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Small Business Mistakes: Are You Making Enough of Them?

That's right ­ are you making enough mistakes in your business? Some of you are probably annoyed at my question; others are thinking "Geez, Rose! If I made any more mistakes I'd have to run screaming back to a day job!"

If you went to school in the public school system in America, you were culturally trained to avoid and hide mistakes, after all; your teachers and professors didn't give you a great grade for your efforts unless those efforts produced great results. So, too, if you were an employee in corporate America you were rewarded for chasing perfection and penalized for making mistakes.

But now you're self-employed.

And it's a necessity that you rethink the whole issue of mistakes. One of the most important mental shifts we all need to make as self-employed business owners is from hiding and avoiding our mistakes to embracing them! And to making lots of little ones ­ frequently! (It's those big mistakes that happen "once in a while" that will kill your business ­ not the little mistakes you make daily.)

Here's an example of one of those business-killing mistakes:

Sam had been doing subcontracting work for Fred off and on over the past 5 years. Initially, Sam had a full workload for his business between the work he got directly from clients himself and the work that Fred hired him to do. Sam had a non-compete agreement with Fred. Essentially Sam agreed not to solicit work directly from any of Fred's clients for at least a year after having worked for Fred, but things are tough out here in the real world this year.

Sam knew, from Fred, that Fred was actively marketing his business to a new department in a very large local corporation for whom Fred had worked for many years. In fact, Fred had brought Sam onto several past projects for this client. However, when Sam was approached by a local job-shopping temporary employment agency about the same gig, Sam agreed to allow the agency to submit him for the job.

Sam didn't tell Fred that he was violating their non-compete agreement. Sam interviewed for the job and got it. Then he told Fred.

This was a big mistake (to say nothing of the violation of several of my Client-Savvy Proficiencies for Successful Solopreneurs!) You can bet that Sam has just eliminated any further work coming into his business via Fred.

Here are some examples of embraceable, little mistakes:

  • Emailed my first status report to my client and assumed she received it. She hadn't received it, which I discovered in the next on-site project meeting. After that I both emailed and faxed her my weekly status reports.
  • Bought an indicia from the Postal Office with the intent to save money in my direct mail campaigns through reduced postage costs. Didn't check it out enough to learn that the PO won't return undeliverable items when they are stamped with an indicia. Sent out several mailings to a bad mailing list that I couldn't update because I didn't know how many of the addresses were defunct. When I learned how this really worked, I switched to using first-class postage for my mailings. Now my mailing lists are cleaned and updated after each mailing...saving me more money than I saved with the indicia.
  • Started a new health program than included walking a couple of times each day. I checked my schedule, phone messages, and email messages before I went out for each walk, and carried my cell phone with me during the walk. But I hadn't started the habit of checking my phone for messages upon re-entry to my office. I missed a call from a lovely prospective client and didn't return it for 3 hours. Not a great way to begin a relationship in business. Now I forward my office phone to my cell phone during my walks.

As a self-employed professional, you grow and mature by making, and then, correcting mistakes. The key is not only to make the right type of mistakes, but also to correct them yourself and, hence, turn them into a non-repeating event.

Your processes, systems, and expertise develop one mistake at a time. This is an on-going process, not a one-time thing. So you need to be doing this each and every day as a normal and consistent part of how you operate your businesses. You won't stay in business long if you hide your mistakes or blame them on your systems, processes, or others.

Try being more aware of how you respond to your mistakes, and to what type of mistakes you are making in your business. Then set a goal to make your mistakes lower-risk (i.e., little) and more frequent. Let me know what you learn!

Copyright 2004, Rose Hill, Inc

__________

Rose Hill, Founder and Owner of Biz Whiz Expert and Team Member of Solo-E.com has been self-employed since 1990.

Knowing how to run and market corporate departments, entities, products, and services did nothing to prepare her for successfully running and marketing a one-person business. That is why Rose created the SoloBizVille and SoloBizU community - to specifically to help solo entrepreneurs jumpstart their business success without all the trial-and-error learning.

_________

***** Find more articles like this at http://www.Solo-E.com ? Keeping Solo Entrepreneurs Juiced in Business and in Life. Our team of Solo Entrepreneurs are comprised of small business experts who support others in finding business success with the flexibility and freedom to have a life, too. Network with other freelancers, self-employed and Solo Entrepreneurs in our forums, enjoy our articles and newsletter, and find other online training opportunities. *****

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