6 min read

It's ok to fuck up! Failures mean that we are doing something new

It's ok to fuck up! Failures mean that we are doing something new
Photo by Nong V / Unsplash

What a learning journey it's been so far, founding our new business. We are doing SaaS talent acquisition in a new way and finding ways to do things even better. At the same time we are building our own processes and figuring out how to become the best workplace for the future colleagues.

And oh boy, have we fucked up so many times already!

And oh boy, have we fucked up so many times already! It's ok. Just make sure you learn from those failures.

We have written down our values. One of them says it's ok to fuck up. Other says take transparency to a new level.

So here we go. Here are nine fuck ups we have done so far!

#1 Wasted a candidate's time in recruitment. (Like really, a lot.)

It all started around four weeks ago when we began the discussion with one potential candidate to join TalentBee. We thought she would have been an excellent add-on to our Employer Branding team.

We had a total of 6 discussions with her, including:

  1. First intro call
  2. Discussing our Employer Branding services
  3. Discussing her strengths & what she would like to do next

At this stage, we had some concerns regarding her motivation & and whether she would be a great culture fit for us. We talked about those with her and decided to continue the process.

4. She presented our case task & we gave her feedback
5. We had a session to discuss a few of our concerns & re-did part of the task to get an even better understanding of the person
6. We presented the person with a growth plan & what kind of role she could join us

We weren't still sure. We had our concerns.

However. We weren't still sure. We had our concerns. We discussed the thing, and all of us founders' thoughts she isn't the best fit for us & we aren't the best fit for her.

I feel like we wasted so much of her time.

We used a lot of our own time for this as well. But I don't think they are wasted hours. We just need to learn from this thing. Here's what I learned:

  1. Candidates' motivation towards us is crucial for us when making a hiring decision.
  2. If you have any doubts, figure them out first before moving forward.
  3. Make sure you have a clear must-have for each profile you are looking for. Something we always do for our customers but skipped in our case.

#2 Thought I can create a website by myself.

I've been selling a lot of websites in the past. For some weird reason, I thought that I could also make one. Well, I couldn't.

Our plan was: Buy a Webflow template --> Put content in place --> Publish the site.

It wasn't that easy.

We ended up in a situation where we had a site with great structure, but it looked like shit. Time to ask for help.

I got some feedback about how we built the website & we started it from scratch.

We might have saved quite a lot of time if we had asked for help initially.

If you want to create a good-looking website that sells --> Worth working with a professional.

#3 Estimated wrong how much time it takes to create processes/strategies for ourselves.

We have booked our first week working together to work on strategy & big picture.

We got a lot of stuff done, but still, many things are not done.

Day-to-day stuff comes in quite quickly and overrides that stuff.

It's essential to save time for them.

So, we don't have a clear business strategy in place, yet. Something we need to finalize.

Entirely my fault as a CEO.

#4 Time management & focus turned into ad hoc.

I'm all over the place. No clear focus. No clear structure on weeks. No clear goals.

I need to work on this.

I also need to build processes for myself.

It feels like everything goes in an Ad-hoc mode right now.

I had a plan to post to LinkedIn daily, --> I haven't

I had a plan to post to Instagram daily, --> I haven't

I had a plan to do a few cold calls daily --> I haven't

I think running a business is all about those processes & I also need to build processes for myself.

#5 Didn't prepare enough for important meetings.

I had a few exciting meetings. Some were sales cases, some recruitment discussion & other stuff as well.

One common thing for all these meetings was that I didn't use enough time to prepare for this meeting.

When working on our sales process, I made a clear list of things to go through before the first sales call, and I still didn't do it.

Why is this? I think it's a process problem. I should perhaps book a time to prepare for all the meetings for next week e.g., on Fridays.

#6 Didn't prioritize enough.

As a start-up founder, you always have a lot of things on your table. If you read my last blog post about my week as a founder, you can see it.

I don't prioritize things enough. I do too many things.

I have used time way too much on other stuff.

When thinking about our growth, it comes from three things:

  1. Can we get enough clients?
  2. Can we get enough employees?
  3. Can we provide enough value to our customers?

My time should be focusing on these. And mainly on getting enough customers.

I have used time way too much on other stuff. Time to start prioritizing more & saying no to a lot of things. Writing this stuff is an excellent way of doing some self-evaluation on things.

#7 Didn't make a clear budget early enough.

I think we have a problem with having a bit too much money. I believe we would have made better decisions with a shortage of money. I have used some personal funds in TalentBee, which has given us the option of investing money in tech & much more before we really have the money.

It's a good thing, but at the same time, it easily creates a culture where we can spend money before earning it.

We have been talking about cashflows a lot more lately, and we should focus on making sure we are making a profit from the beginning.

We don't, e.g., have a clear budget for this year.

#8 Didn't establish scalable internal communications from the beginning.

One of the most challenging things, and I think we have failed in this already. Need to step up the game. It's pretty easy to discuss things when you are three founders, but when we scale, we need to make sure our internal communication scales as well.

We need to make sure our internal communication scales as well.

Just to give a few examples where I feel like we have failed in this:

  1. I feel that Siiri & Saara don't have complete visibility of our sales pipeline.
  2. We lost one deal, and Saara had a discussion with them about why. I don't know why it was.
  3. Siiri is working with one of our customers on their Employer Branding strategy. I don't know exactly where we are going with that.

I have much to learn about what everyone in the company should know. What are the things I need to know? How to ensure that we don't give too much information to people and flood them with that?

#9 Sucked at pitching our services, pricing & differentiating factors.

Yep, not easy. We believe & know that we are different. We still just suck at pitching it.

Luckily our customers can help with that, and we are starting to get this nice kind of references:

"They are not just another recruitment agency – they truly care about scaling our business by helping us to attract and hire the right talent for our growth." -Linda Skogberg-Lehtinen, Assently Oy

We shared our offer with one of the potential customers and went through our pricing.  We got +5 questions about those in the meeting & also after the meeting. I need to make it more straightforward. Most people are used to buying one-off recruitments & in-house consultants. We are selling Talent Acquisition as a service. It's still relatively new to buyers.

#10 Lost a deal that we were supposed to win.

We had a great call & discussion with one lead that came through reference.

That person was responsible for talent acquisition in their company.

We presented our solution & she bought the idea. We booked a profile definition discussion with the customer to kick things off.

Next week, we got a message that they have decided to go with another agency.

I skipped some important steps in the process because I thought it was an easy deal to win.

I was surprised because we had already won the deal.

What have we forgotten? This person wasn't the decision maker.

Their Head of HR was, and she wanted to bring another partner in.

We failed to ask about their decision-making process & if there were any other alternatives.

I skipped those steps because I thought it was an easy deal to win.

Hey, don't hide your fuck ups!

Those were the ten fuck ups. It might feel that all we do is fuck up. Well, we do. It's the best way to learn.

If you don't fuck up, you don't try enough new things.

Often people just hide them. We want to create a culture where we celebrate fuck ups.

Want to join a company where you can fuck up & learn from that? Then we might be a great fit.

Thanks for reading. I would appreciate it if you would share this on LinkedIn and tag me & share your biggest fuck up of the week. Use the hashtag #fuckups