Thursday, December 3, 2015

2 Realities Business Owners Must Embrace

Making Decisions & Accepting Mistakes

by Henry Lopez

The list of realities for entrepreneurs is long. It’s definitely longer than just two. Entrepreneurs face and embrace a multitude of realities every day. There are countless books, and a seemingly endless supply of articles on this question: what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?

I agree with just about all of the content I have read on this topic over the years. The two realities of small business ownership I highlight in this article are not unique – they have been written about and discussed many times by others – but I think they are worthy of special consideration and focus. 

In my experience, making decisions and accepting mistakes are critical to successful business ownership and the two are tightly interrelated. If you accept responsibility and accountability for decision making, and understand that a business owner has to make lots of decisions, then you must also accept that not all of your decisions will be correct. You must, however, have the desire and courage to make those decisions. To be a successful small business owner, you also must try to learn from your mistakes and keep charging forward. 

Embracing Decision Making
Do you enjoy being the one person people come to for a decision? Do you embrace being in charge? Do you welcome having to make the hard choices? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, I don’t necessarily believe it means you are not cut out for entrepreneurship. Perhaps it just means you are being honest with yourself, which is great. The reality is, however, that you either already embrace being the decision maker or you need to learn quickly how to do so.  

In the corporate world, there are often executives above us who have to make the tough decisions. Or perhaps the decisions are made as a group and they gather consensus. The board of directors may be responsible for the overall decisions that guide a large company, leading to success or ruin. In the world of small business ownership, conversely, the decisions must be made by the owner. If you are fortunate, you may have partners or mentors whom you rely upon to help you make the tough calls, but most often it’s the lone entrepreneur who bears this responsibility for their business. 

To succeed as your own boss, I believe you have to want to be the person who makes the difficult decisions. It’s not that you don’t feel pressure and stress related to decision making, but instead it’s more about your confidence in your ability to do so. Furthermore, it’s probably one of the things you wanted and that drove you to become an entrepreneur in the first place. The freedom to choose your own path…to run your company the way you see fit.

Accepting Mistakes
All successful entrepreneurs will tell you that making mistakes, and learning from them, is an essential part of the process. As Henry Ford explained succinctly, “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” 

I believe you have to plan to succeed, but prepare to fail. That may sound self-defeating, but I accept it as the reality of being an entrepreneur. I can live with the probability that some of my ideas and decisions will be wrong, but I am confident that my experience and knowledge will lead me to more good ones than bad. Most days, I have confidence in my decision making abilities and I trust that my instincts will guide me in the right direction. On the bad days – the days when I fail – I try to learn from my mistakes and look forward to the next day when I can start anew. 

Small business owners must accept that mistakes are part of the process. If you are making enough decisions, then the odds are that some of them will be blunders. Nobody is capable of avoiding mistakes if they are truly taking risks and pushing beyond the status quo. If you try too hard to avoid mistakes, then you will likely over-analyze every move and become paralyzed. You can’t be afraid of making mistakes. You must accept this, and have confidence in yourself that most of your decisions will be right.

Others will probably be quick to point out when you stumble. I suspect those people are probably not small business owners! It’s certainly much easier to make no decisions and remain on the sidelines; all the while critiquing those who do make decisions, of course. It’s much harder, and braver, to apply your intellect, experiences and skills to predict the future – which is partly what decision our businesses require from us. 

This absolutely does not mean that we enjoy failure. I hate to fail! But when I do, I try to get past the grieving and self-pity phases as fast as possible and learn from it. I understand that I am not perfect, I don’t own a crystal ball that works consistently, and I have learned that with making lots of important decisions come some poor results. The famous football coach Vince Lombardi summed it up nicely when he said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Embracing and enjoying decision making, and accepting mistakes, is essential to a fruitful entrepreneurial life. When you make decisions – particularly the hard ones that help determine the future of your business – you are going to make some bad ones along the way. Sometimes, you make a lot of bad ones in a row! The successful entrepreneur understands that this is part of the process, and keeps moving forward. You must have confidence in yourself, and believe that you are capable of overcoming mistakes and making choices that keep you on the path to greatness.

No comments:

Post a Comment