Any entrepreneur who is active in the startup community is continuously warned about mistakes made by fellow entrepreneurs, and how to avoid them. Rarely are we ever told about the mistakes we SHOULD make. The inevitable truth is that you can't learn to run without first stumbling. Those failed steps help an entrepreneur not only fine-tune his or her startup's vision, but also assist in understanding one's own possibilities and limitations. Ultimately it's not the mistakes we make that are so relevant but more the invaluable learning we get from them. So here are three mistakes that you should make when just starting up that can actually create important changes for your company's future:
1. Make a bad hire (early on)
While everyone will warn you against those "bad" candidates, it's never easy determining whether a candidate is a good or bad fit simply through an interview process. This is particularly harder for startups, who are always in desperate need of resources and don't have a formal HR process in place. But actually hiring someone who is a poor fit forces the founder to think about what values are really important in the organization.
Actually hiring someone who is a poor fit forces the founder to think about what values are really important in the organization.
For every bad hire you make, there is a strong foundational learning about the type of culture your company has, the kind of performance metrics you need to put in place, and the screening criteria that is implemented during the interview process. So the next time you beat yourself up about that bad hire, turn the situation in your favour and think deep and hard about what's important to you as a founder.
2. Try everything
We're always advised as entrepreneurs to stay focused on our vision. While this is definitely true, it applies best once you've actually figured out the basic nuts and bolts of the business. Initially, trying out a few different approaches to solve a problem, experimenting with different marketing channels and customers can help build agility in the company -- a quality that is hugely beneficial as you scale. Agility helps a founder think and act laterally and create an "out of the box" culture within the organization.
3. Say yes to your customers
Customer satisfaction is simply a function of a customer's expectations and their actual experience. When we're just starting off, it's a natural tendency for a company to over-promise the customer, especially when you want to get those first few sales off the ground. While some may view this as a mistake, my personal view is that saying yes to customers initially gives you an opportunity to test out the effectiveness of your available resources and also budget for any additional requirements. The key, however, is quickly learning how to optimize those resources so that you don't get caught in a rut of over-promising and under-delivering.
Growing a business is a journey, and making mistakes when we are starting off makes it easier to plan and execute the right path towards success. Mistakes are not only inevitable, but they are also crucial for a business. So don't find fear in failure, find a new learning.