Lior Samuelson | Crain's Washington D.C.

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

Lior Samuelson

Background:  

Based in McLean, Va., Cyren is an internet security technology company that offers web, email and anti-malware security solutions. Its GlobalView cloud security platform currently protects 550 million users in 190 countries.  

The Mistake:

I was running a company that was growing really well. It had a good, strong position that we were increasing in the market. When we saw the market changing, we knew we had to make some really powerful, new strategic acquisitions. But we were very hesitant to do that—it wasn’t easy to raise capital in those days. We told ourselves lots of stories about why it was prudent not to act, so we hesitated.

It was a huge mistake, because it ended up being the difference between having an amazing, successful company versus one that was OK. Our lack of action was expensive because our growth rate was slower after that.

Don’t let hesitation paralyze what you do strategically.

The Lesson:

You make decisions all the time, so you have to be decisive. Don’t let hesitation paralyze what you do strategically. You have to make mistakes in order to learn and get better at what you do.

When I started in the industry, a lot of emphasis was given to precise planning and processes that were very exact. There were a lot of surveys and focus groups, and the people who did that would end up as winners. Nowadays, in the space I’m in, that is absolutely not the case because things change too fast. This is an era where the product life cycle is short, so you have to take risks, be innovative and be willing to fail. Do the unthinkable that will separate you from everyone else.

Sometimes you’ll create partnerships that don’t work, or create an approach that isn’t as good as it needs to be. Recognize you’ve made a mistake, and change. If you can’t do that, you won’t be successful.

Follow Cyren on Twitter at @CyrenInc.

​Photo courtesy of Cyren.