Recently I interviewed Shane Bradley – former owner of GrabOne and founder of new online retailer pet.co.nz. Shane’s top tip for small business owners was this: “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough”. He told me about his first business, which went under due to bad debts. It was humiliating and humbling he said. To go from being a big shot to a big nobody virtually overnight… not a nice feeling! But he vowed to get back in business again… and boy did he keep his promise to himself. His business career is full of bold decisions, where he jumped in the deep end and learned to swim very quickly.
I’m sure every successful business owner has horror stories to tell of the things they did badly. Many of my mistakes happened when I tried to hire people. I pretty much did everything wrong. In my first business I wrote my own employment contract. It was a personal grievance where even my own lawyer laughed at me that taught me this was not a good idea. Later on, not following due process in a genuine re-structure cost me $40,000. I learned the hard way to bring an expert HR person in to sort out my recruitment and management processes.
I also started off doing all my own data entry into MYOB… a copy writer doing accounts… mmm… big mistake right there. Imagine the nightmare my accountant faced when it came to year end accounts!
The lesson is, to quote a famous brand, just do it. Leap in, do the best you can and learn on the job. Like Shane I’m a believer in going for it, giving it your all and being willing to make the odd mistake. I can tell you from experience, you only ever make the same mistake once.
Love to hear your mistake stories… when did you stuff up and what did you learn from it?
PS. For more of the interview with Shane Bradley, buy this month’s copy of NZ Business Magazine and look for my column, The Exit Factor
From the desk Liber8me. Business mentor and author of soon to be released book, Liber8 Your Business.