Posts Tagged ‘Business mistakes’
I sent out a tweet the other day while I sat watching a squirrel aim/jump/miss/drop/repeat trying to get to my bird feeder. It was comical to see this creature’s tenacity. It just kept on trying but making the same mistake, over and over again. A friend tweeted back and said ” I think that squirrel might inspire a blog article. Something about making the same biz mistakes over and over again. hm.” She was right. And here’s my blog article in response.
First off, my inner soul likes to think there are no mistakes. Rather, I like to think of them as taking a wrong road, and then finding a better one. That’s what they said in Jonathan Living Seagull. Richard Bach wrote “There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.” Sound squishy, feely good? Yep.
Ok, now for a reality check. We do indeed make mistakes. Lots of them. It’s how we respond to them and move forward and grow that makes us better business owners.
Thinking about some of the mistakes I’ve made, I came up with five that I keep making all the time. Some of them I’m getting better at and fixing them so they don’t happen again. Your list might be different. Here’s mine.
1. Forgetting what you do best. Gosh, if I had a nickle for how many times I’ve made this mistake, I’d be quite rich. Times get tough, you figure you need to try something new to bring in new dollars. Poof, next thing you know you’re out in left field where you have no business being. You’ve forgotten what you do best. Regroup. Pick up the pieces and go back where you belong – doing what you know best. Ah, but can you recover fast enough?
2. Going after new and leaving current customers in the dust – this ties to what I said in point one. The economy was pretty tough last year. Many of us were scrounging around trying to get new customers and in the process, letting our existing customers languish forgotten by the wayside. Did we even call them to see how they were doing? Did we find out if there was something we could do to help them survive the crisis? Nope. Well, I fixed that and I’m doing exactly that. I work with ACT and ACT keeps track of customers. Right? So, why would I as a company want to go after new business, which costs more money, when, in fact, I should be going after my existing customer base. The right thing is to go back and look at who I haven’t talked to in several months and drop them a line, or make a call, or send a quick “how are you – hope all is well” note. This is what I’m helping my customers figure out – how to go mine the data in their ACT databases and find the people who have been forgotten and get back in touch.
3. Not learning from our mistakes and taking corrective actions – you would think this would be obvious, right? Wrong. We all come up with rationales as to why things didn’t work. Wrong time to roll out a product. Wrong time to hire new people. Economy was in the toilet. We didn’t put enough thought into the idea. You get the drift. If you find out you are going down the wrong path can you be nimble enough to stop the flow and move in the right direction? Can you even determine you are making a mistake before it’s too late? Boy, that’s a tough one. When you figure it out will you let me know?
4. Knowing when to say no – this again ties into number 1 and 2 in this list. Times are tough. Phones are not ringing. Call comes in about a project that you know in your heart of hearts you shouldn’t take on – but you say yes. You need the money. You need the work. You don’t want to say no. Sometimes, to make sure you stay alive and kicking as a business, you do indeed have to say no. No to the new process re-engineering effort. No to hiring a new person. No to changing the business model. No to the new client with unrealistic expectations. No to new work until you can manage what you already have on your plate. This one to me is probably the hardest mistake to handle, especially as a business owner.
5. Hiring the wrong people – been there done that. Fixed it when I hired my super star girl Friday who quickly became our top Level One support person and who rightfully should be promoted to Sr. Consultant. She keeps me on the straight and narrow. But, before her, I made one of the cardinal mistakes in business – I hired family. Not only once, but I did it twice. Bad mistake. The other mistake is hiring people who are looking for a step on their ladder to success – which will be somewhere else. Loyalty is something hard to find in people anymore. However, if you don’t make them feel that they are needed and trusted, why would they want to stay and be a loyal employee. So, in this case, you may have hired the right person, but didn’t give them the feedback they needed and it turned them into the wrong person. This whole number 5 could be a blog article all by itself. But I think you get the picture.
In summary, we will all make mistakes. Often, and many times the same one more than once. Our only hope is that we fall down, pick ourselves up, dust off our pants/skirts, and move on knowing that for sure, we won’t make that mistake again. Or if we do, we’ll be able to recover quickly. We hope.