Charles Dickens hit the nail on the head when he said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That quote truly sums up Traklight's 2014, as we had some amazing successes as well as some stunning setbacks. But that is the nature of an early growth company; it’s a rollercoaster ride. Fellow business owners, here are my top three lessons learned from this past year. May your 2015 be increasingly prosperous!
Lesson 1: Hire slow and fire fast
Our number one mistake this year was hiring some people who did not fit (either as employees or contractors) and not parting ways soon enough.It was not as much about cash flow or runway but more about the damage that comes along with a bad hire. It takes time and effort to train someone and then when they do not perform, it has a ripple effect on your entire team.
Set specific goals and a trial period for any hires. Listen to your gut and take action swiftly if performance issues come up.
Lesson 2: Health first
The old adage that you are only as strong as your weakest team member is very true. Team members must watch their own health and pace themselves accordingly. Having recently come down with a cold that likely resulted from not sleeping enough and not eating properly, I can attest to the need for staying on top of your health.
Remember it’s a triathlon not a sprint or marathon.
Lesson 3: Revenue, revenue, revenue
Early stage companies need revenue for obvious reasons. Gaining traction with users (particularly paying users), creates a snowball effect: with more users there is more evidence that you are solving a problem and users with revenue will be even more effective in attracting investment.
However obtaining revenue, whether direct sales or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is tough regardless of your market. In the beginning, the CEO is the company’s best sales person. The intersection of finding that key sales person and the hiring missteps outlined above remains our challenge.
We have a new plan for 2015 and will share how that goes in due course. #onwards!
Speaking of 2015, download the Scary Out of Startups eBook to quell your business fears for the upcoming new year.