn, we might still be waiting today. Instead, I had to learn that imperfection is a natural part of the entrepreneurial process.
don’t be afraid of others
Success often comes when you are surrounded by people who are better, smarter, and more knowledgeable than you. It’s tempting to view these individuals as competitors or to feel inadequate in their presence, but this is counterproductive.
The success of your company ideally depends on the diverse expertise you acquire to deal with all the possible situations you may encounter. You are only as strong as your weakest link. When you surround yourself with a team of diverse talent and expertise, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and perspectives that can propel your business forward. Instead of feeling threatened, learn from these individuals, collaborate with them, take advantage of their strengths, and come up with the best ideas together. A diverse team can bring forth new ideas, innovative solutions and the knowledge needed to effectively tackle challenges. You don’t want sycophants, but you should embrace individuals who thoughtfully question leadership ideas.
Whenever you start a new business, never adopt the mentality of an expert, a know-it-all. You may know a lot about your industry or domain, but the landscape around you is constantly changing. The things you least expect to happen can end up confusing you. Instead, adopt a learning attitude and always remain humble. Beware of opportunities that start as a whisper and turn into a roar.
humility is necessary
In the world of entrepreneurship, you need to keep learning the whole time, and that starts with recognizing that you don’t have all the answers or need them all. Humility involves accepting your limitations and being open to new ideas and perspectives. This means treating your team members with respect and giving them credit when they perform well.
In business, the journey is full of moments that challenge your preconceptions and test your resolve. There is a constant flow of information, innovation and competition. As an entrepreneur, you must embrace humility to effectively navigate this changing landscape.
Sometimes an entrepreneur will fall into the trap of believing that he understands every situation perfectly. This kind of arrogance can lead to missed opportunities and costly mistakes. Instead, approach each challenge with humility and a willingness to listen, learn, and adapt.
Additionally, recognizing and celebrating your team’s accomplishments is paramount. No one succeeds alone, and your business is only as strong as the people who run it. When your team members perform well, acknowledge their contributions and give them the recognition they deserve. This not only promotes a positive work culture but also motivates your team to continue excellent performance.
Introduce entrepreneurship boldly but humbly
The journey of building and growing a business is an ever-evolving adventure, and perfection should not be the end goal. Accept imperfection as a natural part of the process, and don’t wait for the perfect moment to start. Surround yourself with talented individuals and see them as allies rather than threats. Develop humility, strive to continually learn, and recognize your team’s accomplishments.
By absorbing these lessons, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the dynamic world of entrepreneurship and lead your business to success, even if the path is less than perfect. Remember, the most valuable experience and insight when building an aircraft is often gained while you are flying it.
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