Jason Grill: 3 Ways Failure Can Help Build a Business and Mistakes to Avoid

110901_grill_arenaGrowing up I always admired the play of Michael Jordan. In my opinion, he is the best basketball player of all-time. However, at the time he was playing professional basketball I never imagined him to ever be a failure or make mistakes. Recently, I came across this quote from Michael Jordan. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Air Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along the way.

Echoing MJ’s sentiment here are 3 ways failure can help build a business and some mistakes to avoid.

1.  Always Thinking Growing Big Fast Is Best

Many people believe growing your company with numbers and employees quick is always a great thing and will make you more successful. This isn’t always the case. Many times people learn this the hard way and fail fast with the impression that having a lot of people around you in-house will make you more profitable and successful. They fail financially and have smaller profits because of all the other costs involved. As a small business owner many times it makes much more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutual beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep your overhead costs lower and not have the stress of numerous employees as you begin to grow your profits. You won’t have to worry about everything else. Working with other businesses that might be bigger or offer more backend support allows you to do what you do best, while at the same time utilizing the strengths of the other partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often times way more profitable then growing fast within.

2.  Never Saying the Word “No”

As a small business owner and entrepreneur it’s always tough to say or use the word “no.” As you begin your business you want to be everywhere and be everything to potential clients. It’s very hard not to do this at the beginning. If your business is somewhat successful even at an early stage you will be asked many times to coffees, lunches and events. At some point you have to say no to some people, free services and advice or meetings in order to continue to move forward in your business. On the flip side of the coin you must say no to potential clients or projects you don’t want to really work on. I understand as a small business it’s sometimes hard to say no to a decent paycheck and short-term reward, but if you don’t you will regret it. By saying no to projects or clients your heart isn’t in to and your mind isn’t truly focused on will allow you to work on those opportunities you really enjoy. This will allow you to leverage your strengths more. You will produce a much better product and your work will be stronger. Walking away from something in the short term will help you build the portfolio you want over the long term.

3.  Planning Way Too Much

Many times small business want to plan every little thing out from the top to the bottom. We want to control everything and make sure it’s exactly what we had in our original plan. Small businesses find themselves spending all their time planning out the future instead of being mindful of the present. Why do these small business plans fail? They fail because too much time is spent on process and plan and not on execution. The Harvard Business School says 90 percent of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. Fortune Magazine says 70 percent of CEO failures come not as a result of poor strategy, but of poor execution. As small business owners it’s always good to remember to iterate and not to ever hesitate. Execution trumps devising another elaborate, time consuming process or plan every time.

Life is a journey and not a destination. Failure and mistakes are going to happen along the way. Always remember if you don’t experience failure you will never learn or experience what success can be. Don’t ever dwell on your business failures, learn from your mistakes and always remember to be resilient and persevere.

(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from The Huffington Post).


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