I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of mistakes. Most entrepreneurs are risk-takers. We take chances, and many of those fail to pay off. But if you’re lucky, you’ll fail your way to success.
For the sake of the company’s image, we often feel the need to only share our triumphs. When people ask “How’s business?” you’re not likely to hear, “Well, I had to put payroll on my credit card” or “My staff are plotting to compete against me.” So when we find ourselves faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacles or business instability, we shut the world out and focus on the task at hand.
Over time, I’ve learned to do exactly what most business leaders avoid: openly admitting mistakes. Leveraging my peers, I’ve been able to establish a network of smart, trusted supporters whom I can count on. This is one of the most valuable assets any entrepreneur can have—when you have it, amazing things happen. Here are three of the most important lessons I’ve learned from opening up to other entrepreneurs.
You’re already making mistakes
You don’t know what you don’t know. I knew I wanted more from my life, but I didn’t know what that meant, or how to achieve it. That changed at an event I attended in Barcelona. At the buffet I engaged with someone who told me that he met someone from Vancouver who changed his life through a Values Auction, and it ended up changing mine too. That conversation eventually exposed me to my personal core value and the realization that I had spent more than 10 years building a business that never reflected them.
I was operating the wrong business! Once I understood what I truly yearned for, opportunities began to flood in. It’s like buying a new car, and seeing countless others of the same model on the road just like it. For me this meant revealing the values in my company, learning how to identify others who had the same values, aligning our processes and systems to perpetuate the values, and eventually exiting for 10 times normalized earnings.
“Business is good,” isn’t good enough
Imagine yourself standing at your wedding altar, about to commit to your betrothed. You’re not just saying “yes” to your loved one, you are also saying “no” to everyone else. Your business of choice should be viewed the same way. As an entrepreneur, you have a unique capacity to create, overcome adversity, persevere and grow. Entrepreneurs are a gift to society, and where you place your gift should be carefully considered.
A business group is an amazing opportunity to share and bounce ideas off other entrepreneurs. It is precisely because I immersed myself with growing and experienced peers that I was able to formulate the concepts and structure of my latest and most meaningful business.
I’m now building a business with a triple bottom line, one that I hope will affect the entire world. I spend eight weeks each year travelling with my family and filled my passport in only two years. If you don’t open up you may never realize that your “good life” or “good business” may not be good enough.
We don’t all have to learn the hard way
Once you start opening up to other entrepreneurs you instantly open yourself up to an endless source of information. A network of leaders who you trust and believe in and who openly share their lessons, trials and wisdoms, is a far faster and less expensive way to grow your business and life than trial and error.
When I decided to change the entire direction of my business to align with my core values, my network supported me. When my staff revolted against me they gave me insight and invaluable feedback. When I had troubles in my marriage, they loved and cared for me.
Some of the biggest mistakes in life yield the best lesson. When you open up about these you not only gain insight into your own mistakes, but have a rare opportunity to learn from the expensive mistakes made by others.
Entrepreneurs take chances that can fail. Never be afraid of making mistakes, and when you do, having a group of likeminded entrepreneurs around you can make all of the difference.
David Katz is the acting president of the Vancouver Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. He is also the founder and president of The Plastic Bank, the world’s only organization to monetize plastic waste.
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Do you agree? Do you share your failures with other entrepreneurs? Share your thoughts and experiences using the comments section below.