Never Start a Business Without Preparing For This First

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The MPW Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career? is by Carine Clark, CEO and president of MaritzCX.

In November 2014, MartizCX announced the combination of two successful yet very different companies into one. Merging two distinct cultures one a venerated 40-year old market research firm (Maritz Research), and the other a young, strapping high-tech start up (Allegiance Software) was one of the most difficult aspects of the merger. As CEO, I knew bringing these two cultures together and asking them to join in a central vision — to believe in something they may not yet be able to see clearly — was going to be a real challenge. But in order to build a new, cohesive company, I needed both divisions to successfully come together as one.

See also: The Quality That Destroys So Many Good Leaders

To do this, I first recognized the value and experience of the people at Maritz Research, some of whom had been with the company 20+ years, to harvest their wisdom. Next, we invested heavily in defining and communicating our core values to all employees. This investment has paid off. However, we had to work fast, which in some cases meant getting rid of the non-believers. As technology and consumer preferences are changing the way we do business, it’s my job as CEO to steer the newly formed company in a direction that meets the needs of our customers today and in the future. We encouraged innovative thinking from day one by having a culture of openness and transparency.

The core elements of both organizations — quality, trust, and innovation — still prevail. But the speed in which we react has never been quicker. As we continue to watch the marketplace and our competitors, we have to constantly envision new possibilities for our customers. Many industries are facing disruption and change today, but in my opinion you only have two options: stare at the ground and stand still, or tackle the opportunity in front of you.

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