I know a thing or two about mistakes. Heck, we made more mistakes in our first five years than most businesses make in a century. We were a couple of kids living half the time out of a van; not everybody is Warren Buffett right out of the gate!
And if there’s one thing I learned from those mistakes… actually, scratch that. There’s no one thing I learned from those mistakes. I learned a ton of things from them! I can look back on every mistake and pull out the lesson. And boy, what a lesson some of them were. For example, when we first started doing trade shows, we were eager to let everyone know that it was our grand opening – until one of the other vendors pointed out that nobody is keen to buy an untested product, so maybe we shouldn’t be announcing that we had no experience.
Maybe you aren’t quite so prone to mistakes, and certainly today we are a lot smarter with our decisions. But the fact remains that none of us are perfect. Mistakes are part of the gig.
And that’s fine! In fact, I’d say the key isn’t avoiding mistakes; the key is recognizing them. That’s where transparency comes in. Let people tell you that you’ve screwed up! Hearing from a customer that we messed something up is such a huge opportunity. Nobody knows what we ought to be doing better than our customers. And in today’s interconnected environment, transparency is both easy and essential.
Don’t back down from your mistakes, and don’t back down from criticism or, worse, get defensive about it. Your mistakes are learning opportunities, and criticism is your customer base letting you know about those opportunities. Expand on that; involve those same customers in helping you solve the problem. If people know you’re trying, and that you’re genuinely interested in their perspective, they’ll like you and they’ll trust you – and you’ll deserve that trust.
Give it a try: in the comments, share an example of one mistake you’ve made. Be honest!
And click here to let me know you want to learn more. You know I love sharing this stuff!