OpenTable Founder Chuck Templeton Shares Entrepreneurial Lessons

Photo of Chuck Templeton by Jenna Zitaner.

Every business should have an impact, at least in Chuck Templeton’s mind.

“My current B-HAG [Big Hairy Audacious Goal] is, you know, how do we help. I want every business, actually to address issues,” says the OpenTable founder to a crowd at 1871.

He is working towards that goal as managing director at Impact Engine, an accelerator for social or environmentally-minded companies.

Templeton spoke to attendees at an event organized by Chicago Lean Startup. Sharing his entrepreneurial lessons, he discussed lessons that he has learned from his experiences at a number of companies.

His first tip to entrepreneurs was about cautious planning.

“The number one reason I see businesses fail, certainly start-ups fail, is time horizon… You know you always hear that, at the end, things take twice as long to happen or cost twice as much to promote.”

Much of Templeton’s advice involves planning and saving money. He is a big fan of Ben Franklin, who was known for being frugal, but industrious. “And when you’ve got cash in the bank, you just have more options.”

Beyond frugality, Templeton advocates for a mindset of embracing the stressors and challenges that come to a business.

“Let the pain of the business growth catch up to you, or pass it. I think stressors are good for business, they build character,” he says. “I think this is good personally, too, if you can get through those pain points you are stronger for it down the road and it makes a really big difference. That’s where, again, it’s more about mindset – I can guarantee that most of the companies, you see the highlights, you don’t see all the lowlights, the struggles they went through.”

He also discusses trends that he is witnessing in business and consumer culture – most deal with increased sustainability.

According to Templeton, businesses are shifting from a ‘value chain’ to a ‘value cycle,’ with reuse built into production, and consumption is moving from a marketing economy of individual ownership to a sharing economy. Templeton also discussed dematerialization, and the concentration of services to few devices, as well as a shift from centralized to distributed business models.

“There’s a tremendous amount of evidence that the rate of change is increasing the way businesses are built,” he says. “The way that businesses are looking at the world is also shifting – not just in a tree hugger way, there are also good economic reasons for why things are shifting.”

You can be sure that Templeton will, most likely, be ready when that happens. ❒

[Photo of Chuck Templeton by Jenna Zitaner. © Blackline Review.]

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