In business, as in life, we all make mistakes, but it’s important to learn from anything that is not 100 per cent successful.
There could be a whole range of solutions to problems but the key is that you, as the owner or manager of the system, learn the lessons and take appropriate action.
The following five ways will help you to learn from your business and avoid repeating the same mistakes:
Define your processes
To grow efficiently and scale your business, you must work out exactly what makes your business work and document the method. This includes having a clearly defined process that logs all issues (however big or small), and solves them. By noting these down, you can focus on striking them off, learning from each one, improving on it, and removing any barriers to growth.
Once you have a process and system for logging your issues, you need to identify the person who is accountable for each one, and the date they will be solved by. It’s important to ensure that everything and everyone who needs to be involved understands their role, and the goal. A set of progressive leadership behaviours must be agreed and adhered to.
Set the questions you want to ask your business and put measures in place to track progress against your defined processes and alert you to potential problems well before the alarms go off. We come across too many business owners who expect their business to magically change. They know their sales have plummeted for the third consecutive month, or that their star member is less willing than they were six months ago. But they don’t know why.
Consider the following: why did you lose that contract? How do your staff really feel? How many of your clients are fans? Asking questions that are most important to your business on a regular basis and introducing simple tools and measures such as the Net Promoter Score will mean you are constantly learning and evolving and not making the same mistakes repeatedly. To achieve this the business needs to follow the next step.
Create the right culture
Give the tools, and get out of the way. This will only happen if you have created the right culture and environment in your business. Those businesses that we work with who have successfully achieved this are constantly learning and refining because their teams have the will and the attitude to give and receive constructive feedback.
In some ways, they celebrate mistakes. These business owners aren’t constantly mopping the floor because of a leaky roof; they’ve mended the roof and moved onto the next challenge. If you don’t set the right environment then every decision you make will be an emotional one, based on short-sighted information at hand (at best).
Get into a routine
Now you have set the right environment, you’re asking your business the right questions and you’ve got systems and processes in place, you need to embed a routine into your business. Having regular, structured meetings (same day, time, agenda) to capture, review and tick off issues allows you to constantly learn from your business. It’s important to remember that these types of meetings are problem-solving meetings.
Martin Norbury is an entrepreneur and business coach, and author of I don’t work Fridays