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How to build a start-up that changes the world: don’t overthink it

Leah Busque CEO and founder of TaskRabbitLeah Busque CEO and founder of TaskRabbit
Leah Busque CEO and founder of TaskRabbit

In 2008 Leah Busque was an engineer at IBM with an idea. She wanted to start a website that would match people with work. She left her job and cashed out her IBM pension to start TaskRabbit, where people can sign up to do odd jobs. Today over 30,000 people use TaskRabbit, and some are able to make a full-time living from their TaskRabbit jobs.

Earlier this week, Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky moderated a panel with a group of startup founders, including Leah Busque. After the panel a man told Busque that TaskRabbit work got one of his friends off of the streets when he was homeless.

Busque answered a few questions about the making of TaskRabbit.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity.]

Fortune: What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a founder?

Busque: Transitioning from building a world-class product to building a world-class company has been the biggest and most rewarding challenge in my journey as a founder. When I was bootstrapping what was known as runmyerrand.com in 2008, my skills as a former engineer at IBM helped me build an idea into a tool people actually wanted to use –even rely on– in their daily lives. As the product blossomed, I had to start entrusting others to improve that same product I had coded myself. There was a fundamental shift in the way I needed to approach each day. Today, whether I’m focused on fundraising, marketing, financing or operations, I’m still supporting that initial passion that inspired the creation of TaskRabbit.

Fortune: What’s the one thing you wished you knew eight years ago when you first began this journey?

Busque: Don’t overthink it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When I was first starting out, more decisions than I care to admit seemed like life-or-death situations, when in reality, each choice has brought TaskRabbit closer to building the strongest business and community possible. When we stumbled, I witnessed the company learn and grow into an even better version of itself. I rely on data and gut in a more balanced way today than ever before.

Fortune: What’s been your biggest mistake?

Busque: There is not one “biggest mistake” I’ve made, only choices where I’ve learned the most. Team building and hiring can be one of the most complicated parts of founding a company. I enjoy the perspective of Adam Grant, Wharton Business School professor and author of Give and Take. He has identified a more scientific system for finding the perfect hire that appeals to the engineer in me. But no system is perfect, and prioritizing “culture-fit” as a key factor in my personal system for hiring has become increasingly important. As a founder and CEO, editing the team is necessary and making quick decisions is critical for the integrity of the team.

Fortune: If you were to start another startup, what is the one thing you would not do?

Busque: The business you found can more or less feel like your baby. But eventually, you need to be open to letting the business grow with the help of other brilliant people. Finding partners — even cofounders — that believe in the product as much as you do can be an important step to take in helping your business reach its fullest potential. These people should complement your skill set and function as a trusted cadre who can share ideas with each other.

Fortune: What’s the one piece of advice you would give up and coming startups?

Busque: Find your mentors because you can’t do it all on your own. Scott Griffith, [Editor’s note: then CEO of Zipcar] became one of my early mentors since founding TaskRabbit. He offered me desk space in the Zipcar office when I moved from Boston, and later introduced me to future investors. To this day, we are able to soundboard ideas off one another and learn from each other’s mistakes as each of our companies grow.

Fortune: What’s next for TaskRabbit? What can we expect from TaskRabbit this year?

Busque: 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for TaskRabbit. We’re going to expand into new markets across the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. Several significant business partnerships will also drive a new scale of activity across the marketplace. ​