Friday, Dec. 1st 2017

Made a Bad Business Decision? Learn from It. Keep Going.

tim-sernettWritten by Tim Sernett, Accounting & Finance Advisor for SMBs | Owner-Virtual BeanCounters Inc | Entrepreneurship enthusiast | Dad | Sports nut

As business owners there is no job description that clearly lays out…‘These are the tasks you must accomplish every day and this is how it’s done’.

You’re building a business based on a vision of what you would like it to be, but there’s typically no blueprint on how to get there. If we’re honest, we’re really all making this up as we go.

Every day you’re making decisions (often not knowing how they’ll turn out) that you hope will get you a little closer to what you want your business to look like.

Decisions on product or service development, marketing, selling, pricing, hiring, firing, work processes, vendors, consultants, and on and on. Admit it, after all the analysis, most of the business decisions we make are based on educated guesses, gut feel, and hoped-for results.

And what’s the net result of all those decisions?

Sometimes the best you can hope for is that you learn from your decisions and move on to the future with more educated guesses. As entrepreneurs we’re all just on a creative journey to figure things out. The most important point is that you learn from the results of every decision you make.

It’s your attitude toward making big decisions that makes the biggest difference on how fast you move your business forward. It’s the attitude of ‘What am I going to learn from this?’, or ‘What will this decision teach me about moving my business forward in a better way?’.

badgoodHaving that “What can I learn?” attitude is going to help you move much faster and keep driving the business forward.

It works a lot better than “What if I make a bad decision?” or “What if this doesn’t work?”, which causes overthinking and paralysis by analysis.

Could a few decisions have been better if you’d spent more time analyzing all the angles, all the potential outcomes, all the pros and cons?

Perhaps, but maybe not. No matter how fast you move, if you’re growing and driving your business forward, you’ll create messes.

Every business owner screws up. And if you’ve been in business more than a few minutes, you’ve likely had some major messes. Bad hires who sucked up your time and company culture, marketing campaigns that flopped and only sucked up money, selling to bad customers who sucked up profits, and on and on. Sucking seems to be a theme here.

So what! Move on, keep making the big decisions and keep driving your business forward.

Stop dwelling on the mess that a bad decision created. Understand that you shouldn’t necessarily have known the thing that you now know. You didn’t fail…you LEARNED.

I challenge you, when you’ve created a mess, congratulate yourself for having the courage to make a decision and learn from it. Great job! Make enough mistakes, learn enough, and pretty soon you’ll be moving closer and closer to the business you envision.

Finally, don’t have too much pride in your own decisions that you can’t let go of bad decisions. Just because it was your decision and your plan doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. Let it go if it’s not working. How many times have you hung on to bad decisions because it was your decision, thinking it just needs a little more time to work out, but the results continue to suck?

Cut bait and move on. Stop beating yourself up over bad decisions. It’s a real issue for entrepreneurs. Give yourself a break. Considering the volume and variety of decisions that have to be made every day, you have to be able to take a punch and move on.

The best business owners I know do this. They’re not afraid to take risks and make quick decisions. They analyze results often, go with momentum and move on quickly from bad decisions.

What about you? How do you handle decisions that didn’t work out? Would love to hear your story.


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