Business blunders. Do you give up or dust yourself off and have another crack at it, differently?

I’ve made mistakes, probably like most of you, but I hope, like me, that you’ve learnt from them, applied that learning and won’t find yourself in the same position, making the same mistakes again.

If not and you haven’t learnt from that mistake, then I’m reminded of a saying a wise man once said… “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…”

Failing is part of the entrepreneurial journey, but there is a thought that it is better to fail fast. I challenge this thought. Yes, it is the right idea that failing sooner rather than later reduces the loss suffered, financially and emotionally, but to say that it is best to fail fast sends out the wrong message and frankly it’s just the wrong attitude to have in business.

Be proud to learn, not that you fail fast.

If you hold you head up for being proud of failing fast, you’re endorsing failure, whereas your endorsement should not, no, it should NEVER be about failing, it should be about learning, specifically, learning why you failed, and doing whatever you can to prevent the situation repeating.

Bad or Ugly?

Most entrepreneurs I’ve talked to believe that failure is bad. This widely held belief is misguided.

Failure is not always bad. In business it is sometimes bad, sometimes inevitable, and sometimes even good.

I hear the usual superficial excuses that ‘procedures weren’t followed’ or ‘the market just wasn’t quite ready for our great new product’. But in reality, this is just part of the old cultural blame game getting in the way.

It’s your fault entirely.

You see, as the Entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. So when something goes wrong, it’s your fault entirely. You should be a strong enough leader to realise this and do so ahead of failure. The only failure is that when a business fails, it’s the leader has failed. Fact.

My top picks from the learning gained from my clients

Know when to quit.

Entrepreneurs pour their life and soul into their businesses, so as well as being financially invested, they tend to have too close of an emotional investment. This can be a killer. Entrepreneurs can simply have a hard time admitting defeat. When you’ve poured time, energy, and money into something, it’s hard to write it off as a loss. If you can’t, you may end up losing more.

Grow slower.

Would you ever think that selling too much would be bad for you? Surely if you sell more, you’ll have lots of money coming in. That’s good news, isn’t it?

Not necessarily.

There is something called overtrading which is a serious problem to watch out for. Overtrading occurs when a business expands its operations too quickly, selling more than its underlying resources can support – essentially running out of cash.

Rapid expansion, creating a new product line, or moving beyond a core business seems at first glance like a way to grow quickly. Often, you end up losing focus instead.

Don’t try to be everything, at once, to everyone.

Know you customers and serve their needs. There is simply no way you can find a ‘one size fits all’. So first of all assess your market, get to know your customers and identify your target demographic. Once that’s identified you can market to the most lucrative market first, the second next, the third thereafter and so on. You will be mitigating risk and reducing your exposure whilst also testing the market.

Straddling numerous markets with numerous offerings at the same time is a sure way to lose focus and lose customers. The new entrepreneurs know the value of a niche.

Learn to delegate.

This is always easier said than done. The challenge is delegating the right tasks, and not delegating the wrong tasks and then making sure you maintain oversight on what is happening. If you lose focus of who is responsible for what, guess who is to blame if it all goes wrong?

Every entrepreneur needs to set aside their fear of delegating to improve their skills in this area. If you do it right every task will likely be done better than you could do it.

And finally…

Don’t play the blame game, accept that everything is your fault.