"If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?"
Every entrepreneur is asked this question at one point or another. However, contrary to what others might think or say, after more than a decade of experience, there isn't anything I know now that I wish I knew when I started.
Although I had some relevant experience, I didn't know the mobile marketing world inside and out when I started AppLovin. My background was a mix of derivatives trading and social advertising. Mobile was still in its nascent stage — no one could know everything at that point.
A lack of knowledge or expertise shouldn't hold you back from tackling new industries when you're building a new company. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't be afraid to take on an industry you know little about.
Not being an expert can be an advantage
Once you get past the initial fear of not being an expert, questioning what you're doing, and figuring out where to start, you'll realize that starting with a clean slate in a new industry presents more opportunities than disadvantages.
For starters, you're approaching the industry with a fresh point of view, so the ideas you bring to the table are entirely different because you aren't limited by what you perceive to be possible or impossible.
Additionally, this means you'll be more open to learning from others. A favorite saying of mine is, "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." Not every piece of information you acquire is first-hand knowledge. You're supposed to learn from others, and that's no different as you're venturing into the unknown.
Accept that you don't know everything about the industry you're tackling and surround yourself with others that may know more than you do.
Mistakes are inevitable but can make you smarter
Over 80 percent of businesses fail within the first year. While unsuccessful the first time around, those same leaders who took a chance have a higher possibility of success because they failed. A study by a Stanford Graduate Business professor found that repeat entrepreneurs are more successful. That's because failure provides irreplaceable experience.
Making mistakes is more valuable than getting things right. It's making mistakes that helps you grow and mature.
I've made some huge mistakes in the past — some that resulted in failed business ventures — but it's each of those failures that taught me lessons that, to me, were more valuable than getting things right the first time. It's these failures that ultimately guided us when it was time to build AppLovin.
Furthermore, everyone makes mistakes — there's no way around it. It is, however, important to remember that mistakes don't have to define your potential as long as you are willing to learn from them. While Bill Gates is one of the most successful individuals in the technology industry, it's not widely known that prior to Microsoft he created a product called Traf-O-Data that didn't work properly. He didn't let his misstep back then get in the way of what he's built now. In fact, the lessons he learned through that mistake likely contributed to the way he successfully built Microsoft.
Mistakes are going to happen but, when you learn from them, you find even better ways to build.
Even the greatest entrepreneurs knew very little on day one
It's easy to compare your accomplishments to someone else's. In fact, one of the main reasons smart people doubt themselves is because they focus on the experiences and credentials they don't have, rather than on the ones they do.
Ideas are built from a person's curiosity and commitment to finding a solution to whatever problem they've come across, whatever problem they have a true passion to solve.
Steve Jobs once said, "Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use."
When you remove that mental barrier and focus on what value you can contribute to your projects, you're free to take on anything and everything you set your mind to.
Throughout my entrepreneurial journey I've found that the learning process is never-ending. I know more now than I did 10 years ago, but I know less today than I will in 10 more years.
Building a company doesn't mean you have to know your industry inside and out on day one. Instead, you have to surround yourself with smart people, learn from some mistakes and get rid of self-doubt. Success in the world of start-ups isn't achieved by sheer knowledge, but by being brave enough to tackle the unknown.
Adam Foroughi is the co-founder and CEO of AppLovin, a mobile marketing platform.
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