Mistakes are fine, says entrepreneur and author Lisa Messenger, because it shows your brave enough to take a risk. But, just don’t make these ones …
I make mistakes.
I’ve stuffed up. I still stuff up. I will probably stuff up tomorrow.
And if not me, one of my staff might – which is a whole other conversation and something to personally reconcile for another today. But for now, let’s focus on ourselves – the leader, the visionary, the ideas-person, the one paying the bills; the one with access to the bank account.
Being in business is a rollercoaster ride of awesome and terrible, of fist pumps and soul destroyers, of success and failure – and sometimes all in the one day. There are times where you surge ahead with such precision and brilliance that someone should give you a medal and shower you in champagne, and then there are days when you feel like you’ve stepped into a pile of quick sand or have landed in a maze in pitch-black darkness without even as much as your iPhone torch to guide your path. Is this a game? Yuck. It doesn’t feel fun.
Being in business can be downright tough, especially in the early days when you don’t always have the know how or experience you need to navigate tricky situations or more often than not, the money to buy you either.
But personally, I do believe we should embrace mistakes and failure, knowing that they are the very things that propel us forward and make ambitious, curious and hungry entrepreneurs keep going when others simply give up. It’s important to remember that if we aren’t pushing ourselves and the boundaries generally, then we are playing it too safe. If we aren’t breaking the rules or at least, some conventions – and asking people questions like “why does it have to happen that way” and “why can’t we do things differently, even if we fail?” – then we aren’t trying hard enough to innovate and disrupt, and that means we won’t enjoy the spoils – financial or otherwise – when we do.
So, here are a few things I’ve learned about failure:
- Don’t be afraid of it. This will only make you stuck, frustrated and ultimately, unsuccessful, because you’ll never do anything or go anywhere. Failure is real, but if you want to play a big game, you can’t stay small. The battle to overcome is not the failure itself, but the fear of it.
- What to do when you fail. Suck it up, cop the costs, learn from it for next time and move forward #harsh #sorrynotsorry
- How it can help you. When you are willing to fail, you get more comfortable with the feeling, which opens you up to trying out new, interesting, and riskier things. When you put yourself out there so much, and so frequently, something’s got to stick – and in the words of Henry Ford (who had two companies that went bust before he rocked the world): “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.
- Create a solutions-based culture. When things happen, expect and encourage staff to come to you not only with the problem or mistake, but with at least one solution for how we can overcome it and implement a new process so it doesn’t happen next time. We can’t go back, but we can go forwards.
Drilling down a bit deeper, and after 15 years in business, here are a few mistake I have made, but plan to never make again:
- Hire people like myself. Instead, hire to your weakness and to your team’s overall weakness, never being afraid to employ people more specialised, smarter or more focused than you. This is easy when it’s the receptionist, but harder when you bring in specialist people for your specialist area. Be brave.
- Ignore my gut. Whenever I do, it ends poorly. Entrepreneurs or those entrepreneurial in mindset are a rare breed and one thing that universally unites us is our gut instinct. So back it, give in to the inkling, know that it can speak louder than data – at times. Be careful though and develop this over time. Always be honest with yourself – know what you have discerned correctly in the past and what you’ve gotten wrong, and use that as a yardstick for future decisions.
- Be overcome by fear. It will get you absolutely nowhere; resulting in complete personal and business paralysis (see the points above on this). Train your brain to overcome these bouts – which mostly arrive at 4am!
So as I go off to make another mistake today, I hope you’ll do the same. It can only make us better.