Jim Murphy | Crain's Philadelphia

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

Jim Murphy


Based in King of Prussia, Penn., Greenphire develops clinical trial payment solutions designed to streamline payment processes from sponsors and contract research organizations to sites and patients.

The Mistake:

There was this situation where I was running a business, and we were doing very well in our patterns, activities and commercial development. At the same time, the marketplace was evolving around me, and I could see a growth opportunity emerging. My three options, then, were: Ignore it, dabble or go big. And ... I just dabbled. I knew it was a place we wanted to focus, but I didn’t make a deep commitment to it. So I sold the concept, but just didn’t secure the magnitude of commitment that was necessary. We didn’t make much progress.

As a result, I’d weakened the confidence of my leadership team. Certainly, we were doing very well in the business, and continued to, but I realized that the next time I wanted to pursue an idea or increase our bet in an idea we were already pursuing, it was going to be harder because  I wasn’t able to show measurable gains in the previous one.

Either stay focused on your core or trust your instincts and make a bet.

The Lesson:

When you have a growth opportunity before you, sometimes dabbling is the worst of the three options. It’s better to just ignore the opportunity and channel all of your energy into your core business. Shore up your credibility and use it when you really need it, rather than make a small investment that won’t make meaningful progress, and will cause you to lose internal credibility with your board or your executive team.

The lesson here is: Either stay focused on your core or trust your analysis and your instincts and make a bet. I get it—when you’re a younger executive, you’re trying to do everything through analysis and you don’t want to make mistakes. But you forget there’s a reason why you’ve been successful. Sure, it’s a combination of analysis and problem solving, but it’s also instinct and judgment. Young executives aren’t always willing to trust their own judgment or have deep convictions for a concept they believe to be right.

Sometimes you have to make a big bet, because rarely are you going to accomplish something mighty or significant just by dipping your toe in the water.

Follow Greenphire on Twitter at @GreenphireINC.

Photo courtesy of Greenphire.