Startup Mistakes – Friend Or Foe?


by Matthew Turner


Mistakes have a bad reputation, and the last thing you want to do when starting your own business is make one.






Unfortunately startup mistakes happen whether you like it or not, and although you should avoid the Big Mistakes at all costs (by asking questions, planning properly, reading, researching, etc), the small ones can prove to be rather helpful.


The problem is people are terrified, especially those starting a new business who think the smallest of faux pas’ can lead to the deadliest of outcomes. I’m here to ease those worries by sharing some info from a new book I’m writing – The Successful Mistake: inspiring tips, tricks & tales from 250 successful entrepreneurs; a book that demonstrates how mistakes can be turned into greatness.


Don’t Be Afraid

Mistakes love fear. They want you to be scared to death of them and panic as soon as one rears its ugly head. They want you to sulk and hide and beat yourself up for being such a foolish fool, and once a mistake achieves this, you’re doomed.


This is when a mistake is your foe!


This is often the go-to response for most people because we’re bullied into thinking that mistakes are terrible. A proper, detailed plan means mistakes don’t happen, right? Wrong! Even the greatest of plans can result in the occasional mistake, and although preparation helps, it doesn’t negate the possibility all together.


I like to look at mistakes as Lessons In Disguise, and with this mindset an error can quickly become a friend.


Lessons aren’t scary. They exist so we can learn and get better, and if we don’t get it right first time around, it’s fine, we’ll try again and get it right next time. It’s all part of the journey, and mistakes play a vital role.





3 Quick Steps to Turn Startup Mistakes into Friends

Those starting a new business are especially susceptible to mistakes because there’s so much to do – often in a very short timeframe. Avoid the Big Mistakes by planning and being prepared, but don’t kill yourself if the odd mistake crops up here and there.


It happens to the best of us, indeed, ALL OF US.


I want to offer 3 Quick Steps to turn a mistake into a friend during those early days of business. No matter what the issue is, take a few minutes to consider these three actions and life will be much easier:


1. Breathe

Like I say, mistakes love fear. Your first reaction might be to panic, react, and turn things around immediately. Sometimes there’s no time to take a step back and breathe, but often there is. Whenever possible, take a moment to reflect.


We make our best decisions when our mind’s thinking, not simply reacting. Now is a time to rid your world of fear and panic, and instead approach this issue with a clear and rational process. This may sound easy, but it isn’t. When a mistake comes to light we often want to tackle it straight away, but I urge you to take a few minutes.


2. Focus

Once you’ve taken a few moments to reflect on what’s happened, you then need to focus on what needs to be done. Every mistake is different, thus it’s impossible to say what specific action needs to be taken. Often the person with the right answer is you – or at least those around you.


Pull out a pen and start noting down what’s happened, and which actions NEED to be taken STRAIGHT AWAY.


Chances are much needs to be done, but only certain things can be tackled in the immediate aftermath. What do these NEED to be?


If you have a team of staff now’s the time to call a meeting, if not, note down everything that you can and start grading the urgent and not-so. Again, this isn’t always easy if there’s a great deal to prioritize, but there are only so many resources available to you.


3. Learn

I often find the difference between a mistake learned from and one that’s not is the time taken to note it down. By now you should have a rational, necessary action-plan that’s being implemented as you speak – what’s happening as a result?


This is the stage to create a mini diary and note anything and everything you deem important. Don’t try and learn from the mistake just yet (turn it into a Successful Mistake first), but at some point you’ll have time to consider what can be taken from it. Making notes during the issue is much more effective than trying to remember afterward.


You Have A Friend In Me

We should all avoid the Big Mistake, indeed, avoid as many mistakes as possible – period!


Unfortunately even the most prepared business will suffer on occasion, and as the head honcho much of the stress will fall on your shoulders. It’s a tough time, but from my experiences with The Successful Mistake, it doesn’t have to be the end – in fact it might become your brightest hour sometime down the line.


These three actions won’t rid your life of issue, but it will mean you approach and deal with mistakes in a far more effective manner. This can be the difference between Friend & Foe.


I’m in love with The Successful Mistake project. I’m learning so much from all the amazing stories, but the journey has a long way to go. As such I invite you to take part and join dozens of other amazing people in sharing stories that matter. You have a story to share, this I’m sure of! Will you join me?


If you’d like to learn more, please click here. Alternatively, if you only have a few seconds to spare, please fill in the short survey here.


The Successful Mistake can only happen with people like you sharing amazing stories. Help the next generation of entrepreneur understand that mistakes are an important part of the business world. In doing so you’ll be part of a book, appear in it, and be introduced to new people. Thank you!


Matthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire) is a storyteller who helps businesses discover, create, and share their brand stories. Follow Matthew on Twitter at @turndog_million.


Photo Credits

Chris Sharp | Phaitoon | | Matthew Turner