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Today’s Question: Which of your failures has taught you the most as an entrepreneur? Why?
The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.
1. Missing an important Deadline
I once failed to deliver a new product to our largest customer within the deadline we had promised. This taught me the true drawbacks of over-promising and under-delivering. I had turned a blind eye to the challenges of developing a new moringa supply chain in Haiti and creating an entirely new product that we had planned to launch nationwide in January. When the product finally landed on shelves in late February after we had paid extra to expedite our manufacturing and shipping, I learned that is far more expensive to do things quickly than it is to invest time in doing things right.
— Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli
2. Mismanaging My Resources
When you can take a failure and turn it into a positive, regardless of the outcome, you’re winning.
From 2009-2012, I ran a marketing agency that had a tremendous amount of potential, but we ultimately had to shut our doors because we mismanaged our time, cash flow, and resources. I had started a business while never really learning how to manage a business.
— Steven Picanza, Latin & Code
3. Not Trusting Myself
I like to think of my failures the way Thomas Edison though of his: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Each step brought me closer to where I am today.
The biggest “failure” was listening to others rather than my inner self on the strategic direction of things. People share based on their experience, and it’s good to keep them in mind. Ultimately, though, I should have gone with my gut being in uncharted territory.
— Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
4. Failing to Follow Up
In the beginning, we failed to establish a system for following up with clients and establishing their levels of satisfaction. As a result, we were getting negative reports of our business through other channels. We had to quickly remedy the issue in order to reestablish positive relationships with our former and future clients. A solid feedback system reflects well on us and allows for correction when necessary.
— Ajmal Saleem, Suprex Learning
5. Not Keeping Up With Trends
I didn’t recognize it right away, but a major shift in technology in the medical industry almost wiped us out. We kept sponsoring medical society events, paying for booths at the conferences, and joining more medical boards. About 18 months after bringing in our last new client from those efforts, I finally realized we should be concentrating on legal transcription and law-enforcement transcription.
— Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
6. Getting Caught Up in the Hype
It’s easy to lose a sense of reality and get caught up in hype, whether it’s due to sudden media exposure or a big investor coming in to back you. It’s really important to iterate on your plan and periodically question your assumptions to ensure that the foundation the business is standing on is really there.
— Arry Yu, GiftStarter.com
7. Working Hard, But Not Necessarily Smart
I’ve found a lot of entrepreneurs – myself included – essentially try to conquer the world at the start of their careers. They take on too much work, and as a result, they end up burning out (or nearly burning out). That happened to me when I was first starting out. Luckily, I recovered and learned the importance of understanding that working smart is more important than working hard.
— Steven Buchwald, The E2 Visa Lawyer