Entrepreneurship is about getting down to business, falling, getting back up and starting over again. You have to take in the highs as well as the lows. So, making mistakes is part of the growth process, but a true entrepreneur should learn from others’ failures. This way, you can avoid making those mistakes yourself or at least minimize the consequences.
Tuesday the 12th of September, I organized the second edition of The Growth Stories Meetup with The Growth Agency. 4 Entrepreneurs got together in a panel to discuss growth and answer the questions from the public, which consisted of entrepreneurs, CMO’s, growth hackers and marketers. Here’s a summary of 4 insights from that evening:
1. Experimenting is a must (and failing is a part of the process)
The first question from the public was a fun one: “What was your biggest failure and eye-opener on your path to growth?” All four speakers were eager to answer this question, as each one of them had already gone through trial and error on their path to growth.
Charles Van den Bogaert is the marketing manager of Deliveroo Benelux and was the first one to share his story. To promote Deliveroo in the early stages, he and his team decided to buy a food truck to get in front of as many customers as possible. In theory, this idea made sense. However, in reality, it turned out to be a real hassle and brought in very little to almost no new clients. His advice? “Just accept it and move on!”. Charles recommends to start small and experiment often, especially in the startup phase: “Fail in the beginning, so you can avoid making the same mistakes when you’re scaling.”
Making mistakes should be acceptable. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working hard enough”, according to Florent Pique. He concluded that transparent communication within the organization and highlighting both success and failures is a must. This way, you can create a climate where people feel it’s acceptable to make mistakes.
So experimenting is the way to go! But without proper tracking, you can never learn from your mistakes.
2. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back
As a perfectionist, you always have the feeling that you can do better. Often, that is the case. Yet, with that mentality, you waste valuable time since it takes you longer to finish projects.
Before he went on board at Xpenditure, Florent was a music composer. “When you’re a creative, you easily become a perfectionist”, he explained. “You focus too much on the details. But you can’t be a perfectionist when you’re moving fast. Is it finished for 80%? Send it out to the world, listen to the feedback and improve! Find the balance between being a perfectionist and actually getting things done.”
Being a perfectionist doesn’t have to be a disadvantage at all. Depending on how you deal with it, it will either boost or hinder your growth.
3. Stay focused
As a leader in a fast-growing company, you will be pulled in all directions. We’re not used to saying “no” and we don’t want to miss any opportunities. Though, if you want to grow, you have to focus.
Thomas Goubau is the co-founder and CEO of Aproplan. When his business started scaling, he started receiving offers to work together from various big companies. Most of the times, they offered partnerships. Nevertheless, there’s no free lunch, there’s always a hook according to Thomas. So think twice before accepting partnerships and make sure you and your team don’t lose focus. As a scale-up, you have to be all about your product roadmap and stay within your strategic vision, and not that of a partner.
Also, don’t get discouraged by the many success stories out there. Sometimes it seems that it goes so much easier and smoother at other companies, but bear in mind that behind the scenes, it’s usually a hard knock life.
“Maybe it’s better that general media don’t show you what it’s really like being an entrepreneur,” said Ewout, “otherwise, nobody would consider founding a startup.”
Ewout Meyns grew his company, PieSync, to a successful scale up. However, in the beginning, it was difficult to pay the bills. Since there was no capital to pay wages, he was forced to freelance part time. But after a while, he started losing focus on his actual goal, growing his company. According to him, he could have avoided this. He concluded that it’s essential to focus on your goals and don’t start looking for easier options that distract you.
4. Think international!
Ewout’s plan with PieSync from the beginning on was to provide synchronizations for the big Saas companies in the American market. After a partnership that didn’t work out well, he took the advice from others to start small and focus on Belgium first. Not following through on his initial plan turned out to be a mistake.
Luckily, later on he shifted his focus back to the American market. That was the right decision from the start: “The new integration with SharpSpring is a good example of that, because both companies can profit from the partnership and reach a much wider public than we could ever reach in Belgium.”
In conclusion, don’t let your country of residence define your limits!