When you’re starting out, emotions are high and mistakes can be scary. But, I want to submit that making mistakes is key for growth. In fact, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.
In the early days of Finder, I can proudly say that we made loads of mistakes and looking back, I am so happy we made them.
There are four key mistakes which stand out to me. They taught me big lessons that shaped our business and formed the foundations to grow into what it is today.
Quality increases the longevity of your business.
In the early days of Finder, we used grey hat SEO techniques to get our content to rank in Google. We were creating low quality leads and pushing boundaries to get rankings for keywords. For a while, this worked and we made it to the top of the list.
One day, it all changed. We lost around 85% of our traffic overnight after a Google penalty wiped us off the first 200 pages. We went to Google Jail.
The following few months were the toughest time at Finder as we worked around the clock to regain our website. We decided to throw out our old growth hacking methods and rebuild the company with a clean slate. Google finally saw that we were providing people with quality content and guides and after three months we got our rankings back.
This experience taught us the importance of quality, by focusing on our core mission and doing things the best way. We raised our standards and lifted to a new benchmark. It helped increase the longevity of Finder.
The people you hire are reflective of your success.
In our first company, Freestyle Media, we made mistakes with hiring the wrong people. They didn’t fit our culture or didn’t have the motivation needed.
However, I’m glad we made hiring mistakes. These mistakes taught me one pivotal lesson which now forms the foundation of Finder’s success.
As a business owner, it’s key you are super selective and have a thorough hiring process. Hiring the right fit can determine the success of your startup. Entrepreneurs are hungry for success, passionate to launch their idea and win. The people that you bring on should also match this ethos.
Break something. Cause chaos.
As an entrepreneur, you want to see how far you can go with your product. You want to see what your systems are capable of handling. Breaking the Finder website taught us that.
A few years ago we launched a bitcoin treasure hunt. We hid bitcoins throughout the site in the code and there were clues to find them. After a public announcement we got hit with loads of traffic and the website ended up crashing for two days. It was chaos. But, it was one of my favourite mistakes to date.
I was always curious to push our website to its limits and by breaking the site, we could then plan for the future and improve our load capacity.
It’s key that startups push themselves to the limits to see what they are capable of achieving. Doing this will allow you to better understand your business model and plan ahead.
Great businesses take time
In the early days of Finder, we launched many different product categories in a short period of time. We wanted to master everything quickly and become leaders in the space.
Launching everything so quickly meant we were compromising on quality. We were applying too many strategies and weren’t executing well. As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to build our business as fast as we could.
We quickly realised that good businesses take time. This mistake taught me the importance of having patience when launching your startup. Good startups take time to build. Creating a clear strategy and executing on it well is more important than growing fast.
These were four key mistakes we made in the early days of Finder. Each of these mistakes has helped us to build a better startup, become a market leader in the space, and ensure we can last for generations to come.
Fred Schebesta is the Co-founder of Finder, Australia’s most visited financial comparison website, and the Finder App.
More stories on Fred: