I was asked recently by a friend about my first startup and the mistakes I have committed in my early days as a founder in tech and finance.
My friend asked what some of the things that I should have made great advantage of as a first time founder but didn’t. In this post, I will try and think back to my first few startups, talk about some of my most crucial learnings and how these helped me grow.
Hope you enjoy reading.
Seeking advice from others
In my early days, I was eager to rely on others’ advice frequently. I, as Anıl Uzun, wasn’t as comfortable as I am today to back my own stance—especially in the face of major crises.
Even when I sought advice from board members of my company or investors who I rely on for advice, I realized that it took time to figure out the complexity of any problem fully and decisively more forward. Even people with great experience tend to oversimplify issues when it doesn’t affect them. This results in making a lot of misplaced comparisons and weak analogies. My experience has shown me that the only opinion that matters is that of my users and clients. In the end, they are the ones who will make you successful or who will deem you as a failure.
Creating a harmonious team
There are two constants in a founders life: Hiring people and letting them go. If you are intuitively good at both, you are in luck. If you are bad at even one of these things, you are in a bit of a trouble. Even though you think you are good at reading people and assessing them, the best way to go about evaluating the value people bring to your organization is to create a process for both actions and to trust it fully.
Hire people who are better than you in at least one thing
I have seen many founders search for “bright, young, ambitious, and grateful” talent almost romantically. It is true that smart and ambitious people can get things done. But can they get to achieve the results you need in a timeframe that your startup needs? This is extremely important to consider when making a hiring decision—and I can admit that I have fallen for the same trap a few times.
If you are facing a complex challenge that your organization cannot survive without eliminating, hire people who bring real-world experience in that domain. If necessary, hire executive-level people whose ideas about the future of your organization are just as strong as yours. These people will also give your organization great advantage when you need to scale and go bigger even though they might aggrandize your overhead initially.
Don’t get stuck up on your emotions
Let go. Do not be afraid to let go of an employee, an investor, an office space, a product, a piece of software just because it brings you a certain nostalgic pleasure. As a founder, one of your most important jobs is to make sure that your story is ever evolving.
So, these are the first few things that came to mind when I was asked about my first years as a tech founder. I hope you find these useful.