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First-year as an entrepreneur - Here are my top 10 favorite fuck-ups

First-year as an entrepreneur - Here are my top 10 favorite fuck-ups

I am leaving for the summer holidays next week. 1 month of full relaxation and no work.

We officially launched TalentBee on the 5th of August in 2022, so I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect all the fuck-ups from the journey.

Next week I will share my top 10 successes

Fuck-up number 1: Not focusing enough on things

I have this bad habit of coming up with new ideas all the time. At the same time, it's one of my biggest strengths.

I think we would have come a long way with TalentBee if we would have a super clear focus.

It's funny because we wrote down 3 focus points to the first year:

  1. Employee Experience
  2. MRR
  3. Building TalentBee brand

We have succeeded in all of these at some level, but if we would have said no to a lot of other things, I think we would be in a better situation.

Fuck-up number 2: Not focusing enough on customer feedback

I think the main reason for this is that our customers have been happy, giving us reference stories and recommending us to others.

But we have forgotten them in our process development.

We have been building a lot of things like:

-Nice Retro decks to go through after a recruitment project

-Cool Talent Acquisition Playbook

And yes we have asked our customers if they have liked those, but I think we should have gone way deeper.

Where they got the most value, where they didn't get the value.

It's harder to scale in a profitable way if we are not finding this one out.

I think it's also crucial to understand that every time the customers don't know what they want, --> Don't focus on the solution ideas from them, but rather focus on their problems.

Fuck-up number 3: No clear packaging

This is weird because I think that our packaging is way better than most of our competitors, but still, I'm not happy with this.

This comes a lot to our service/product strategy and what we want to offer for our customers.

When we started TalentBee, we thought we would only sell Talent Acquisition as a service with a monthly subscription model.

The market has shifted a lot, and it means that we have also had to sell some one-off projects, but still, around 50% of our revenue is recurring revenue.

We have struggled a lot to package the talent acquisition as a service.

It includes:

-Urgent hiring needs

-Building Talent Pipelines

-Strategic Talent Acquisition & process development

-Employer Branding

All with a monthly subscription. The hard part is that we don't want to sell hours but rather the value for the customer, and identifying the value points are hard. And making it a win-win for us and the customer.

Fuck-up number 4: Marketing has become ad-hoc

We have built a somewhat successful brand in the first year of operating.

Or at least we still get inbound leads & get a lot of feedback around this.

The big challenge with this is that no one is really owning the marketing, but everyone is doing it as a "side hustle" while their main role is something else.

I believe that if we would have a clear marketing strategy and playbook with clear weekly actions, we could have gotten even better results from our marketing.

Fuck-up number 5: Demanding too much from our people

This is my first time being a CEO in a growing company.

There have been, of course, a lot of learnings regarding sales, marketing, financials, etc, but I think the biggest learnings and fuck ups have been around people and what you can demand from them.

The problem with this is that I'm not personally "normal":

-I don't feel stressed from work (something really bad needs to happen that affects me).

-I am fast in execution: I think it's a combination of just being fast in things and this "better done than perfect mentality"

Additionally to those being a founder of a company is, of course, different from being an employee.

I think the biggest learnings around this are:

  1. You need to be clear in your expectations towards your people.
  2. Remember that you can't expect as much from employees that you can from yourself.

Fuck-up number 6: Not being active enough with our customer work

I've noticed that good things typically happen when I join some customer calls.

I think the key here is that I'm an outsider who can see the bigger picture better, and typically we can open up some up-sell potential from there.

Most of our team aren't experts in sales, and I need to support them in this even more.

I'm quite sure that we would have sold more to our current customers if I would have been better supported there.

The reason why I've chosen not to participate that much is that I believe that in the long run, our experts should be able to do the add-on sales themselves --> That's the only way to really scale the company.

Fuck-up number 7: Expecting that people ask for help if they need help

This has been a hard one for me and still is. Why? Because I typically ask for help when I need it, but I've learned that most people don't do it that much.

Simple question: Is there something I can help you with a great tool for leadership?

Fuck-up number 8: It's about leading people, not things.

I'm not a great people leader. I'm a great process leader.

There are a lot of benefits to that, but if you are the CEO of a company --> You need to also be a great people leader.

I'm quite sure that I will personally become a growth bottleneck for TalentBee at some point because of this and that Siiri or Saara will take over as a CEO.

I still remember when I understood this.

I was in Sweden for a conference, and I hadn't talked with Siiri for a while.

We typically call each other if we need help with something.

I called her and said that I didn't need any help or any information but just wanted to call and ask what was going on.

She said it was nice.

I should do it more. You should as well if you are a leader.

Fuck-up number 9: Not having enough focus time on the most important things

I think every CEO should book a lot of focus time for days - to work on the most important projects non-stop for a few hours.

I have noticed that having a calendar where you a random meeting every now and there creates a challenge with this.

Every time I have a focus time, e.g., for 4 hours, I get things moving forward so fast.

If there's a 30-minute break between meetings it's easily just chilling on LinkedIn or checking email or Slack messages.

More focus time = more results.

Fuck-up number 10: Not understanding customers' needs in sales cases

A year ago, I had no experience in the recruitment industry.

Luckily I have two co-founders who have.

I have done sales my whole life, so getting new customers in was quite easy.

But the biggest challenge here has been regarding handovers to teams and the expectations.

I should have discussed with customers more about their expectations towards talent acquisition - what kind of results they can expect and when.

Ps. We are hosting TalentBee's 1-year birthday party in Helsinki after the summer, and you are warmly welcome! Send me a message if you want to hear more 🙌