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Little Failures Are Often More Important to Entrepreneurs Than Big Successes. You Learn More!

bigstock_Crossing_Out_Failure_And_Writi_4820592In my years of coaching baseball, I used to, sometimes, upset my players by telling them that I wished we lost more because we would learn more. Teams rarely analyze a victory in the same depth that they analyze a loss. We lost because we didn't do this, or because we did that too much, etc. We won because we were good. You get it.

Small businesses are much the same way. Big successes are celebrated, but rarely analyzed as to what made them a success. You beat the competition. Your product dazzled the IT manager or your presentation just knocked the board out of their seats! Again you get the picture. But how about when your small business loses one? Or when a customer decides they no longer want to do business with you? How much do you learn from these little failures? Because it is here that real learning and true growth actually happens for entrepreneurs.

How often do you do a "post mortem" on a lost sale? I used to urge my sales people, after a loss, to ask the prospect if they would spend 15 minutes, maximum on the phone with them, to help them understand what we could have done better to have won their business. We would get three things out of this.

First, we would learn if there was something we could have done differently, even if it was just a price concession, that might have changed the result. Second, we would learn if we had done something wrong - like maybe, we were too "heavy-handed" in our discussion of competition, or applied too much pressure to individual members of the committee making the decision. And third, but most important, we got in a final "touch point" with the prospect, that would show and solidify our professionalism (no hard feelings) and enable us to "keep the lines of communication open" for future business.

You can and should do this whenever and wherever failures, be they minor or major, occur. A project deadline missed by a mile. A particular new product feature that caused a product recall. A new hire that turned out badly, quickly.

Entrepreneurs need to learn from their failures. First and foremost, learn why the failure occurred and what you can do to turn past failure into future success. Second, and nearly as important, no blame game. When the successes come, small businesses should celebrate as a company. So to when the failures come, small business should learn from that as a company.

And those successes? Of course, you can learn from those as well. For they, potentially, create a model for future success. But, at the end of the day, small business owners learn more from their failures. With success, ego always plays a role (hey, we're good). With failures, big and small, you feel way more vulnerable (we screwed up) and much more open to learn.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!


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