Ask an UXpert: What’s the One Thing You Wish You Knew When You Started Your Own Business?

by Sheena Lyonnais

posted on 04-03-2017

No matter how much research and time you put into launching your own business, the world of entrepreneurship is notorious for throwing curveballs. It’s nearly impossible to acquire 20/20 vision beforehand, I mean, how can you anticipate challenges you didn’t know to look for?

We reached out to a group of user experience design experts who have flourished in the world of entrepreneurship to share some insight with us about their experiences, asking them, “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your own business?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Consider the “two truths” of hiring and decision-making

There are two “truths” that I take for granted now, but wish I knew when I first started Behance. They can both be expressed quite simply:

  1. Initiative > Experience
  2. Conviction > Consensus

When hiring, I thought the best candidates were the ones with the most experience, but I learned that people with initiative (and a genuine interest in the problem we’re solving) are often more productive and committed than those with the most experience. When your team has enough initiative, they can learn or work their way out of any corner. And when you’re truly innovating, experience can backfire.

When making decisions earlier in my career I always strived for consensus, but I learned that conviction is ultimately what distinguishes you in this world. Now, I do everything possible to gather data and consult colleagues, but I listen to my gut more than anything else.

~ Scott Belsky, Founder, Behance; Author/Investor; Venture Partner @ Benchmark

Do one thing really well instead of ten things poorly

When we started Remix, we quickly found that the product could serve so many different types of users—urban planners, local governments, transportation consultants, advocacy groups, civic non-profits, neighborhood associations, universities and students, the list goes on and on. We initially started working with all of them, building a product to support every question and feature request we received, excited to help the transit community at-large. What we soon realized was that by trying to serve all of those different users at the same time, we ended up serving no one. Every single user type had a unique use case, requiring a slightly different feature set for different goals.

We sat down as a founding team and made the really tough decision to design for just one kind of user: local governments. That way, we could focus our limited resources on building one thing really well: a planning platform to help cities plan better public transit. Our product prioritization list became much tighter, and much more aligned with the needs of local governments who are in charge of planning and delivering transit as a public service.

Now, over 200 cities worldwide are using Remix as their planning platform for transit — from Oakland to Miami to Melbourne to Reykjavik — and those cities are improving transit networks that serve millions of people. If we hadn’t made that tough decision, we wouldn’t have nearly as much impact today.

We’re still excited to build all of the other things on our product roadmap in the future, but at the beginning, it’s all about focus.

~ Tiffany Chu, Cofounder, Remix

Community really is everything

I started Orbital as a vessel to enable me to explore ideas rather than as a container for one specific business idea. I’d come to appreciate space as a catalyst for community, and knew that community would be vaguely important to any projects I decided to pursue.

When I look back on the past three years, every program we’ve run at Orbital was made possible because of the community here. They’ve made it easy for me to get the feedback, dialogue and support needed to move my ideas forward.

And so, what started out as a hunch has turned into a fundamental tenet—that to be successful, creators need access to interdependent networks aligned with their aspirations. It’s where you start, and everything you need derives from that.

~ Gary Chou, Founder, Orbital

Are you a UX designer turned entrepreneur? What were some early lessons you learned? Please share with our community of designers in the comments below.

Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends, Design

Products: Creative Cloud