Business Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

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While hosting a recent strategy session, the client mentioned several times that she’s not where she wants to be in her business and she doesn’t see herself getting to where “you are”.

We worked on her specific areas of concern and she has an action list — that said, it got me to wondering:

How many other business owners are thinking similar things and letting those thoughts get them down?

It’s important to note that successful business owners, myself included, didn’t wake up one morning to a successful business.  We’ve had tough times, we’ve made mistakes and — this is key — we learned from them.

Here’s a sampling of the mistakes I’ve made over the years and lessons learned:

  • Mistake: Waited too long to hire an assistant.  Lesson Learned: My working 14-hour days to figure out how to create a webpage was a poor use of my time and resources when I could have hired someone to complete the project in 1/10th the time while I focused on creating revenue to pay for the project.
  • Mistake: Waiting a couple of months to send out my first newsletter as it wasn’t “perfect”. Lesson Learned: Better done than a masterpiece in the works which never sees the light of day.  Once I sent out that first, rather-ugly-to-be-honest newsletter (which I’d spent days working on), I got a client.  With few exceptions, I’ve sent out a weekly newsletter every week for the last 5+ years.
  • Mistake: Comparing myself to others.  Lesson Learned: I’ve no idea of their personal circumstances, values, background, etc. and their journey isn’t mine.  Stay focused on my business with my values and the Universe responds.
  • Mistake:  Assume that others remember me: who I am, what I offer, etc. and will “think of me” when necessary.  Lesson Learned: It’s not their responsibility to remember me, it’s my responsibility to be memorable and to follow-up with those I want to have relationships with.
  • Mistake: Discussed what I thought was a great business offering with a colleague who didn’t think it was a great idea and so I let it drop.  3 months later, the colleague implemented the exact idea and it has been so lucrative, it’s now her main business.  Lesson Learned:  Solicit feedback, ask for help, and do my homework — make decision from a place of knowledge rather than someone else’s feelings of whether it will/will not work.  In the end, it’s my business and I’m responsible for its success.
  • Mistake: Invested over $20,000 (not a typo) in a program and assumed (dangerous word) that the program host would give me the info I needed and would give me exposure.  In the last month, I learned that I was supposed to ask for things and when I asked was told it was too late unless I wanted to resign-up.  Lesson Learned: Ask questions and be clear about what is/is not included before investing.
  • Mistake: Thought that asking my mentor questions at times other than our specific call times was “bothering” her and I shouldn’t do.  Lesson Learned: 1/ See last mistake and know what’s included — with one mentor, it took 3 weeks to get a response (and “yes”, I cancelled that program) and 2/ I make it very clear to my private clients that if they have any questions, they should let me know immediately as I can often answer quickly, saving them time, frustration and often money.

There are several other mistakes that I’ve made and witnessed and I’m sure you can add your own to the list.  The mistake isn’t what’s important — it’s how and what we learn from it.

Please leave a comment sharing what you’ve learned — it’s a great way to give back and help others while recognizing how far you’ve come. 🙂