Andrew Gowasack is CEO of Trust Stamp, a collection of 40 different micro services designed to prove identity and promote trust online. Follow him @AGowasack.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My business hero is my co-founder, Gareth. Before we started Trust Stamp, he was a friend and mentor to me and many of my peers, all while running an educational technology startup. He is a legal, business, and technological genius who has the rare quality of wanting to help and better everyone that he encounters. He challenges me every day to push my own limits and continuously reimagine what’s possible for our company.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I was once told to simply “be nice.” It seemed like a passing comment at the time, but it has created many opportunities and contributed to our success.
This ethos is different from being non-confrontational. It means striving to maximize mutual benefit with everyone you meet rather than having a zero-sum approach. We have built a company culture around random acts of kindness and cooperation. We strive to be genuine and thoughtful to everyone in our community, whether they would conventionally be regarded as important to the business or not. As a result, our team enjoys invaluable friendship and support from the majority of people who we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
One of the biggest mistakes I made was not admitting that I had made a hire that was not working. The team member was friendly and a genuine personality, but their contribution just wasn’t driving progress or delivering ROI. Rather than acknowledging the problem, I kept trying to force a fit, which simply added to the entire team’s frustration as well as that of the unsuccessful team member. Because we were in pre-launch, the loss of time and resources was acutely felt.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
My first hour is spent with the entire management team, reviewing progress and reprioritizing tasks. These meetings act as a feedback loop and have helped us seize opportunities as well as identify and mitigate risks and errors.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Research your customer before you quit your day job. Before I quit my job, my co-founder and I spent two months performing market research to learn about market size and consumer demand. This rigor has persisted in our team. Before we agree to develop a new feature or product, we perform a great deal of consumer research. You’ll be amazed at how much time and money you can save by listening to your current and potential customers!
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Sign up for Google Consumer Surveys and start learning how to obtain and evaluate consumer feedback.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success is reaching whatever goal you set out to achieve, but recognizing that goals evolve and the route to achieving them can involve unexpected deviations and require pivots. I am committed to being a lifelong serial entrepreneur, therefore my current goal is to build value so that Trust Stamp will be the first of many profitable exits.