Mistakes are the Best Teachers


What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” Dean Smith, Former Basketball Coach University of North Carolina


There are few certainties you can rely on as a business owner. But, you can definitely bank on the fact you will make mistakes. There is no escaping that you will not do everything perfectly, especially if you’re building a new business from the ground up. There are so many variables and boxes to check it is inevitable that at some point you will make a mistake or two.


It is imperative that you don’t take your mistakes too hard. Learn from them and apply that knowledge to implement even better business practices.


I’ve made many mistakes in business over the years (see the humbling list below):

● Neglected to make a detailed business plan

● Undervalued my services (i.e. worked for too little money, too often)

● Didn’t take enough time off to rest and rejuvenate

● Hired unsuitable staff

● Misjudged dishonest intentions of partners and investors


There’s one particular mistake I recall making which changed the way I approach business opportunities. Years ago, I was the co-founder of a corporation where the other co-founder exhibited a significant degree of financial irresponsibility. I had personal knowledge of their weakness prior to initiating the start-up phase. Furthermore, I was warned by a colleague about going into business with this person because of their financial history. I considered their warning but believed I was experienced enough to compensate for this person’s flaws. That was a big mistake on my part. Eventually this person’s financial mismanagement led the corporation to the point of near collapse. This series of financial missteps prompted me to leave the venture after a couple of years. To add insult to injury a few months after I left the company I bumped into the business associate who had given me the warning. In our brief conversation he shot an “I told you that was going to happen” jab at me as we parted ways. Ouch!


Thankfully, I learned many valuable lessons from this experience. For instance, since that time I strive to better understand the temperament, strengths, and weaknesses of potential business partners before joining the team. I’ve also learned to value the seasoned business voices in my life and make sure I heed their concerns and warnings.


I feel the best way to recover when you fail in business or make a mistake is to take a step back, assess what you did wrong and make the proper adjustments. Don’t spend time berating yourself or wallowing in self pity. Acknowledge what you’ve done, own it, make the appropriate decisions, and keep moving forward.


The learnings from each mistake are the building blocks for your future business success.

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