What if I make a mistake?

Monday July 8th 2024 | 5 min read

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I've experienced firsthand that as a tech startup founder, the fear of making mistakes can be paralysing. We often put immense pressure on ourselves to get everything 'right' first time and from the start. People look to the founder for answers and expect them to always know what to do but here's a truth bomb: you will make mistakes. And that is ok, well actually it's more than that it's an essential part of the journey.

The myth of perfection

"Perfect is the enemy of done." This mantra has been a game-changer for both Add Jam and the startups we partner with. The sooner you can embrace this philosophy, the better equipped you'll be to navigate the turbulent waters of entrepreneurship. Mistakes aren't just inevitable; they're invaluable learning opportunities that can shape the future of your product and business.

I remember early in my career, I spent weeks perfecting a feature before launch, only to find out users didn't even want it. That taught me the value of shipping early and often, gathering real-world feedback instead of chasing an illusion of perfection.

Commit to decisions

Commit to decisions. Not in a gung-ho reckless fashion but consider options, listen to feedback, seek out advice from peers but ultimately you need to act. The decisions might be wrong but you need to make them. Always aim to move the needle forward. If you're staying still you're really just going backwards.

For instance, when faced with a critical tech stack decision for a client project, we gathered input, weighed pros and cons, but ultimately had to make a call. We chose React Native, and while it wasn't perfect for every scenario, making that decision allowed us to progress rapidly and deliver value to our client.

Embracing the Learning Process

As a founder, it's crucial to cultivate an environment where mistakes are seen as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. This mindset shift can lead to:

  • Increased innovation: When team members aren't afraid to take risks, creativity flourishes.
  • Faster problem-solving: Acknowledging mistakes quickly allows for swifter resolution.
  • Improved team morale: A blame-free culture leads to happier, more productive teams. A famous example of embracing a no blame culture is the Mercedes F1 team.

Moving Forward: Mistake-Proofing Your Future

While we can't eliminate mistakes entirely (nor should we want to), we can learn to make better mistakes. Here are some strategies we've implemented at Add Jam:

  1. Regular retrospectives: We conduct frequent team meetings to discuss what went well and what didn't. Ultimately we focus on how can we improve.
  2. Fail-fast methodologies: We've adopted agile practices that allow us to test hypotheses quickly and cheaply.
  3. Continuous learning: We invest in ongoing education and skill development for our entire team. We make our own producta and try new frameworks, tools and approaches to alway be improving. As an example we recently started using RevenueCat as an experiment to improve our approach to in app purchases.
  4. Mentorship programmes: We've connected with experienced entrepreneurs who provide valuable outside perspectives. We're active in the Glasgow Technology Ecosystem and try our best to attend local meetups and events such as RookieOven.

Recovering from Mistakes

When you do make a mistake (and you will), here's how to bounce back:

  1. Own it: Take responsibility for the error.
  2. Learn from it: Analyse what went wrong and why. It's not 'really' a mistake as long as you learn from it.
  3. Communicate: Be transparent with your team and stakeholders. Don't shirk away form it, own it and chat about it.
  4. Adapt: Use the lesson to improve your processes, product or decision making in future.
  5. Move forward: Don't dwell on past mistakes; focus on the next challenge.

Mistakes are your teachers, not your enemies

The next time you find yourself on the brink of a decision, paralysed by the fear of making a mistake, remember this: every successful entrepreneur has a laundry list of failures behind them. It's not about avoiding mistakes; it's about learning from them and using that knowledge to propel your business forward.

At Add Jam, we've turned our mistakes into a competitive advantage. Our experiences have shaped our approach to digital product development, allowing us to guide our clients through the pitfalls we've already navigated.

So, what if you make a mistake? You'll learn, you'll grow, and you'll be better prepared for the challenges ahead. Embrace the journey, mistakes and all.

Are you a tech startup founder grappling with the challenges of building a successful product? At Add Jam, we've been there, done that, and learned from our mistakes. Let's chat about how our experience can help you avoid common pitfalls and accelerate your path to success. Get in touch with us today!

If you're in Glasgow drop us a message and we can maybe meetup at a local tech event.

Michael Hayes's avatar

Michael Hayes


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