Ask a Startup: How Does Your Team Handle Failure & Mistakes?

Haley Campbell, Co-Founder and VP Marketing at Caboh

Haley Campbell, Co-Founder and VP Marketing at Caboh

As a small startup, how do you and your team handle failure or mistakes?

Our team is small with only 3 people, so we are very close to one another. We communicate a lot and have learned to be forgiving with each other because we recognize how hard we are all trying. During this first year in business, we have learned that failure and mistakes are inevitable, so we just roll with them as they happen. Our main goal is not to avoid mistakes, but rather to learn from them and resolve them as quickly as possible. We try to stay innovative and have realized that trying to avoid mistakes makes us too conservative. It’s when we are willing to take risks that we find new problems and create new opportunities for our business.

How does your team handle feedback?

Feedback loops are quick here because we have a new product that is constantly changing and being updated. We also have new customers which provide us with feedback all the time, so we are dealing with an influx of internal and external feedback. It can be tricky. It helps us to communicate any feedback, positive or negative, as soon as we can, and face to face if possible. Chat is our favorite method of communication when we aren’t in the same office with each other because it’s instant and direct. We also document a lot of feedback, especially feedback on our product, so we have it for a point of reference later.  

Would you say your team is more flexible or structured?

We are definitely more flexible. Our small team has to be flexible in order to juggle many different tasks and adapt quickly to change, but we also try to create structure around activities like feedback and customer care. This helps us create more uniform experiences for our customers. I guess I would rather say our team has created a system not a structure, because it’s not rigid, it’s just consistent until we find a better way of doing things.

How will your team maintain flexibility as you grow?

We operate now within a very flexible work environment where everyone is self-responsible and accountable to the rest of the team. This type of environment isn’t necessarily for everyone because some people need more structure and guidance. So, I think finding the right people to join our team will really help us maintain our culture. We look for team players who are, first and foremost, good communicators. But, we also realize it’s not just about finding an “ideal” person. It’s also about setting people up for success from the get go. Our main goal is to make new team members feel safe so there is no fear around sharing honest feedback, and this really comes down to constant communication.  

Haley Campbell is head of Marketing and co-founder for Caboh Software, a collaboration tool for teams to communicate more effectively with one another. She co-founded Caboh a little over a year ago with partners Tyler PughAlicia Barron and Brian Traudt. Haley is a curious and open-minded person who thrives in changing environments and loves start-ups!