All companies are different but, often, the mistakes made in managing them are quite similar. In my case, these are the biggest mistakes I made that strengthed my software Startup and the ones that helped us grow stronger.
Hiring the wrong people
The heart of our company is our people. That was the number one reason we took off in Peru. When we got our first contract with a Spanish company, we decided to hire someone older who, in theory, had more experience than any of us (at that time we were only two people in Tekton) and we believed that person would be a great asset to the team but it turned out to be the opposite. We did not take enough time to know this person. Instead, we ended up with a very big problem with our client and (to make things worse) this person charged us without even finishing the work.
We conclude that the selection process is very important and obviously we prefer to work with less people but committed to the project, than with an army that does not help or work as it should.
In the following years, we hired A1 people but they didn't like or didn't want to understand the culture of our company and that’s very important too! We must be smart enough to be a part of a growing company, but we must fit with their culture as well. Otherwise the relationship will fail just as it has happened with us.
Communication and culture
When we were less than 10 people in the company, communication was easy because most of the time we were in the same place working, eating and spending time together. We were all in the same rhythm but as we grew, it got more complicated.
When you have more people working, if you are lucky, everyone will be in the same country and communication will be simpler. But when more projects and new clients come, people lose track of where the company is headed. That can often have a negative impact on the team commitment, so you must always look for ways to improve that.
Without customers, no company would survive, but this doesn’t mean that we have to work with all the companies in the world. Over the years, we have worked with small, medium and large companies and, of course, we have had not the most optimal clients.
We have also worked with great companies that truly saw us as a partner and as a resource to help they to where they wanted to go.
After a couple of years, we were able to select and categorize our clients to have a better work experience (of course we had to fire a couple of clients in that process) but that allowed us to grow better, protect our team and avoid heavy psychiatrist bills.
Not being prepared for the worst
I like to use this phrase: Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Sometimes at the beginning we were like: “Ok, we have estimations, sprints, team, a committed client…” but, we forgot that things can always go wrong. Always. We may have problems with servers, Apple, AmazonWS, the Internet or sometimes the client moves the dates or the client’s company goes to bankruptcy. We have to be prepared and actually it is very helpful because we can manage expectations in a better way.
Like almost all software development companies, we have been trying (and still trying to) create our own products to have something great that everyone can use and that is useful to them at the same time.We had 7 products and all of them failed for many reasons but it was good because we learned a lot in several aspects: technology, management, marketing, product discovery, etc. That allowed us to differentiate ourselves from other companies.
Finance and payments
This is a very important aspect because, in our case, we were just engineers and nobody knew much about finance or stuff. We underestimated the finances at the beginning because we thought that a sale meant we already had the money in the bank. This became a serious problem because you can't take a decision based on the money you'll have later (sometimes it was between 30 and 60 working days!). You can hit bottom very quickly if you forget that. In addition, cash flow sounds easy but keeping it up to date is very difficult. This is key for any startup because thanks to that we can project and set goals for the following year.
Relationships are the key to growing, at least that's what we believe in Tekton. Even when we made a lot of mistakes in this matter. For example: We partnered with a big company in the United States because the idea was to work with their technology and then they would get customers who wanted that technology. Well, that never happened ... they just took our money!
A lot of similar things happened in the process, but we keep learning more and more about how to work and what to look for in a partner. And now we have many great partners! It was a long and painful road, but it is always worth it.
Of course there are more than seven mistakes that allowed us to grow and be stronger but these are the biggest ones, hope this helps!
Tekton Labs CEO