Thursday, February 13, 2014

Learning from Your Business Mistakes Can Lead to Success

Making Mistakes Is Not Necessarily Bad, but Repeating Them Is!

Hey, we all make mistakes. Find me the person that says they have never made one and I will show you a liar! I made plenty of financial mistakes early on, resulting in five figures of debt. Once I started my own business, I made more mistakes, but I learned from them and continued to move forward. Those mistakes and the lessons they taught me are a large part of who I am today and what I share with my team members.

Instead of denying that you made a mistake, simply own up to it and try to fix the problem, not add to it. If you do not mentally accept the mistake, you are making it that much more likely that it will happen again. If you are a small business owner with employees, try to create the same culture with your staff. Allow them to bring mistakes to you and use it is a learning tool instead of a disciplinary one. If the problem continues, that is another issue entirely but initially, take the attitude that it is a teaching opportunity.

Once the mistake has been recognized, it is time to figure out how it happened. By getting to the root cause, you can break it down and figure out a solution. Here is a quick checklist of questions to ask yourself to try to narrow it down:
1.       Did we prepare properly for good execution?
2.       Did we execute our plan properly?
3.       Were we being unrealistic in what we expected from our plan?
4.       Did we deviate from the original plan?
5.       Were we making assumptions rather than decisions based upon fact?

It also helps to look at the problem from the outside in. I have found this to be a very useful tool, especially when working with new staff members. Have them approach the situation as a customer. Role-playing the situation out is a great way to make them understand why and how the situation broke down in the way that it did.

One of my favorite sayings is that "repetition breeds habit." I like to use this during training to stress the fact that if you do things right every time, it becomes habit to do them right EVERY time. It simply becomes second nature. Take a short cut once and you may very well get lucky and it works. Make this short cut a habit and the odds will eventually catch up to you and problems will arise. Simply put, avoid bad habits and you will naturally eliminate mistakes.

A term very popular in the sports world is that you have to have a short memory. If you are closer in baseball and give up a home run, you need to forget about it and move on. If you are a QB and throw a late game interception, you need to want to get back out there and have another chance. In business, you cannot let mistakes bother you. What you do need to do is figure out how they happened, fix the problem, learn from your mistake, and move on. That is how you turn a bad situation into an opportunity and continue to keep your business moving forward. 

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