Mel Taylor | Crain's Nashville

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

Mel Taylor

Background:  

Headquartered in Nashville, splitsecnd is a graduate of the city's JumpStart Foundry. Splitsecnd’s plug-in device is the only portable, automatic crash detection and notification device on the market that also doubles as a cellphone. Recently, splitsecnd negotiated a deal with Orange Business Services to install a global embedded SIM card. The splitsecnd device can now be taken anywhere in the world and it roams on the strongest network.

The Mistake:

I've made plenty of mistakes. I remember very early on I was working in a production company back in London. I had to deal with clients as agency people do, and we would be making film and television production. There's a very fine line between keeping your clients happy and sticking within the budget. There can be challenges in communication when making sure clients’ needs are met, but if they keep changing their mind, you've got to manage that somehow.

I had one of these tricky clients, and I went to my director of production and sat down all ready with the details and told him everything that had happened. He looked at me and said, "OK, that's fine. What are you going to do about it?" I just sat there blankly looking at him. I was certainly embarrassed and mortified because I didn't have an answer for my boss, and it was really the first time that somebody had put the ball back into my court like that.

We ended up sitting down with the client face-to-face to layout in thorough detail the additional things they had requested along with how it would impact their budget. It's really an educational process, and the clients usually completely understand why something like filming in a helicopter over the bank of England won't fit into their budget.

There's a very fine line between keeping your clients happy and sticking within the budget.

The Lesson:

This really taught me how to be entrepreneurial in my thinking. I learned to start thinking for myself and to come to the table with some potential solutions that we could maybe make better and find one collaboratively. That is something I learned that I have taken throughout my career and to any of the companies I have worked for.

When you face challenges in both work and home life, you need to take a deep breath and start to process what some solutions might be. It's almost the whiteboard example where you list the pros and cons and figure out the best solution. Then, you find someone whose opinion you value and take them both the problem and the recommended solutions. This shows that you're proactive and knowledgeable, and it shows that you are taking ownership of finding the solution.

Now when you speak with anyone at splitsecnd, they will tell you that when they come to me with problems and challenges, I will always ask them if they have any solutions and ask what they recommend we do. This helps people to really start to think about taking ownership of what the problem might be while also feeling confident that they may have the solution themselves.

Follow splitsecnd on Twitter at @splitsecnd.

Photo courtesy of Mel Taylor.

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