There is a saying floating around that has been attributed to a mix of brilliant scholars. I believe it actually came from Albert Einstein, but nonetheless it speaks a critical truth: “There are no such things as mistakes; there are simply ways not to do it.”
As entrepreneurs we are told to make mistakes. They tell us we can’t have progress without regress. We need to have failures, mistakes and crash & burns so that we can learn; so that we can keep pushing toward progress. Sadly, some of us are so fearful of failure that we find the safest route is to do nothing. We find comfort by simply staying in bed, eating some Ramen Noodles and watching Reno 911 reruns. Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do.
But, there is another serious problem and it is rarely talked about. There are some people that don’t learn from their mistakes, and indeed thrive on making the same mistakes over and over again. In my opinion, those folks are entrepreneurial idiots. My redneck buddies from VA Tech would call those fools, “Plain Ol’ Stoopids!”
Here is the problem: These Stoopid Entrepreneurs take the idea of making mistakes too literally. They take uncalculated, off-the-wall risks over and over. When things don’t work out, they instantly jump on to their next crazy scheme. It becomes an endless game of repeating pot shots. They take reoccurring and more extreme shots in the dark. The downward spiral grows and grows.
To be a successful first time entrepreneur you need to expect and accept mistakes. You shouldn’t go out of your way to make them, but when you do, don’t rush into the next thing! Instead, sit back, grab a brew and ask yourself some important questions:
- What were the errors you made? Why?
- Why did the results differ from what you expected?
- What needs to be adjusted so the next time you get your desired results?
- Where there any benefits from your mistake that you can exploit?
- Are there others that have made the same mistake? What can you learn from them?
- How can you avoid making this mistake again?
- Have you ever made this mistake before? If so, why in the hell did you repeat it?
You are not alone and you are not the first. I have made many, many entrepreneurial mistakes. One big enough that Inc. magazine kindly published an article called “Hey, We All Make Mistakes!” highlighting my blunder. Yes, I have made a ton of mistakes. But I have gained a crap load of knowledge from all of my errors. And I sure as hell make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice. That would make me just plain ol’ stoopid.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, just don’t make the same one twice. That would make you one of the Plain Ol’ Stoopids.
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