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Success Through Failure: The Value of Making Mistakes

For anyone that starts a business venture, or operates a business, they know that the endeavor is filled with ups and downs. No business runs smoothly 100% of the time, and failure always looms over even the most successful business. On the road to success in business, there are achievements and setbacks alike. Most business owners appreciate the achievements, yet fear the setbacks. The simple fact in business is this: mistakes will be made, and these mistakes represent a powerful learning tool that business owners are wise to heed.

Making a Mistake in Business: Fear vs. Value

When we make a mistake in our lives, we must often deal with the fear and uncertainty that mistake creates. The same applies in business; it is how we address that fear that shapes the business’s future. Thought leaders have indicated for years that success only comes when we take risks – without taking a gamble, we may be unable to achieve the success that we desire. The key, then, is to balance the fear of failure against the potential value a mistake has for our business operations.

What does that mean? When a business owner has a setback – a major equipment failure, a decline in sales, or the loss of a key partner, just to name a few of the many possible setbacks – he or she may be overcome with the fear of failure. As General George Patton once said, “When there is a fear of failure, there is failure.” In other words, if we believe that our failures, setbacks, or mistakes in business cannot be overcome, we will fail. The truth is, however, that there are tremendous values to be found in making mistakes, and if a business owner is able to recognize those values, he or she no longer has to fear failure.

Value in Mistakes

What are some of the values to be found in making business mistakes? The first is in recognizing that things will not always operate with the smoothness and regularity we desire. Any business, regardless of longevity or profits, will experience a downturn that can negatively affect prospects. This is perfectly normal, and by recognizing that, we can make the adjustments needed to overcome any challenge.

As mentioned earlier, mistakes are a powerful learning tool. They can show business owners what isn’t working in the operation and can point to solutions that eliminate similar mistakes in the future. Take, for example, a sales campaign that is not producing the desired results. Business owners who are receptive to learning from mistakes will recognize that the existing campaign requires modification to begin producing results. That can mean altering the pitch of sales initiatives, bringing on an outside sales team, or even focusing on building relationships with existing customers rather than spending money generating new leads.

Other values to be found in business mistakes include:

Determination: maintaining a business after a mistake is made — and taking corrective action immediately – can spell the difference between success and failure. Perseverance is key; without perseverance, it is all too easy to give up when a setback occurs.

Knowledge:  mistakes teach us what works and what doesn’t. This knowledge is extremely powerful, and can point to new ways of approaching business operations.

Resourcefulness: it has been said that it is not the mistakes we make, but how we respond to those mistakes, that signal future success. Revisiting operations that aren’t working, and making the changes needed to improve results, help the business to overcome the challenges it will face on the road to continued success.

Flexibility:  Flexibility is a desired aspect of any business operation. Weathering the changes, including the ups and downs inherent in a dynamic business environment, requires some level of flexibility. This attribute allows the business to adjust operations and strategies quickly to meet emerging demands. The best business leaders relish a challenge, and flexibility gives the business the tools it needs to achieve new levels of success.

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