January is always a great time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. We make resolutions for our personal life, but what about our businesses? Personally, we may resolve to cut out unhealthy snacks, exercise more, be more present in the moment, or get rid of the clutter. What about your business? Does it have some unhealthy habits that could benefit from a little resolve? Are you ready to give up marketing “quick fixes” that have no ROI, impromptu flash sales to make quick cash to cover expenses, unfair comparisons or business envy, lack of confidence in your abilities or decisions, unwillingness to take risks and try new things, paying for monthly fees on services you don’t use… What are you doing differently in 2015?
2013 wasn’t great for my business. I made some mistakes – a couple big ones. I spent the end of last month really reflecting on them and writing out what I am going to do differently. Instead of spending a day to reflect on personal changes for the new year, I spent a couple weeks reflecting on both my personal life and my business and how they are connected. During that time, I thought about what *I* wanted, what I enjoyed, what was working for me, and what was working for others around me.
I realized my mistakes occurred when I did not trust my experience or my gut. When I think I can’t do something or am not interested in learning about it, I trust others too much. The problem with relying on others for key parts of your business is that you must share the same vision as they do. My vision was to build something mutually-beneficial to bring lots of fantastic mom-invented products to market while providing flexible income for stay-at-home moms. I was passionate about finding a solution, but also realized my strong skills are in coordinating, not motivating. So,I looked for someone to help. I worked with people who seemed to know the business. But, the problem was that they didn’t share the vision. I gave in to pressures to do business the way others “had always done it” despite the fact it didn’t “feel” right. But, *I* made the mistakes.
The biggest mistake I made was one that cost me both time and money. I purchased expensive, custom software before I needed it. I was shown spreadsheets and lots of logical reasons to make the decision. There were risks, and a huge potential upside. But, there was also a little voice in the back of my mind that had doubts. I should have listened to that voice. But, I didn’t. Now, I can’t change it and a lot of money is gone.
In college, a friend of mine in the dorms had a mantra that drove me crazy. I still remember the sting of the silly voice he used to say it each time one of our friends would get stuck on a mistake,
“Should’ve, Would’ve and Could’ves DON’T Count!“
They don’t count because you can’t change them. It’s done. Spending time beating myself up for what I SHOULD HAVE done is a waste of time.
While I was thinking about all of this, I came across a lesson from Barbara Corcoran in Forbes:
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Big Mistakes. All the best things that happened in my business happened on the heels of failure. Don’t be afraid to fail; it’s proof that you are meant to be a successful entrepreneur. The only difference between people who are hugely successful and those who aren’t is the time it takes them to get back up after getting knocked down.
I get it. Making mistakes and being knocked down feels awful. But, getting up afterwards is powerful, liberating. The trick is to do it quickly and move on. Once you do, new opportunities appear. They already have for me.
Experiencing this myself also taught me a lesson that helps me understand why so many smart people I meet continue with a business strategy even when it is not working. Before I cut the losses on my software mistake, I struggled for a couple months with what it meant to do make the difficult decision: Did cutting the software mean I was giving up? That the program didn’t work? That I failed? I kept thinking, “Maybe if I just try…”
It was like feeding bills into a slot machine. I kept thinking, if I just keep paying for it, the investment will eventually pay off, right? That strategy rarely works in gambling, or in business.
Business isn’t about a sudden break — an appearance on Oprah, a call from a major retailer, or big order that just pops up in your email. You have to push, try new things, make mistakes, get knocked down, and get up again. Each day.
Mistakes will help you breakthrough barriers. What worked before for others, what the “right way” is, what you did yesterday — all these strategies may not work today or tomorrow. You MUST try new things. Sometimes, success will follow. Other times, you’ll discover a mistake. Doing nothing or staying safe limits your potential. Mistakes open doors and allow us to grow and learn.
What will you do different in 2015? What chances will you take? Will you cut your losses somewhere or be more intentional about your plans? Personally, I resolve to trust my gut more, to listen to that little voice. And, I resolve to keep trying new things, even if it means making more mistakes.
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ― Neil Gaiman