We just past the 1 year mark here at Ideal Candidate and it’s been a great ride so far! After our first startup was acquired, we went to work on Ideal Candidate almost immediately after the dust settled. Although we are second time entrepreneurs, we’ve made a bunch of mistakes (and will continue to do so). I wanted to focus on some of the mistakes we made as I find I actually learn a lot from both our failures and successes. We probably learn more from our mistakes, to be honest.
So without further ado, here’s our top 3 list of first year startup fails we’ve made.
1. Using our past success as a template
We underestimated how different two businesses are from each other. We assumed that because both companies are B2B SaaS, a lot of the lessons learned from our first company would automatically translate to our new company. A good example of this was to blindly purchase Pardot for the year because it worked so well for our first company. I have nothing against Pardot, but in hindsight, we didn’t need to spend $12k to get Pardot before we were ready for it.
Lesson learned: Although past experience helps, don’t just blindly repeat what you did. Always experiment and iterate.
2. Not enough in-person meetings
I can’t stress enough the importance of in-person meetings. Networking events, trade shows, wherever you can meet people in person makes a huge difference in fostering a real relationship. I found we started relying too heavily on email. Although email is a powerful tool, meeting people in person and telling them about your product works wonders, especially at the early stages of a company. People are also much more willing to open up their connections once they meet you in person. The connections we’ve made in person have made a huge impact on our business.
Lesson Learned: Stop hiding behind email and meet people in person!
3. Not always recruiting
You’d think by running a company that helps companies recruit sales people, we wouldn’t make the mistake of not constantly looking out for great talent. In a startup, even if you aren’t hiring for a position right now, you should always be looking. Things change so fast that you need a readily available pipeline of talent. In our case, we didn’t realize the need for a product manager until recently and we had a very small pipeline of candidates. We should have foreseen this and constantly be looking for the right people. Although we aren’t ready for a VP of Marketing or VP of Sales, we’re going to keep our eyes open for people that might fit in a year or two.
Lesson Learned: ABR – Always Be Recruiting to meet your present and future talent needs.
Are we going to make more mistakes? Of course we are. We just plan to make them quickly, learn from them, and improve.
What mistakes have you made in your first year?
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