4 Entrepreneurial Errors to Learn From — and Correctly Change Course
I will be the first to say, I do not like to admit when I have made a mistake. It chips away a little at my ego (being right isn’t always necessary, but it is — of course — preferred!). However, even though mistakes can be costly and impact our need for perfectionism, we can learn from these situations, and realize that all is not lost.
So here are a few mistakes that I have made through the years (and certainly learned from):
Mistake #1: Useless Meetings Syndrome
Yes, I had “Useless Meetings Syndrome,” and I have been cured! We used to have meetings for everything: I would have as many people show up as possible, because I did not want to leave anyone out. After a few years, I learned that meetings should be reserved only for those who are truly involved in the project, or affected by the matters at hand. After all, the last thing I wanted to see was someone scribbling on their notepad or slouched in their chair from boredom.
So meetings should have a clear agenda and purpose. We now try to keep them succinct, but start each one with an ice-breaker to get everyone pumped up.
How We Redeemed Ourselves: Instituted short meetings with a clear agenda and just the necessary people.
Mistake #2: When Growth Hits You in the Face Hard
Coming up with a business idea, and the fun of growing it and experimenting with concepts, products, services and promotion, has been a thrill for me. But when our company grew to a height that was so phenomenal and we were busting at the seams, the sustainability of that fabulousness became the hardest part of running a company. So a true challenge for a company: when it gets to that tipping-point of “continue to grow or spiral back down.”
That is why it is important to consider all the dollars spent when growth occurs, such as: “do we really need to move to that bigger fancier office; do I really need an assistant; do we really need that upgraded equipment?” Consider with each dollar spent, and how necessary every purchase is. We didn’t always do that.
How We Redeemed Ourselves: Started to analyze all purchases, and to save for a rainy day. Lesson: be hyper-vigilant, because in the business world, good times can turn bad on a dime.
Mistake #3: Don’t Hold Onto a Bad Apple
We have had employees who were not the right fit, but we kept them employed longer than we should have, simply because we thought it was easier to not fire anyone. Firing is most business owner’s least favorite part of owning a business; it’s disruptive to have to let go of a team member. However, if they are the wrong fit, then it must be done, and sooner than later – there is no point in holding onto someone who is not bringing the company forward. And in some cases, they are even costing the company more money by not being productive. Final note: don’t forget that one bad apple can affect the entire team.
How We Redeemed Ourselves: Realizing there is no time for team members whose goals and abilities are not in alignment with what the company needs.
Mistake #4: Wimps Need Not Apply
There is no time to be timid in negotiations, because at the end of the day it’s your dollar spent. I have worked with high-handed vendors, as well as accommodating ones. At the end of the day, it’s about business. As an introvert, being pushy does not come easily to me, but out of survival I have developed a voice that is stronger than it used to be, and what I call a “gentle aggression” that I turn to when I need to negotiate.
How We Redeemed Ourselves: We realized that everything is negotiable, and so that is what we do: negotiate.
Making mistakes is par for the course when being a business owner. It’s recognizing what the errors are, and how you can handle the situation better the next time, that best sets the tone for progress and success.18