By Ilana Greene and Ellen Feldman
What’s the worst thing an entrepreneur can do? Not listen, according to Chicago entrepreneur Adam Fridman.
“We – I am including myself on purpose – get excited about an idea and we fire. Pausing to listen to advice seems a waste of time,” he said.
Fridman would know. He founded three Chicago companies, making him a prominent entrepreneur in the Windy City startup community.While earning his Master's degree in finance from the Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at Depaul University in 2003, Adam founded Idea2Result, a Chicago based, B2B appointment setting staffing company. Following the success of Idea2Result, Adam co-founded GoBumper in 2010, a company specializing in providing VIP rewards and other exclusive perks for bumper stickers that express brand loyalty to their corporate partners. Building on the reputation he earned in the Chicago entrepreneurial community with these ventures, in 2012, Adam founded MeetAdvisors.Com, a website specializing in social media entrepreneurial networking opportunities between professionals with expertise and those seeking expert business advice.
Fridman considers his corporate finance degree and experience to be both a help and a hindrance. On one hand, finance helped him to understand analytics and develop discipline, but on the other hand, the corporate structure stifles creativity and innovation, he said.
In giving advice to other entrepreneurs, Fridman emphasized the importance of strategy in addition to product: “‘Build it and they will come’ is a dream, mostly, and companies flooded with users and media are an exception to the rule.”
And Fridman admits his favorite startup example is Facebook, “as cliché as it sounds”. Facebook met an unanswered and more importantly, formerly unrecognized, need for humans to be more connected to each other. Mark Zuckerberg identified something that people were wanting more of, though they didn’t necessarily know how to address that need until Facebook came along, Fridman said.
But most startups will not rise to Facebook’s level. And Fridman advised that the biggest mistake entrepreuneurs make is “marginalizing the value of advice from the right professional at every milestone from idea incubation. … We only want to hear what supports our often euphoric feeling that only allows praise through, and we push forward,” he said. Listening promotes success.
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