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How To Learn From Your Small Business Mistakes

Every small business owner makes mistakes.  Some make more mistakes than others and some mistakes are more serious than others, but irrelevant of any other affecting factor, all small business owners are joined together by the fact they all makes mistakes.

And when a mistake is made, it can seem like one of the worst things in the world.  Even if it’s a relatively minor mistake, the fact it’s been made can make you feel like somewhat of a failure.  That’s even if you fully understand that making mistakes is something all of your fellow small business owners do, too.

But whilst you can be tempted to brush everything under the carpet, putting any thought of the mistake to the back of your mind as quickly as you possibly can, it’s actually strongly recommended to do anything but, as the truth is you can learn from all of your mistakes – you just need to know how best to start doing so.

Write everything down

And one of the first things you should do is write everything down.

When you’ve made a mistake, it’s highly likely you’ve got what seems like a billion thoughts about it all going round in your head.  What you did.  Why you did it.  What actually went wrong.  What the result of it was.  What you could have done to prevent it.  What would have happened instead if you did do something else.

As great as the human brain is, when you’re trying to make sense of a situation, it’s best to get everything down on paper so you can physically see it all.  This way, you’re in a better position to organise your thoughts and aren’t at risk of something slipping to the back of your mind at some point and never reemerging.


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Don’t hide the facts

When you begin to write everything down, don’t be tempted to hide anything.  Yes, writing something down can make it seem all that more real and therefore make you feel as though you want to ignore it, but the simple fact is this is going to get you know where.

Especially where more serious mistakes have been made (or mistakes that have had serious consequences), the only way you can truly benefit from them is by being brutally open and honest with yourself.  Write everything you can think of down, no matter how criticising of yourself it may be, as this way you can be certain you can move forward based on the most accurate information.

Understand what went wrong

When you’ve got everything down and you’re certain you’re looking at all of the information to do with the mistake, the only way you can ever learn from it is by understanding what went wrong in the first place.

Now this may be something simple and blatantly obvious, but in many other instances it can take a lot of analysing of your written comments.  There might not even be one main reason why the mistake was made, but instead a handful of smaller components.

Whatever it is, however, by working backwards from the effect of the mistake, you should be able to distinguish it – and from this point on, you’ll have the knowledge to start working out what needs to be done to ensure such a mistake isn’t made again in the future (or at the very least, isn’t made in the same way again).

Everyone – whether you’re a small business owner or not – makes mistakes and on occasion, they can have particularly negative consequences.  But no matter what the mistake is or what the result of it being made is, you can always learn, develop and move forward from it as long as you understand just how to begin doing so.

This post was originally featured on April 9, 2013.

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