What's the number one lesson you've learned from entrepreneurship?
What's the most important lesson you've learned from being an entrepreneur, or observing other entrepreneurs? How have you succeeded in fulfilling your main goals? How have you dealt with small failures along the way?
Many of the experiments I've been conducting to try and figure out to best service clients have been failing. I'd also like to know the best way to deal with these failures in order to more quickly reach success.
Entrepreneurship is not a solo event. Unfortunately, many young entrepreneurs believe that it is and as a result, overwork themselves. I am not talking about hard work being bad.... I am talking about the wrong work. To illustrate, I new a doctor friend that was expanding his practice...adding new offerings such as sleep therapy, blood lab, etc. Unfortunately, revenue was declining, his practice was shrinking, etc. He came to me for help so I asked him two questions: 1) What makes you money? His answer was that every patient he saw resulted in increased revenue. (2) When did you take a business start-up or business strategy course in you curriculum to becoming a doctor? The answer was "never". So he was working hard at all the wrong work. By not seeing as many patients, revenue began dropping. Entrepreneurs must surround themselves with others that augment their unique thinking and working style. As an entrepreneur myself, I suffered early on from the same issue, thinking I could do it all. And every new idea? well that became my new idea, my passion, my rabbit hole that sucked the energy away from what I really should have been doing. The small failures go unnoticed for a while..or at least pushed to the side. I usually takes a big Oh Oh moment to create that wake-up call. I went back to those small failures and saw the pattern, learned from the issues and put in place, alarm systems to make me stop, pause and think before reacting.
In regards to your experiments in servicing clients, what is the definition of a failure? I have done a lot of customer relationship consulting and find that usually, service is truly horrible (from the perspective of the customer) or service is truly horrible (from the expectation of the owner/entrepreneur). So stop and pause a moment and reflect first on your expectations and then on what customers need (first) and want (second). How are your expectations and the expectations of the customers aligned? You may just find out that your failures are not failures at all. I also suggest that you have a trusted second do the work....do the analysis....evaluate your and the customers' answers to the questions. And when you flinch because you don't like the answer, remember that you wanted another view, another opinion.
Dealing with "failures" can be problematic because of the emotion attached to the business. I recommend a short abbreviated process for controling that emoiion and dealing with the problem directly. Try the following:
1) Stop! Put your brain on a pause cycle and dwell on the definition of the failure. Is it really a failure? What defines it as a failure (list only the top 3 characteristics).
2) Ok, so it is a failure! What is the mechanism that failed? Was it people, process, equipment, ???? What is the likely hood that the failure will repeat on the next customer service event?
3) Let's assume that it is a disaster and will most likely happen again. What process change must take place to avoid the failure's trigger mechanism?
4) Put in changes and watch them like a hawk. Don't be distracted by other small slips...you have to focus on this big one.
5) On a routine basis, review your logs on issues, causes, triggers, new processes/fixes put in place, their efficacy and if still required.
Over time, if you don't weed the garden, the fixes will become a hodgepodge of things to do, the relevance and purpose of those things will be lost, and you will actually be worse off than before.
Good luck and thanks for the opportunity to provide my insight.
You need to be very strong. Never give up with failures because every business faces growth and failures. Second thing is time management.
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Hi Bryan, I've learned from entrepreneurship that it doesn't have to be a solo mission. For many, the allure of entrepreneurship is that you get to be in the driver's seat when it comes to making business decisions. Many entrepreneurs start off working by themselves or have a very small team under them. This is a pro of exploring entrepreneurship, but it doesn't mean you don't get lonely sometimes in your business. Despite having no upper management to answer to, there are numerous places you can go (online and offline) to get advice on your business situation. If you live close to a city, I would recommend searching for local innovation groups in your area. Most of these groups hold weekly networking events and it is a free way to connect with other entrepreneurs who are in the same phase of business as you. If you don't have time to connect offline, you can make use of online communities like Business.com, AMEX Open Forum, or Alignable to name a few. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
I'll give you three which I think apply to just about any type of business:
1. Make sure your business model and industry allows you to be scalable, automated, or ideally both.
2. The most important lesson is to ensure that your business model has the mechanical room to enable both scalability and automation for as much interaction as possible.
3. You only fail your goals when you don't learn your lesson the first time. Failure is part of the road, and you want to bathe in failure up-front as much as possible.
"you miss 100% of the shots you never take" - Wayne Gretzy said. That's number one lesson.
Everyone looks at failure as such a bad thing.. people really need a new name for it to get rid of the negative connotation. Failure is progress. Once upon a time you had nothing, no data, no clue, then you tried and failed and learned that that's how *not* to do it. Then you got up and walked and talked.
What I've learned from being an entrepreneur is that you just need to wake up and do it - - whatever it is you do, you need to do it perfectly every day whether people tell you it's going to work or not because "reality" isn't the mother of invention, creativity and will-power and persistence is.
I've succeeded in fulfilling my main goals so far by first saying what I want to do, how I'm going to do it, and then doing the work from the time I open my eyes in the morning until the time I close them.
I completely agree with your suggestion, James. It's critically important from nearly every standpoint to find out why failure is occurring, doing research (as you suggested), creating a hypothesis( if not several), testing, and analyzing the data. Data when collected properly doesn't lie, as I'm sure any good business person would recognize.
I guess that situation speaks volumes about your ex-boss.
Always be networking. You never know when you need a contact somewhere. People you met years ago might end up being valuable. Always nurture your relationships.