Turning Business Mistakes Into Opportunities to Fuel Growth

In the midst of starting a business or embarking on a new venture, things may not always be perfect. But if it was easy everyone would do it, right?

We’ll take a look at three tips to help turn mistakes or mishaps into opportunities to learn, grow and develop.

Let’s face it. Sometimes things don’t go according to the plan (“stuff” has hit the proverbial fan). You make mistakes. You feel like you’ve let your team down. You wish you could hit the ‘redo’ button.

But the reality is this is inevitable — especially in the startup or new business world where you’re moving 100+ mph on what feels like a frequent rollercoaster. Moving between product launches, client meetings, business development and more. 

Truth is, without mistakes, how would we learn?

How would we discover what to change or improve? Or uncover something you’ve been missing for your business? 

As H. Stanley Judd said,

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.

Or Elbert Hubbard

The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one.

Or Teddy Roosevelt…

The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. Do not be afraid to make mistakes providing you do not make the same one twice.

While easier said than done, it’s important to try and look at mistakes as opportunities to:

Stop, reflect and realign
Let’s face it, everyone is busy.

Projects, proposals, deadlines, client meetings. The list goes on. We’re all moving so fast — and while exciting, it's inevitable something may slip through the cracks.

Take it as a reminder to pause. Is what’s top of mind actually the most important? Are you directing your energy on the most important things for your business?

Reflection and refocus are key.

Try this:

Take a look at your current list of priorities and activities.

Map out what can be done quickly, and knock those out. Better to cross them off the list then delay. Also map out the high impact activities that will require more of your time and attention.

Blocking off  “busy” time on your calendar can be a helpful way to carve out time to properly focus on the big ticket items. 

Look back at the situation. What could be improved or done differently?

What steps can be taken to help reduce the likelihood of a similar situation? Let preparation be your ally. 

Try this:

Team retrospective or “retros” are a great way to do this. We often hold “retros” after big projects or launches, grabbing a whiteboard and collectively recapping what worked well, what were issues or roadblocks we came across and what are areas to improve next time.

Keep in mind, generally best to hold these as close to launch or project completion as possible while things are still fresh in everyone’s mind. 

Move Forward
Sorry for the sports analogy here, but this makes me think of a pitcher having a ‘short-term memory.’

In the midst of a game, they may give up a major home run (maybe two or even three). Could they dwell on this and let the rest of the game slip away? Sure.

But what separates the great players from the average ones is the ability to quickly shake it off and recover — because the next action is more important.

Try this:

Building off the lessons learned, come up with a game plan of near and mid-term steps you can take to bounce back.

Think about how you could anticipate similar situations in the future and how you would respond. This is also a great time to reconnect and seek advice from a mentor.

They’ve likely encountered similar situations in the past and can offer great perspective to how you reframe as you move forward. 

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur hustling to get a business or startup off the ground or are a seasoned vet,  we all make mistakes — but always be learning and looking for ways to improve each day!