Do you appreciate the success you enjoy right now? Are you grateful for the ups and downs you experience in your entrepreneurial journey? If you don’t, then I suggest that you should learn to be appreciative, for better or worse. Why? Read on…
Do you know the worst feeling you can have when running a business? That’s right – failing. Not necessarily going out of business, but a decline in sales and market share is enough to keep you awake during the night, not mentioning occasional nightmares.
I know the feeling; I have failed numerous times, including 2 subsequent situation when I lost 2 business service centers (UPS-like, but it’s a local brand name) in a span of less than 1 year – that’s back in 2007.
It’s a bumpy road, but that’s entrepreneurship is all about, I conclude. You need to be ready to go through the ups and downs and you need to be ready for surprises – good or bad.
I always amazed how your business and personal journey can teach you on how to be a better person. I always amazed how failures can make you a better person; on contrary, I have proven myself that success is a really, really bad teacher.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose” – Bill Gates
I agree, Mr. Gates – you are 100% correct!
How I prove that Mr. Gates is correct
I have recently failed again, losing nearly 50 percent of my income. Not a going-out-of-business kind of failure, but 50 percent is quite aplenty, don’t you think?
I acknowledge that I procrastinate, in a sense that I stop trying to get out of my comfort zone. I stop innovating; I stop pursuing “different” opportunities. All in all, I stop being an entrepreneur and start being some who is seduced into thinking that I am, indeed, an expert in my niche and stay in the comfort zone.
What’s my biggest mistake? Let’s say that I take things for granted.
I felt that I know my business well; I felt that I know how things work – why? Because my smallish business is going to the right direction. I am happy with the growth, but lack gratitude for the opportunity God has given me.
I started to see my business the way Bill Gates describe; I started to think that I can’t lose. It seemed that I was flying and my feet were 10 inches above the ground.
And it’s true – the higher you fly, the more painful your fall will be.
Lessons well learned – it’s time to move on.
In fact, Biz Penguin was established partly due to this recent failure. Let’s say that Biz Penguin is a part of my entrepreneurship journey 2.0 – enhanced, wiser, better, and constantly out-of-comfort zone.
Today, I pursue what I should pursue about 2 years ago. I was late, and the impact was devastating: My main business were smashed into pieces. Nevertheless, I picked up the shattered pieces and push the restart button.
All in all, I came up alive and well. As I am a big believer of kaizen (continuous learning,) I try to learn as much as I can from my mistakes. Here’s what I have learned (the hard way):
1. Don’t take things for granted
When you are successful, you tend to get caught off-guard; you start to take things for granted. Well, you should sober up and put things in perspective. Don’t let success make you think that your are invisible and invincible.
Be sure you understand that there are competitors out there who are more than willing to take your place if you are unaware.
2. Be grateful for your business
Be thankful that you have reached milestones with your business. Be grateful that although it’s probably still far from your target, your business is progressing well.
Acknowledge that what you and your team have achieved is pretty cool – thanks to your clients, website visitors, leads, prospects and anyone else who make it happens.
Please bear in mind, grateful is not boastful. If you want to enjoy sustainable success, then you should learn how to keep yourself grounded.
3. Embrace failures – they are the best teacher
The best teacher of all for me is still failures. They can’t replace expert tips and mentor guidance. While business mentors and experts can guide you by hand, you must experience yourself how it feels to fail; how it feels to make wrong decisions and suffer the consequences.
Serial entrepreneurs embrace this well – often, they start a business knowing that they will quite possibly fail miserably. Startups in Silicon Valley, CA embrace failures as a culture; they openly share their failures with fellow entrepreneurs.
Fail fast seems to be a good mantra; why? Because when you fail faster, you are closer to success – that’s just the way it is and its impact is prominent in my entrepreneurial journey.
I mentioned about the thing I should do 2 years ago before the revenue slump begin. Do you know what that thing is? Fail fast. My mistake is that I stop being innovative and stop using failures to learn more, faster. I play safe and what playing safe is giving me is 2 years of lies and yet another proof that success is, indeed, a lousy teacher.
4. Learn continuously!
This is the key in entrepreneurship. If you feel you are learning enough, then entrepreneurship might not be for you.
Entrepreneurs today must be multi-faceted. To be competitive, they need to discover opportunities, which are often only available for the ones with the knowledge. If you don’t have it, you need to acquire it. It’s that simple!
For instance, I am interested in getting into the mobile app business. While mastering the programming languages related to app development is not necessary, you do need to know how things work with app development and launch – you need to understand which kind of apps do the market want; you need to know how to get the most of your listing on, say, Google Play or Apple App Store.
I need to invest my time and sometimes money to learn about the business.
5. Share and give back to the community
Are you a successful blogger? Teach others how to be one. Are you a successful chef, like UK’s Jamie Oliver? Share your recipes.
There is no better way to be grateful for your business than sharing what you know or giving back to the community. Of course, you shouldn’t share your trade secret; there are many other things you can choose to share with others.
You see, we live in a society of “I wish I do that” – “I wish I hire the right staffs…” “I wish I do a better research before I launch my product…” “I wish I sell my business early…”
As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t dwell in the past. You need to realise that entrepreneurs are bound to make mistakes – they deal with risks and the unknowns.
So, what’s best for you to do is to learn as much as you can from your mistakes and move on.
Thanks for reading!