Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when just starting out. Mistakes are VALUABLE learning experiences!

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by Tom Watson on November 15, 2015

I know that nobody likes making mistakes. I certainly have a tremendous distaste for them. I always have!

But the fact is, WE ALL MAKE THEM. And contrary to popular belief, mistakes can be good! They help you understand things better.

A good case can be made around the fact that if you are not making mistakes, then you are not learning anything. I know that back when I first started out, I did a lot of things right (mostly by accident), but I made a ton of mistakes.

I made mistakes in hiring people, I made mistakes in training people, I made mistakes in the general operation of running the business and I made a mistakes in bidding some jobs. But the big takeaway from all that is that I was actually better off over the long haul by making those mistakes.

They taught me valuable lessons that allowed me to take my business to a higher level. For instance many people are worried about making a mistake on a bid when they first get started. I get that, nobody wants to work for free!

But the fact is when you first get started, you have to learn the ropes. Your first few bids may be way off, and as a result you may be working for peanuts. But that EXPERIENCE now allows you to NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. That LESSON is of MORE VALUE than the work you did for peanuts!

One thing I had going for me was I wasn’t worried about “putting in the time”. In fact, the faster I learned my lessons and got them out of the way, the FASTER I WOULD EARN BIG MONEY. So if I messed up on some bids early on, SO BE IT.

It certainly WAS NOT MY GOAL, and I worked hard to avoid it from happening, but if it did I knew it would help me over the long haul. I wasn’t seeking INSTANT GRATIFICATION in my business. I was thinking LONG-TERM.

So if I made some errors in my first year I was OK with it because I knew they would pay dividends in year two, three and four (and forever). So I encourage you to embrace the mistakes you make and don’t look at them as the “end of the world”. Because they are not!

So I would advise you to EXPECT to make some mistakes as you go about running your new business. Do your best to AVOID them, but don’t lose hope just because a few things don’t work out. Thomas Edison tried 1,000 ways to get a light bulb to work before getting it right.

You shouldn’t have to make that many mistakes, but you get the idea! So simply think LONG TERM, ADJUST as needed and LEARN from the mistakes that you will undoubtedly make. If you do that, things will work out just fine.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shekima Stallings November 15, 2015 at 11:29 am

Hi Tom
Thanks!!! I really needed to hear that this morning I just want to say that I really love getting your emails and listening to your podcast you help me more than you know with my business thanks a lot and have a good day.

2 Tom Watson November 16, 2015 at 10:35 am

THANKS Shekima!

3 angela November 23, 2015 at 1:07 am

Ha… 20 yrs into commercial and I still make my fair share I just say whatever and move on. Things change, trends change, mangers of my clients change, all sorts of scenarios happen. If you can’t be flexible then being in business may not be the best option of careers for a person in the long run and I dont mean that rudely. Not everyone is cut out for it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am an entrepreneur and yet I still have those days of ‘really angela are really sure’ but they pass quickly.
When I go on estimates I tell my clients upfront, ‘I do not promise perfection 100%of the time, what I do promise is honesty, integrity and 100% committment to communicate with you on a regular basis to ensure you are receiving the quality of service you deserve for the money you are putting out’
They love that authentication and it speaks to them.

4 Tom Watson November 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for sharing that Angela! We all have our moments of “why am I in business?!”. But like you, they pass. For me it sure beats the alternative (a dreaded job). And your approach to the customers is great. That is what they want, and that is all you can provide.

5 angela November 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm

And believe me if they WANT you to promise perfection you DONT want them….

6 Tom Watson November 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm


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