Craig Pearson | Crain's Charlotte

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

Craig Pearson


Founded in 2015, Private Wealth Systems is a global financial technology company that provides financial software and data management services to family offices, private banks, institutional asset managers, and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Private Wealth Systems is based in Charlotte and has clients in the United States, Switzerland, U.A.E., Canada, Panama, and the United Kingdom.

The Mistake:

Not focusing harder on our global marketing strategy.

When Private Wealth Systems got started, I wanted to quickly get into the market with a website to say, “Here we are!” despite being pre-product, pre-client and pre-revenue. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to build the website. And several months later, were asked to be featured on “Worldwide Business with Kathy Ireland.” So I went on, and the feedback was positive.

After we built the product and moved the business forward, however, the company shifted in a way that didn’t quite resemble the image portrayed by our website. I thought, “That’s fine, we’ll redo the website later. For now, I’m going to focus on sales and power through it.”

The weight of my mistake didn’t hit me until a few months ago, when a person told me that they had referred a very large global prospect to us – but that the prospect decided against speaking to us after reviewing our website. This potential client would have been worth $200,000 in annual revenue. Our website had pushed them away because it suggested we couldn’t provide a service they needed, even though we actually could.

That was a material “aha” moment.

I should have been more strategic than tactical.

The Lesson:

Because the current site reflects what we were three years ago, we’re going to have to redo the website – meaning that, by the time it’s all done, we’ll have spent about double the amount we would have spent if we waited. As a startup, that hurts.

Had I waited until after we built our company and its platform to launch a website, we would be seeing a very different return on investment today. Unfortunately, for every sale we make, I’d say we lose five because of the website.

If I could go back in time, I would have spent more time planning out our global market strategy, and taken a step back to think, “Why would we build a website to promote a product we haven’t even built yet?”

I should have been more strategic than tactical.

When you’re tactical, you feel that force will get you through any obstacle; even when equipped with only a toothbrush, you believe you can knock down a brick wall with enough force. But sometimes a brick wall is a brick wall, and you need to plan ahead so you don’t encounter that brick wall in the first place.

Follow Private Wealth Systems on Twitter at: @wealthreporting

Photo courtesy of Private Wealth Systems

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's.