Business / Tech

Learning from your failures: lessons tech founders can take away from these common startup struggles

The tech industry can be extremely unforgiving depending on the mistake that has been made by a startup.

*This is a guest post, the opinions, and thoughts expressed here are those of its authors and does not reflect Techaeris or its staff.

Founders tend to learn far more from failures than successes as failures stick more in the mind of entrepreneurs. A sign of a founder with the right attitude is being able to admit a mistake and then create a plan so it doesn’t happen in the future. The tech industry can be extremely unforgiving depending on the mistake that has been made by a startup. Coming out with an innovative service/product along with the right PR team does seem to help wipe a slate clean for most tech juggernauts. Facebook is the perfect example, as the selling of data seems to be a thing of the past with Facebook’s new payment method being launched. Apple is another example, as there are frequently recalls for iPhones of various generations with the newest versions wiping the slate clean. The article below will delve into the lessons that can be taken from the following common startup struggles.

Trouble Being Recognized by Potential Clients as a Reputable Company

The tech industry is full of juggernauts that are household names, which makes it difficult for a company to be recognized as reputable. Going to niche conferences for a B2B tech company would be a great first step in establishing a name in the industry. The highest concentration of professionals and founders in a specific niche will be attending the conference. Content marketing is also going to be an essential factor in becoming reputable as an informative blog, as well as engaging social media accounts, which can be immensely valuable.

Landing a few large clients can allow for a company to build a reputation, but there is something to be careful of. Taking on a huge client and failing is worse than allowing this client to know that you cannot take on the volume of work that they have. Companies are looking for honest business partners instead of partners that will agree to something only to underdeliver or completely fail on a project.

Hires have Been Hit or Miss

The tech industry is full of job applicants that list themselves as a “guru” without justification. The hiring process of any startup needs to be thorough as a single employee has a far larger impact than at a large corporation. Founders hiring with their “gut instinct” can prove successful at times but it is not a long-term hiring plan. The fact that a certain applicant interviews well but executes poorly in terms of job performance should eradicate this hiring practice. Tasks relevant to the job being assigned can allow the startup to see how an applicant works/performs under pressure. A software developer that is given code to find an error is a great example as some developers take collaborative projects to place on their resume without giving others credit that is due.

Studies have shown that bad hiring decisions can have major financial consequences on a business. Startups hiring for the first time might be in a haste to fill a role, and therefore don’t take the time they need to ensure they have a solid culture and skillset fit. To ensure you give yourself the right time, consider outsourcing to a freelancer or agency, which will allow you to be more lax with your hiring process. There are also services that offer interim positions; these are hires that understand they are stepping in to do a job effectively until the role is filled with a permanent employee.

And lastly, consider working with a recruitment agency altogether. A recruitment agency will save you time in the long run and are paid only after you’ve hired a candidate they suggested. Great agencies will work with you to determine exactly what you’re looking for in a potential hire. Often, they have a huge pool of active and passive talent, and these applicants have been vetted to ensure top quality.

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The working environment of a startup can become toxic very quickly due to the low number of employees.

Marketing is Providing Little to No ROI

Marketing can be tricky and difficult depending on the length competitors have been in the market. Building links back to the website on relevant sites can take time with competitors having hundreds of links for specific keywords. Climbing the search engines can be easy with the right digital marketing company or could be a waste of money if the proper company is not picked. Ask for results when vetting digital marketing companies to assist the tech startup as a market is a results-driven industry.

Lack of willingness to show results more than likely means there are no real positive results that the company has garnered for its clients. Creating quality content for the company blog, social media, and offsite publications can be a great way to build organic backlinks. Relevant backlinks being included as resources in articles or mentioned in roundups can build a large number of links. Avoid buying links on websites with no real organic traffic. These are obviously designed to earn money from publishing but offer no real value in terms of content. While these types of sites can drive rankings temporarily, it is only a matter of time before they are penalized leaving the backlink doing more harm to the company website than good.

With that in mind, it’s crucial that you pay particular attention to search engine optimization—the gift that keeps on giving. Great SEO agencies understand the need to appear higher in search engine results pages without using black hat tactics. As you talk to different agencies, keep an eye out for the ones that overpromise with first-page guarantees; in the world of Google, there are no guarantees. Google’s algorithms are changing constantly, and it can take months to see the fruits of your SEO labor. Search engine optimization takes time, which is why so many SEO companies work on a retainer. It’s slow to build, but the results are long-lasting.

The Work Environment has become Toxic Due to a Few Employees

The working environment of a startup can become toxic very quickly due to the low number of employees. The wrong employees can bring down the morale of an entire office and the founders. Startup life is already stressful enough without negative attitudes prevailing in meetings or during office happy hours. As a founder, being assertive is important as this is something that is necessary for effective management. Reprimand those talking in a negative manner privately and only publicly if they continue the behavior, and only if you think public reprimand would be effective. The standard has to be set that there is no place for negative attitudes or conversations in the office. A good rule is to have people come up with solutions for problems before presented to management. The company will see a reduction in complaints if the person complaining is held accountable to help solve an issue. A founder can also learn that the energy they present will trickle down throughout the company. Confidence in your business vision, as well as a little acting, can present the best version of yourself to your staff. Struggles can be great learning experiences if viewed as a form of company/personal growth for a founder. Take a look at previous hardships or problems to see if there was a lesson involved as you might have learned something without realizing it!

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