Mistakes made in the course of running a business are sometimes minor, yet costly. When making these errors there are two ways individuals typically handle them. First, are those who have a fixed mindset and think they’ll never be good at what they’re doing, then they try to throw out the mistake altogether. Next are those who have a progressive attitude and view a misstep as more of a wake up call, identifying what went wrong and adjusting accordingly.
With the latter mentality, business owners are able to turn errors – both of their own and those of their employees – into opportunities to learn and expand their company. In fact, several studies show that when we practice a new way of handling failure, it can change an error from something we fear into something we embrace. According to a University of California at Berkeley study published last year, people who were taught to be kind to themselves after making a mistake felt more motivated to look at their mistakes as a chance for growth. With my business, I had to accept my slipups and approach them step-by-step.
The first wrong turn I made was my misconception of the financial aspect of growing an enterprise. I had realized the eminent demand of the unique business model, but wasn’t able to secure the expansion budget needed from the bank. Instead of just giving up because the money wasn’t there, the best course of action was applying the franchising model. With the franchising model, the company grows with franchisee’s financial investment, so financing and expansion are taken care of together.
The next misstep I made was thinking franchising was going to be straightforward – there are many complexities to the industry. I didn’t know about all of the franchise associations, expos, and classes available for those just starting out in franchising.
I did the franchise process backward. I structured my business as a franchise first, then had to go back and defend my formation systems legally. I was constantly having to make adjustments, which led to spending twice as much time and money than necessary. Complicated legal procedures are significant to any business, especially because of the financial cost and needed money up front for legal fees, consulting, etc.
I learned the hard way that you need to have the right education from the beginning, no matter what new business model you are exploring. That is my number one piece of advice – get the education first in order to be really clear on what you’re getting into.
In the end, I figured out which problems could easily be overcome and which ones required more hard work. If a business is run with learning from early mistakes as a key principle, it will have the advantage over competitors who throw in the towel or unnecessarily let go of employees. CEOs and entrepreneurs must recognize failures and mistakes are all part of starting and growing a business, and learn to move past them in a positive and enlightened way.
Ken Jennings is the CEO of Mr. Rekey Locksmith and started his original company from the trunk of his car in 1995.
During the last 35 years, Ken has founded more than 40 businesses and spent time studying the success of other business leaders in thriving industries and applying them to his own business ventures. He also mentors numerous entrepreneurs in his hometown of Austin.
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