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The Journal Gazette

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Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:00 am

Advice from Angie's List

Hiring right people vital, says local native who co-founded site

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Ideas@Work

What: Ideas@Work, an annual event that celebrates entrepreneurship in northeast Indiana. Proceeds support two of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center's flagship programs: Student Venture Lab Program and Women's Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center.

When: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive

If you go: Seating is limited and was filling quickly as of late last week but was to remain open until all seats are filled.

Registration: $250 and can be completed at www.eventbrite.com or by going to the Ideas@Work page on the innovation center website, https://theniic.org/ideas2018.

An open mind and solid team are crucial for business owners, says a Fort Wayne native whose consumer review website became a nationally known enterprise.

“You always need to be open to ideas and things that may not have been obvious to you,” said Angie Hicks, who was a co-founder of the review site Angie's List. “Don't be afraid to try (ideas), because you never know where they might lead.”

It's also important, Hicks said, to consider the people you surround yourself with, which can “make or break your success.”

Hicks is scheduled to speak Tuesday for the Northeast Indiana Innnovation Center's annual Ideas@Work event. The program, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, usually attracts about 500. Hicks presentation is titled “What Does It Mean to Be An Entrepreneur.”

Hicks co-founded Angie's List in 1995, became its chief marketing officer in May 2000 and was on its board of directors from March 2013 through its acquisition by ANGI Homeservices Inc., which connects homeowners and trusted service professionals.

She earned a bachelor of arts in economics from DePauw University, from which she received a Distinguished Alumni Award for Management and Entrepreneurship and the Robert C. McDermond Medal for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, according to her biography. She also has a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School.

Hicks has received multiple awards for her business achievements and leadership in both the community and technology field, including the TechPoint Trailblazer Award and Harvard Business School's Alumni Achievement Award in 2017.

In May 2017, Angie's List and IAC, a media and internet company that includes Vimeo, The Daily Beast and Investopedia, announced an agreement to combine IAC's HomeAdvisor and Angie's List into the new publicly traded company called ANGI Homeservices, based in Golden, Colorado.

The combined business would offer “unparalleled scale and product breadth to match homeowners with service professionals in the $400 billion domestic home services market,” the news release said.

During a telephone interview last week, Hicks said those closest to you should be able to provide guidance and support endeavors. “I think in business we spend more time deciding who to fire than who to hire,” Hicks said. Particularly when a company is small, just one hire can make a big difference.

And business owners should know what they are good at. “Be sure you're able to recognize where your weaknesses might be and be sure that you're shoring those up with the people you're bringing on board,” she said.

Developing and growing the company culture is crucial. But culture doesn't just happen, Hicks said. Businesses need practices and policies to ensure that underlying principles can guide them from a few employees to a hundred or 1,000.

Part of that requires empowering employees to make decisions and act in the best interest of customers to grow the business, Hicks said.

So how do business owners know when to step back and turn over some responsibility? Hicks said “that's a hard transition ... I think a lot of times we make that decision later than we should.”

Once the decision is made, however, business owners help others “spread their wings.” Resistance to sharing the leadership means owners “end up micromanaging, which then doesn't help the business at all.”

lisagreen@jg.net