One key trait of an entrepreneur that I continually work to sharpen my skill at is learning from the successes, mistakes and failures that I have had in my business, and life (as so often personal events contribute to both).
This week for example - Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law of ‘if anything will go wrong it will when you have a critical deadline or goal you are working on”...well I certainly had him chasing me. And a number of the situations that arose could have been prevented had I done a few things prior to all hell breaking loose.
Without going into all of the stressful detail, though it could help relieve the angst, bottom line was I entrusted an experienced/expert service provider to provide me thought leadership as well as direction regarding a new website I was having implemented. There was significant communications issues and breakdowns between myself and the developer that worked for this service provider (they communicate via email - LESSON 1). However when another business partner of mine working with me on my project also ran into communication issues, it became apparent that the issue was with them. I should have pulled the plug then - LESSON 2.
I attempted to get the owner on the line early in the week with no success - I should have pulled the plug then - LESSON 3
Being completed overwhelmed with work in preparation for a critical business trip and deadlines on additional projects, I trusted in this service provider that I had been paying that things were progressing and this website, a huge part of my business trip and deadlines, was being worked on - LESSON 4...I am really racking up the lessons, where are my successes?
Friday morning came around and the service provider calls and requests a boat load of content and documentation from me that I had not been aware I needed to provide and with 8 hours of meetings in front of me was not going to be able to get to - they put the delay and owness on me - LESSON 5...I attempted to cut them off then but am now so dependent on them to get this project done so I have it for my trip - LESSON 6...the lessons keep coming.
It is now Saturday morning, I jump on a plane later today and the 1 single thing that I need for this business trip is NOT there. As a matter of fact, mid afternoon following one last discussion to figure out options with them, I HAVE NOT HEARD FROM THEM SINCE! - Lesson 7
The point of all of this...is not JUST the lessons I learned from this experience, which I will outline what they are in a minute, but the fact that I have taken the time to sit down, look at all of the events that occurred with this project, and assess what worked and what didn’t work, and what solutions there are to either keep the good stuff happening and fixing or eliminating those things that did not work.
Entrepreneurs differ themselves from most business owners because they do take the time to assess, evaluate, and acknowledge both their failures and their successes. What have I learned from all of this:
1. Set expectations of how you work and are managed best; including your communication style. EMAIL communication is not my thing - though I do a lot of it. I prefer voice to voice (I know, amazing, right)
2. Do NOT assume anything when it comes to YOUR needs or requirements - you need to spell it out, document it, review it, ensure they fully understand it. Then you can trust them to get the work done (or address it)
3. When you are faced with an issue - address it head on regardless of the outcome (I could be further delayed in getting it done)
4. Either you or someone you delegate to need to be on top of any critical deadlines you have and ensure the two way communication of status - I should have engaged someone to oversee it and work it through for me
5. Though I do feel very strongly that I hire experts for their expertise and thought leadership, and that means THEY have responsibility to ensure I know what it is that I need to do in the scope of a project that I am NOT expert in, i.e. developing a website. And though this group never asked me 1 question up front at the time of the project, I should have prepared a laundry list of questions, next steps, assignments, what they needed from me, etc.
6. If issues continue and deadlines are at risk, ASSESS and ADJUST, even if that mean further delay. I should have cut them out when additional issues arose with them and my other business partner.
7. ADDRESS the issue upfront and adjust, even if it risks the deadline. I absolutely should have cut them off YESTERDAY.
So, my lessons have racked up with little success regarding this one project, but my other project with the other business partner (Todd Schnick of Intrepid LLC) worked out beautifully and I will have my marketing materials and investor collateral that I need. THANK YOU TODD SCHNICK.
What can you do to ensure you are honing your entrepreneurial skills when it comes to Successes and Failures:
1. Take time to sit and evaluate ‘what worked, what didn’t’ when it comes to any critical business activity or project you have, i.e. prospecting, sales meetings, marketing communication projects, project deadlines, employee performance, etc.
* You need to ensure your time and money is optimized and profitable - do NOT allow lack of time or focus, or insecurity stop you from learning from all of your experiences.
2. Ask your team or partners, anyone involved, to provide feedback regarding the particular situation, i.e. I have talked to my business partner, other peers, my employees involved, etc...and if I can get the other group on a phone, will discuss with them.
* Be open to feedback, good and bad, regarding you and anyone or anything else that impacted the outcome.
3. Assess throughout and be willing and prepared to adjust, even if it causes additional risk or delay or greatness (of your successes).
* It may cost you more, but think of the time and money wasted...or think about how you can replicate the things that went really well
Regardless if you have a success or failure...own it and learn from it.