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'That's usually how businesses succeed'

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Aaron Levie, chief executive of file-sharing application Box, recalls when the company didn’t know which way to go—peer-to-peer or cloud-based file-sharing.

Employees wanted to build two competing models. Mark Cuban, an early investor, advised Box not to hedge its bets.

“It’s counterintuitive,” Levie says. “You learn not to put all your eggs in one basket.”

However, “If you hedge, you take away resources from one activity for another, so it dramatically decreases your chance of succeeding” in either venture. “We had only a few people, and it was hard to run two product lines. We decided to shut down peer-to-peer and focus on the cloud.”

He explains further: “Success really only comes when you nail one thing. … It requires honesty and clarity to focus, but that’s usually how businesses succeed.”

— Adapted from “The best advice I ever got,” Aaron Levie interviewed by Ellen Florian, Fortune.

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