Learning from business mistakes – why it’s important and how to do it

As we look back over the quarter and even over the year, it’s important to celebrate our successes and identify the strengths we should be nurturing.

But it’s even more important to review what went wrong. By learning from our mistakes, we can turn them into positives, improving our business practice and growing as professionals.

In this blog, we look at why it’s important to learn from our mistakes, and how to go about it.

Why are mistakes important learning points?

While it can be painful to review what went wrong, it’s important to do it. This is because we can learn a lot more from the mistakes we made than we can from everything going well.

Mistakes show us very clearly what we should have done – and even more clearly if we have lost money or damaged our reputation in the process. Perhaps we put too much trust in a team member and they didn’t complete the work to the right standard. Perhaps we chose a supplier because they were cheap, only to discover they make their savings by not delivering on time.

If we push the bad experience to the back of our minds and pretend it didn’t happen, we might repeat the mistake. If we find it too embarrassing to talk about when we dropped the ball, our colleagues won’t know what can go wrong and might end up letting down the business themselves.   

But if instead we learn from these experiences, we turn these negatives into positives which can drive business growth. When we put processes in place to prevent the mistake happening again, the result is a robust management toolkit and thorough tendering process, ready for us to use in future and take our business to the next level.

How can we find the learning points in a problem situation?

It’s very easy to say, “learn from your mistakes,” but how do we actually do that?

The first step is to admit that the mistake happened, and take responsibility if it was our fault. Doing this in an open and honest way will usually impress your team and get them onside – being able to admit our faults is a strength, not a weakness.

Then we have to unpick the situation and get to the heart of the problem. It can be very motivating to remember that we are not doing this so we know who to sack; instead, we’re looking for ways to improve our business.

It’s important to unpick the problem because sometimes the problem is not where we think it is. Take the underperforming staff member, for example. It might not be their fault that they underperformed. It might be that you asked them to step up before they were ready, because there was a staff shortage. If that’s the case, the staff shortage and lack of cover is the problem, not the person’s performance. But once you’ve addressed your staffing issue, you’ll have a strong, able workforce to take your business forward.

With the example of the supplier who let you down, think about why your business chose to work with the cheapest supplier. Do you have cashflow problems that mean you always have to choose the cheapest option? It might be time to review your finances and business plan, ensuring you have the liquidity to meet current and future requirements.

Turn the negative into a positive by taking action

There’s no point reviewing something and then not acting on the results of the review. Identify actions and make sure you follow them through.

If you and your team are constantly under pressure, Get Ahead can help. You’d be surprised at the variety of tasks you can outsource! If you think outsourcing could be the solution you’re looking for, get in touch today on 01483 332 220.

Find out more about our services or call 01483 332 220 to discuss in more detail.