How to Learn from Your Mistakes as a Business Owner

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” -Henry Ford

Woman sitting on desk talking on mobile phone.

As a business owner, the road to success is a long, and often challenging, journey. While we wish we could say it was easy sailing, but you are likely going to face your share of rough waters along the way. Let’s delve into how you can learn from your mistakes as a business owner and use them to your advantage.

Own your part

When something doesn’t go according to plan, a client isn’t satisfied, or a project happens to go extremely wrong, it is easy to find blame in others. However, when you lack accountability, no one learns, and it creates a toxic environment where employees learn to brush off their roles in the mistake. Successful leaders recognize that failure is inevitable, but are prepared and willing to accept the challenge and grow from the experience.

It is also important to be open and honest if clients are involved. It is better practice to admit to what occurred, explain the solution, and what your plans to avoid it in the future.

Assess the mistake

Once the mistake has been made, there is no benefit to spending unnecessary time wishing you had done things differently. Rather, identify what contributed to the mistake, including both internal and external factors, as well as actions taken by the team and then discuss what can be done differently so that it doesn’t happen again.

A lack of information, a breakdown in communication, poor planning, or any combination can lead to problems. Uncovering these factors will help ensure proper procedures are in place, and that everyone involved is better equipped for next time.

Encourage communication

When mistakes are made, utilize open dialogue with your team and your clients. Ensure you hear the concerns from your employees, and allow the opportunity for questions by everyone affected. Look for different perspectives and input on best practices moving forward. This will enable everyone to feel involved, heard, and valued.

By creating a culture where learning is encouraged and mistakes are normalized, people are more likely to have open discussions regarding those mistakes. This will create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing and growing as a team.

Strive to keep improving

Don’t let the fear of mistakes hold you, or your team back from success. Continue to check in, encourage feedback, and analyze processes and progress on a regular basis. Regardless of the success of your business, there is always room to grow! Don’t become complacent as a leader, and encourage your employees to do the same.

In an article by Forbes, they outline research that has shown that self-made millionaires have a distinct way of thinking. One such component is embracing failure: “failure is inevitable, so most self-made millionaires don’t worry about avoiding it. Instead, they focus on learning from each experience and using the lessons to get an advantage the next time around.”

It is important to remember that your goal shouldn’t be to remove mistakes completely. Rather, focus on minimizing how often they occur, and use them as opportunities to evaluate your business. This will help you become a stronger and better business leader.

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