Anyone who has ever started a business has made a mistake or two or three. While most people accept that slip-ups are unavoidable, entrepreneurs often don’t like to own up to making mistakes. There are certain behaviors or misguided decisions that get in the way of small business owners taking their business to the next level. The key is to learn from and overcome your mishaps.
BlackEnterprise.com checked in with of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. The question put forth to their members: what are some of the biggest mistakes you made in business and how did you overcome them? Here’s what they had to say.
1. Not Asking the Right Questions
The more scared you are to ask a question the more important it is for you to ask it. Early in my career I was afraid to ask the tough questions, and it was costing me; literally. I finally took a just go for it attitude and, like many things, asking hard questions wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Having polite, frank and direct conversations is essential to any successful business.
— Derek Hunter, William Roam
2. Talent Mismatch
Early on, I mistakenly attempted to get my CFOs to do business development. When this experiment fell flat, I realized that instead of trying to make square pegs fit round holes, I should have enabled people to play to their core strengths. I hired a senior sales director and a business development team to focus on growing sales which I should have done in the first place.
— David Ehrenberg , Early Growth Financial Services
3. Not Delegating Fast Enough
As a founder, I want to show my employees that I’m not above doing anything, even if the office toilet backs up. But employees are eager to learn and grow and the only way for them to do that is to own the job aspects I once did. For us, the best way to retain talent is to delegate more and give everyone career growth and job fulfillment.
— Michael Portman , Birds Barbershop
4. Becoming Complacent
As Andy Grove said, “Only the paranoid survive.” During fast growth phases, I’ve made the mistake of not spending enough time thinking about what’s around the corner. It’s easy to ride the wave of success, but if you’re not paranoid about the next competitor, market change, regulation or shift in customer needs/attitudes, you will miss the opportunity or worse.
— Jeremy Brandt , WeBuyHouses.com
5. Taking Things Personally
I took things too personally early on. I would get bent out of shape if we didn’t sign a client or if a potential partnership or collaboration didn’t pan out. I quickly learned that “it’s just business” and began to just brush it off and move onto the next goal. Dwelling on things that are out of your control wastes valuable energy that can be used for more productive purposes.
— Jonathan Long , Market Domination Media
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