There’s been a lot of failure among small businesses in 2020. It’s been one of those years. As history tell us, those who do not learn from their failures may be doomed to experience failure again.
The first step to learning from failure is to put it in context.
If failure is met with chastisement, disappointment, or punishment within your organization, your team will take a risk-averse stance. In the case of 2020, the reasons for failure may have been beyond your control as a business owner or CEO. In most cases, however, there were actions you did take or didn’t take that contributed in part or whole to failure.
The next step is to put processes in place that maximize the benefits of failure.
When you try new things and explore new ways to grow, you will inevitably fail. You’ll sink some money into a software solution that doesn’t really work. You’ll try to overhaul some processes, only to realize there was actually no better way of doing them.
Failure happens. As a leader, you need to be okay with that fact and create a culture that celebrates failure. In fact, failure should be openly discussed and encouraged. Your team should love running experiments and testing their ideas as much as you do. And they should be taught to test their ideas in confined time periods, so that the consequences of failure don’t grow too big.
This latter approach is commonly referred to in the land of large enterprises as the Agile Approach, where incremental steps are taken, and then success or failure are measured, before another step is taken.
The last step is to stick with this philosophy and be patient.
Creating the kind of culture in a small or medium-sized business that applauds failure requires a lot of coordinated effort. Your employees don’t just show up to work each day and comply with everything you say. They also bring all of their past work experiences with them, influencing how they behave and what they think about work.
Culture is all about hiring the right people and creating the right environment to bring out their best, most creative work. It’s the key to making sure that your company can evolve, change, and outlast the typical business lifecycle.
Installing a culture that sees the value in failure doesn’t happen overnight. But it is within reach, and it will transform your business if you believe in its value. You’re in this for the long run, and investing in culture will ultimately lead to your company’s long-term success.