There are many realities that entrepreneurs must face. There are many more realities than two. Every day, entrepreneurs have to face and accept a variety of realities. There are many books and endless articles that answer the question “What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur?” I agree with almost all the information I’ve read about this topic. These two realities of small business ownership that I discuss in this article aren’t unique. They have been discussed and written about many times before, but they deserve special attention.
My experience has shown that making decisions and learning from mistakes is key to business ownership success. Accepting responsibility for your business’ decisions and understanding that you will make mistakes is key to success as a business owner. However, you must have the courage and desire to make these decisions. You must learn from your mistakes to be a successful owner of a small business.
Embracing Decision Making
Are you happy to be the person that people turn to when they need help making a decision? Are you comfortable being in control? Are you open to making difficult decisions? I don’t believe that if you answered “no” in any of these questions it is a sign you aren’t ready to be an entrepreneur. It could be that you are being honest with your self, which is great. However, the reality is that either you are already a decision maker, or you need to quickly learn how to be one.
Executives in corporate America often have to make tough decisions. Perhaps the decision is made in a group, and then they reach consensus. A large company’s board of directors might be responsible for making the decisions that will lead to success or failure. The owner of a small business must make the decisions. You may be able to rely on mentors or partners to help you make tough decisions, but it is usually the sole entrepreneur who has this responsibility.
You must be able to make difficult decisions in order to succeed as your boss. You don’t have to feel stressed or under pressure when making decisions. It’s about your confidence and ability to make them. It’s likely something you desired, and what drove you to be an entrepreneur. You have the freedom to create your own path and run your business as you please.
Accepting your mistakes
Succession stories of successful entrepreneurs will show you that mistakes and learning from them are essential parts of their business. Henry Ford put it succinctly: “One who fears failing limits his activities.” Failure is the chance to start again, more intelligently.
You must plan to succeed but also be prepared to fail. Although it may seem self-destructive, I accept that this is a fact of being an entrepreneur. While I accept the possibility that some of my decisions and ideas will not be right, I know that I will make better business decisions based on my knowledge and experience. I am confident in my ability to make decisions and trust that my intuitions will lead me in the right direction. Even on the worst days, the days that I fail, I learn from them and look forward to the day when I can do it again.
Owners of small businesses must admit that there will be mistakes. You will make mistakes if you make enough decisions. If they take risks and push beyond the status quo, no one can avoid making mistakes. Avoiding mistakes can lead to paralysis if you over-analyze everything and try to avoid them. It is okay to make mistakes. Accept this fact and believe that you will make the right decisions.
Others will likely be quick to point out if you fall. Those people are not likely to be small-business owners. It is much easier to stay on the sidelines and not make any decisions. While critiquing those who make decisions, it is certainly more enjoyable. It is much more difficult and braver to use your intellect, experience, and skills to predict what the future will look like – which is part of what our businesses need.
However, this does not necessarily mean we are immune to failure. I don’t like to fail. When I do fail, I try my best to move past the self-pity and grief phases and learn from them. I know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t have a way to predict the future. I also understand that there are times when I make poor decisions. Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach, put it nicely: “If you aren’t making mistakes, then you aren’t trying hard enough.”
To be successful in your entrepreneurial endeavors, you must embrace and enjoy decision-making and learn from mistakes. You will make mistakes when you make difficult decisions, especially those that affect the future of your company. Sometimes you make many bad decisions in one go. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failures are part of the business process and continue to move forward. Be confident in yourself and believe you can overcome mistakes and make choices that will lead you to greatness.