Entrepreneurship can be unpredictable. My quote to describe it is, “running a business is like my sense of fashion in that each year I look back at the last and wonder...what I was thinking.”
Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Entrepreneurship requires taking risks and, inevitably, a fair amount of those risks don’t always pay off. What I’ve begun to realize is that mistakes are integral to success.
Without mistakes, you don’t learn or grow from your experiences as much. That means the value you can bring to an organization is limited without these mistakes.
When things are going smoothly, that’s wonderful. And when things don’t always go so well, that’s important--because that means you learn more, grow more, and become a more valuable entrepreneur. Even a bad day is a good day, and so Ice Cube was right when he said “today was a good day.”
Not convinced yet? Here are 5 examples from my entrepreneurial journey that appear to be bad days, but they’ve fostered growth in myself and our organization.
1) Employee turnover
If you’re like me, this keeps you up at night. You put so much effort into recruiting top talent and fostering a strong company culture--but this never means you’re immune to turnover. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.
Every time we lose a team member, we conduct an exit interview. This process has led to significant improvements in benefits, culture, and employee engagement. Being proactive about collecting feedback will make your company stronger.
2) Hiring the wrong fit
Your company is only as strong as your team. In my experience, hiring mistakes lead to letting go of team members we care for. When you hire the wrong fit, you also risk employee turnover and a negative impact to your company culture.
While hiring mistakes can be extremely costly, they can also be extremely eye-opening. Hiring the wrong fit has led us to learn something new about our recruiting and interview process.
Letting go of team members is also a deeply emotional experience that has offered significant personal growth in becoming a stronger leader.
3) Losing a large client
If you’re a B2B business, your clients are an extension of your team. When you lose an important client, it feels like a huge hit to your company.
Take a step back and try to learn something from this experience. Obviously, you should re-evaluate your service, communication strategy, and deliverables. There is always something you can glean from client loss--and therefore something you can improve upon.
There’s also a less obvious learning here. Was this client the best fit for your company? If not, think about how you can shift your entire marketing and sales strategy to find prospective clients that are better suited for your company. This could lead to determining a better vertical, client size, or maturity level that will result in the best relationship. Client retention should improve as a result.
4) A lawsuit
Okay, there’s no way a lawsuit could be good news...right? Obviously, getting sued is stressful and scary--but when we had a small lawsuit come our way, we learned a lot.
The first thing we did was to hire an attorney. When we met with our attorney, we discovered that our errors & omissions policy in our insurance covered the lawsuit entirely. Within a few weeks, our insurance company settled the suit and we were just out a deductible. Had this lawsuit been larger in scope, this could’ve been a much more costly mistake. Having learned this lesson now will prevent this mistake in the future.
When you run a business, things like insurance and legal battles can be complex--but we believe that these things usually work out in the end. Plus, make sure you have professional liability insurance.
5) Doing too much
A few years back, we were presented with an opportunity to create a new department outside of our core competency. I assumed that if we hired great people with experience, this would be an easy transition. I was wrong.
Expanding your business can be a risk worth taking--but sometimes it doesn’t work out. For us, the new department required different organizational skills, pricing, and was a non-recurring revenue model. For these reasons, we decided to end the new department.
Now, we’re very careful when considering new services and new opportunities. Always be open to growth, but remember that success is never guaranteed.
To be honest, I could go on for days. The longer you’re an entrepreneur, the more mistakes you make. Don’t let the mistakes get you down. With the right mindset, every day will be a good day.