If you were offered the chance to avoid making the most painful mistakes of your career, would you take it?
Most people would grab at that chance. It’s understandable. We all want to avoid looking like fools. We’d all prefer to take a smooth path to success, rather than that bumpy road that turned out to be laden with land mines.
Unfortunately, in my experience, that’s not how success works. It’s our mistakes that make us. Without our mistakes, we can’t learn the lessons needed to overcome the habits, behaviors, or assumptions that caused them. Mistakes are instrumental to success.
Embracing My Mistakes
Despite the discomfort, expense, and embarrassment of the mistakes I’ve made in my professional career, I’m glad they happened. My mistakes have taught me to be humble. They’ve shown me that there’s always more to learn. Most importantly, they’ve helped me to figure out what not to do.
Mistakes show us when we need to correct our paths and find better solutions. My biggest mistakes have been central to helping me to build the successful business I have today.
Learning from Others’ Mistakes
Every business owner makes mistakes. It’s an unavoidable truth.
In most cases, starting a business is a trial-by-fire experience. New business owners learn lessons by making their own painful mistakes and missteps. At first, that was my experience, too.
Fortunately, I’ve since realized another important truth: Every business owner also has the ability to learn from mistakes made by others. After all, many business leaders and entrepreneurs are happy to share the lessons they’ve learned. The hope is that, by sharing their experience genuinely and transparently, they can help other business founders avoid some of the mistakes they’ve made.
That way of thinking is the foundation of Every Entrepreneurs Guide: Successful Entrepreneurs Under 40. By being part of this book, we entrepreneurs are electing to share the benefits of our experience, be that experience good or bad, inspiring or terrifying, embarrassing or encouraging.
By picking up Every Entrepreneurs Guide: Successful Entrepreneurs Under 40, you’ve chosen to be open to learning from others’ experience. While you will still make mistakes, hopefully your mistakes can be only the inevitable, necessary, and beneficial kind — the kind necessary to help you find your right path forward, whatever that may be.
In that spirit, welcome to my recounting of five of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career, and what I learned as a result. I’m happy to help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.
Five of My Biggest Mistakes — and What I Learned from Them
1) Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
I’ll admit it. Just like most self-made entrepreneurs, when I was younger and first starting out as an entrepreneur, I used to think that I knew how to do everything myself. I was presumptuous. I didn’t think I needed advice.
At first, I suffered from tunnel vision, unable or unwilling to acknowledge that my ideas might not be the best ones. I was proud. I thought I knew more than I did.
I also felt that, to be a true self-made entrepreneur, I genuinely needed to do it all myself. I worried that asking for help might make me look uncertain or weak.
What I Learned
Of course, I know now that I couldn’t have been any more wrong. I now operate my business by making sure I’m listening to the best advice I can find.
Over and over, my experience showed me that I didn’t have all the answers. I wish I could say that I learned this lesson quickly. Instead, it was a lesson learned over time. Ultimately, I woke up to the reality that, no matter how smart we are, there are always other people who are smarter. No matter how many ideas we have, other people are still likely to have better ones.
Now, I hire the strongest, sharpest leaders I can find, and I expect that they bring their own ideas and vision. I empower them, support them, and above all, listen to them. In addition, in 2017, I put together an advisory board for my company. Every meeting we have generates a sizable to-do list of me. The members of my advisory board are all experts in their fields, and I’m confident they’re all much smarter than I am. When you surround yourself with a group of highly intelligent people you trust, miracles can happen.
Learning to ask for help may be the single most important lesson I’ve ever learned for succeeding in business. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and seek out mentors, especially among the entrepreneurial community. Most entrepreneurs — including me — wouldn’t have gotten where they are today without the help and sound counsel of other professionals.
This is a sample of a chapter taken from the book Every Entrepreneurs Guide: Successful Entrepreneurs Under 40. The chapter is written by Andrey Kudievskiy. To read the full chapter, click here to pick up your copy.
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of My Entrepreneur Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, The Property Investor and Gold, Oil and Diamonds, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.