There’s not exactly a step-by-step guidebook for entrepreneurship.
I mean, sure. There are resources. There are support groups. There are books. But there are some things you just have to learn for yourself.
That doesn’t mean all mistakes are bad. In fact, I would argue that in an entrepreneur’s life—or anyone’s life for that matter—mistakes can actually be the best thing to ever happen to you. First, you have to accept that you are guaranteed to make mistakes. Full stop. It’s not a matter of IF you will, it’s a matter of what and when. As a perfectionist, this hasn’t always been the easiest thing to accept, but learning from my mistakes has been transformative personally and professionally.
To prove it, here are four mistakes I don’t regret having made somewhere along my journey.
1. I didn’t have enough confidence. I had a dream of being a business owner long before I took the leap. It took many people around me telling me I should go for it to actuallygo for it. When I finally jumped off the proverbial cliff, I felt like I was falling faster than I could keep up. I constantly felt as though someone was going to “find me out” at any moment. Having that lack of confidence and suffering through imposter syndrome was a mistake. Moving forward in spite of it was what got me where I am today. Now, I can recognize the symptoms of imposter syndrome in others, help them get over it, and find their inner confidence, as I did. And when I sometimes still feel it—I know I am slipping into my old ways and quickly get back into my power.
2. I left my last job. Not voluntarily, I might add. The mistake here wasn’t so much getting let go, but my perspective and thoughts around what I was working towards. I gave everything to every job I had since high school. I was always the most loyal employee, dedicated to the end. It still wasn’t good enough. When I was let go, I realized it didn’t matter. My hard work didn’t save me. What I had needed all along was an underlying purpose behind my work. This push was what finally inspired me to start my own business. Today, I’m working for my own satisfaction, for my own success and my own vision. And nothing is more thrilling.
3. I sacrificed my family for work. I’ve always been a certified workaholic, and my family will be the first to tell you. There have been many, many nights I’ve come home late because I couldn’t get away from the office. I’ve talked openly about the fact that as an entrepreneur, the work never, ever shuts off, and it’s true. This is precious time I can’t ever get back, and that does make me sad. I can’t regret it though, because it’s forced me to confront the work/life imbalance in my life. I have since established boundaries and resolved to make more time for my family in the future. Being a business owner has only sucked up more of my time, but I’m also more intentional in how I spend my precious few remaining hours. I now make a priority to spend quality time with my family, and that may not have happened without the hard lesson first.
4. I got sucked into gossip. When I was working in the newsroom as a journalist, the gossip was insidious. It felt impossible not to get sucked into it. Had I been more secure with myself, I could have risen above it, but being young and hungry, I wanted to impress my colleagues and make a good impression. It ended up tainting my ability to trust others. In the end, though, this experience gave me the foundation to seek out trustworthy women, which I’ve done over the past two years as an entrepreneur. In fact, my first PR agency had a no gossip policy which was so enlightening, it led me on a path to explore what that could look like in life and in the corporate world. Today, I’m surrounded by strong women who refuse to gossip, and that has been the biggest breath of fresh air. I wouldn’t have this clarity had I not gone through the gossiping phase first.
Hindsight is always 20/20, which makes it easy for me to sit back and look at all the good that came from these mistakes. That does not mean it was easy to make these errors and go through the ensuing hard times. Mistakes are never fun in the moment, but they’re inevitable. When you learn to embrace the failure (because to err is human), you open yourself up to a whole new level of success.
What mistakes are going to teach you something today?