CEO: Here's 'the biggest mistake you can make as an entrepreneur'

Debbie Sterling GoldieBloxCourtesy of GoldieBloxDebbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldieBlox.

In 2012, Stanford-educated engineer Debbie Sterling founded toy company GoldieBlox to encourage young girls to start tinkering with toys and building machines.

The first-time entrepreneur is catering construction toys to young girls in an effort to raise the percentage of female engineers in the world, which currently stands at just 14%.

So far, GoldieBlox has sold more than 1 million narrative-driven construction toy sets, created an award-winning mobile app, and landed a coveted $4 million Super Bowl spot for free.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Sterling attributed her success to one lesson she’s learned as a leader: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“I think the biggest mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is pretending that you know everything, or feeling you need to come across like you do,” Sterling said. Rather, the key is “admitting freely that I don’t know the answer to something or don’t know how to do something, so long as I seek somebody who does.”

And while her advice “sounds so simple,” Sterling said it didn’t come easy to her at first.

“I remember myself back in my early days at Stanford in some of my more complex engineering classes and really not following but being too ashamed to admit I didn’t know what was going on — so I just wouldn’t say anything,” Sterling said. She later realised that if she’d gone to her professor’s office hours for extra help or simply raised her hand in class, she would have been much better off.

Sterling said the lesson is especially valuable for girls, whose self-confidence is malleable at a young age.

“I see a lot of young women who feel so much pressure to be perfect and have it all figured out that have too much pride or they’re too ashamed to admit if they don’t get something right away,” Sterling said. “If they’re too afraid, they’re just going to shy away from it, which is sort of a recipe for not fulfilling your potential.”

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