Eight Important Lessons Learned From ‘Wrong’ Business Decisions


Business owners in any industry can confirm that running a company is a lifelong lesson. Though many entrepreneurs have strong gut feelings and long histories of success when it comes to decision making, there are times when they make bad business decisions as well.

In these situations, your whole outlook on your business can change. You may even feel discouraged from making significant decisions in the future. To help entrepreneurs learn from their unsuccessful decisions, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members shared some lessons they’ve learned from times they were proven wrong in business and how those lessons have impacted their decision making now.

1. You Have To Think Through The Implications

Early on, I hired loan officers without experience, believing, “If I can do it, I can teach anyone else to do it, and they can be successful.” My failure was not thinking through the implications of that mindset, no matter how true I still believe it to be. Ultimately, the time needed to help them manage tech, take calls together, huddle alongside them and really just be available to comprehensively train them was simply not the best use of my time for the company. In allowing my ego to interfere, I hired people whom I thought could potentially be great, but without experience; in reality, what I needed were people with strong foundations in the industry upon which we could build. Taking my ego out allows me now to make more pragmatic choices for the company. – Liam Leonard, DML Capital

2. Do It Good, Make It Better And Keep It Simple

I remember a mentor telling me that I needed a dashboard for leads and conversion rates and so I decided to hire a contractor that a colleague referred. I ended up letting that contractor take the lead on what I needed, only to end up with money and time spent on something that didn’t work for me. To make it worse, I made the same mistake twice and it cost me more time and money. I learned that a simple project board did the trick, and my personal assistant created it at a fraction of the cost and with less headache and participation on my part. Lesson learned: Do it good, make it better and keep it simple. Now I identify what projects we can leap in and make mistakes with along the way and what projects need more planning before taking action. – Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office

3. You Shouldn’t Have To Try So Hard To Make Something Work

For some time, we used a business model that relied on a very complex marketplace. It just didn’t work at scale, but we tried really hard to make it work. We struggled over a long period of time with this business model. I have learned that you shouldn’t try too hard to make something work. It just wastes time and effort. Instead, experiment until you find something that works well initially. Then, throw all your efforts into scaling what works. You’ll know you’re in the right area when you feel like you are accelerating a rolling rock down a hill versus grinding to push it up the hill. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

4. Having A Team Can Be Better Than Going It Alone

After I left a big agency and went on my own, traveling the world, speaking and working with top brands, I was hesitant to enter the agency world again. I was self-reliant and really busy, but did not feel team building was in my best interests. I was very wrong. Building a team and turning it into an agency has been the most rewarding experience. It is hard and it takes a lot of work. You have to be willing to admit you are wrong and make mistakes, as well as receive feedback. The rewards are well worth it. Additionally, in the process of team building, I was able to craft a culture that is resilient, that thrives on balance and feedback and that has grown my business more than I could have as a solopreneur. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

5. Focus And Speciality Can Take You Far

Years back, in a former business I started from the ground up, I came to the point that I believed I needed to expand operations into new business segments to continue to grow. After attempting to venture into new service lines, I realized that it would have been far more operationally efficient to instead seek out harder-to-sell, bigger-ticket clients in order to grow revenues. The main takeaway for me was the importance of having a highly trained staff that specializes in a key area of expertise, rather than a crew of generalists. Now, I seek to always build teams that focus their attention on highly defined skill sets, rather than trying to train people to be able to do a wide variety of tasks. – Richard Fong, SecurityForward.com

6. Be Patient And Work Hard To Bring Success

I wanted to give up on my project too early. Luckily, I did not. Today I know that you need patience alongside hard work to witness success in life. No business is successful overnight. It takes months and sometimes years to be successful. Wait your time before giving up. Track your quarterly progress to see how your business is doing. If it’s consistently doing bad, then it’s a different matter. But otherwise, you have to give it the time it needs. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

7. It’s Okay To Say ‘No’

Early on, I had a hard time saying no to prospective customers. I knew we could accomplish almost any type of translation, even if we didn’t have the staff on hand at the moment, so I would have us take on projects that would require large amounts of time and specialized hires to accomplish. Very often, we would spend more to get these tasks done than we would get in return. After doing this a couple of times, I realized that without the proper infrastructure in place to handle these tasks, they were an undue burden on myself and the team. Instead, we cut back on our services and have slowly grown out our offerings. Now we have the people and systems in place to properly handle almost any task, but it took patience and for me to learn to say, “Sorry, we can’t help you with that just yet.” – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC

8. Your Gut Is Sometimes Wrong

One of the business decisions I’ve been wrong about was in interviewing and hiring. Sometimes listening to your gut during the hiring process isn’t always the best way forward, no matter what you’ve been told. It’s also important to have more than one key player sit in on interviews with you. There have been times when my gut was telling me one thing during an interview, but after talking about it with my partners who were in the interview with me, we came to a different decision—and it turned out I was simply wrong. Hiring the right people is hard, so it’s important to take all the steps you can by having key players of your business sit in on interviews to offer a more diverse point of view when hiring. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.



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