This blog post is part 7 of a series of 7 posts, transcribed from a presentation by Daniel de Gruijter on business & entrepreneurship during the Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 2018, titled: “Why you should f*ck up fast & often”. Watch the full presentation here: https://youtu.be/0XqF5ZtkGw8.
During the Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 2018, Incitement Cofounder & CEO, Daniel de Gruijter, shares 7 stories about ‘Why you should f*ck up fast & often’, and how each of those failures taught him valuable lessons on business, entrepreneurship, hiring, leadership, and more.
Scroll down to watch the video.
It’s Not About Beanbags
When we landed our first big project we were ecstatic. This was our first big deal – a very big and exciting project. Since this was the first time we had this kind of money in our bank account, with decent profits, too – it was easy to let it get to our heads, which is exactly what happened.
Having worked in a really nice workplace with a fancy office -with bean bags everywhere, nice furniture, company team retreats, parties, and stuff like that – made us believe that when building our business those are the things that matter. Only later did we find out that those things didn’t matter at all, and that how fancy your office looks has nothing to do with your culture, going on a team retreat has nothing to do with your culture. Your company culture is built around a set of values, not beanbags.
Using some of the profits of the project we went on a team retreat, hired people we didn’t necessarily need, furnished the office with unnecessary things, and threw dinners and parties for the team. The fact that this same client told us that they wanted to do this project the next year as well, only fuelled our confidence. Stupid. I know.
Little did we know at the time that the client didn’t have the same budget a year later. As a matter of fact, they didn’t have any budget at all. So they didn’t end up doing any business with us the year after. But, in the meantime, we had already moved into an office that was costing us 15k/month. Oops.
We moved in the office, hired fancy designers to make up a beautiful design (we still have that design, and it is gorgeous!), only to realise that we were not financially equipped to maintain this kind of spending. However, we were in a two-year contract without termination clause. It was depleting our bank account quickly, and we had to pay salaries…
Incitement’s 11 Values
It came to the point where we had to announce to the team: “Sorry guys, we are stuck in this contract, I really, really messed up this time, and we are not going to have any salary for the coming eight or so months.” This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do; disappointing your entire team. This was a very special moment, and the moment I realised which were the key elements of our company’s culture.
Every single person in the team at the time, which were 13 people, said that they would stick with us – that we would make this work together and pull it through, even without a salary. Sitting in an empty office that didn’t even have a floor yet, hearing this from team members – some of which were in tears – made me realise that our culture is what had caused people to stay; a culture of found upon 11 values.
We begged the developers to let us out of the tenancy agreement. We simply couldn’t afford it, and a law suit would cause bankruptcy. The response we got was “Sorry guys, this is the contract.” The was no mercy. Which was their good right, of course. After lengthy discussions, we struck a deal and ended up buying ourselves out of this contract, paying 200k in instalments.
Your Most Important KPI Is Runway
Don’t assume that what someone says is true. Don’t assume that a client will repeat its business with you because they say so. Don’t even assume it when you have a signed MOA. Believe it when money is in the bank.
Plan well and make sure that you know one KPI and one KPI only: runway. Understand what runway means when you start your business, and learn how to produce your runway in months, so that you don’t end up standing in front of your team with the message that there will not be any salaries…
Watch: Runway Is Everything
Watch All F*ck Ups & Failures Here
1. The one with the lazy Malay
2. The one where they think I’m gay
3. The one where I fired my girlfriend
4. The one with the bipolar girlfriend
5. The one with Sheldon Cooper
6. The one where I got arrested
7. The one where we got evicted
Or watch the full presentation by Daniel de Gruijter on business & entrepreneurship during GE Bootcamp 2018 here:
Why you should f*ck up fast & often (https://youtu.be/0XqF5ZtkGw8)