In this second part of a two-part interview, Steven Dziedzic, founder and CEO of Hoppit.com, shares his journey in beginning a startup company. See part one of the interview with Dziedzic here.

What mistake have you made as an entrepreneur that you learned from?
Not focusing.

The first version of Hoppit had an incredibly wide focus—it was for every U.S. city, big and small, and it allowed users to search for not just restaurants and bars, but hotels, retail stores, fitness centers, etc. That was a colossal mistake. No one uses a product with fifty features that are just okay. Consumers use a product with one feature that is amazing. So, we ended up redesigning the app with a tight focus.

Have you made any life choices that help you stay balanced as you run a new company?
One thing I’ve learned about starting a company is that it can be absolutely crushing. When the clock strikes midnight, there are a thousand more things that I could do for Hoppit. In fact, there are probably ten thousand things I could do. Founders need to realize that rest is just as important as hard work. I’ve made it a point to have an entire day of rest every week, which has proved to be invaluable. It’s easy to burn out, and it’s easy to get frustrated. Rest solves that. Even more importantly, I find that my best ideas come to me on my rest day.

How do you seek the good of your employees in the midst of a busy and competitive environment?
Some of my greatest joys are caring for my employees and cultivating a culture of openness and innovation. It’s difficult for a startup to maintain a good work-life balance because of the ruthlessly competitive market, but there are lots of [ways we can foster this balance].

One is flexibility with time. We’re a software company, so our employees create their own work schedules. As long as the work gets done, it gets done.

Another is flexibility with roles. Within a startup, if you’re passionate about a particular role or area, the opportunity is there to explore it because so much needs to get done.

Finally, perhaps the greatest thing about a startup is that you get to create something new, and our employees find this incredibly satisfying. Ultimately, flexibility, passion, and creativity fuel this company.

As an entrepreneur, what books have you read that have influenced you the most?
The most influential book along the road has been Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen. For any entrepreneur, it points out why startups have a fighting chance against the big guys and how you can innovate in ways [the big companies] can’t. Very inspirational for the underdog. My team also read the “Startup Genome Project” report together, and of course no list would be complete without The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

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