It appears that regrets in business is not so uncommon. Do you regret any business decision you have made? Ever wondered how to deal with regrets in business?
I regret building a business that made almost $900,000 in 2005 that I wasn’t passionate about.
When the recession hit I didn’t fight to save it even though it might make millions today.
The money was good, so I hung onto it too long. Money wasn’t enough to keep me going in that business.
There was nothing wrong with the business, except, it wasn’t the right business for me.
There is no question that if you are an entrepreneur for any length of time, you will have regrets.
What really matters is how you deal with regrets.
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” - Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox
The following is my recommendation to effectively deal with business regrets.
First, let’s talk about what regret is. Some degree of regret is normal. It is part of the growing process as an entrepreneur.
To regret is to see room for improvement. Some people think, they can’t do anything wrong. I am sure you have met those kinds of people. ...Yuck.
To have regret in business is to understand that there was a better way. To find the optimal way is how entrepreneurs succeed.
When it comes to entrepreneurship what you will regret most are the things you didn’t do.
One of the most important things to know about regrets in business that it is an important process to overcome failure.
Entrepreneurs can overcome regret by asking two fundamental questions:
- What have you learned from the experience?
When my wife Monika and I started a wedding favor business in 2003 we knew nothing about entrepreneurship.
What we knew was that we didn’t want to work for other people anymore.
I was laid off from a well-paying job. I was asking myself “Do I want to get laid off again?”
Deep down I knew that I was ready to start a business. I didn’t care what kind of business.
I just wanted to become an entrepreneur. We started a wedding favor business, selling small gift items to the $300 billion global bridal industry.
Our business went from zero to hundreds of thousands fast and by 2005, our little business made $880,000.
It was more money than I have ever made in my life.
It is true that it wasn’t all profit, but still it was great to be part of a business that made over $100,000 for several months that year.
Was I passionate about wedding favors? I didn’t even know what wedding favors were until we started the business.
Was I passionate about the wedding industry? No. Was I passionate about the business?
No. But, I have learned so much about myself and the life of the entrepreneur.
Owning that business was a great learning experience. We have learned so much about e-commerce, SEO, hiring, importing, dealing with vendors, shipping, and the list goes on-and-on.
Ten MBA degrees couldn’t teach you as much as going through starting and growing a business yourself.
So, yes, it is true that it was a mistake for us to start a wedding favor business, but it was an amazing learning experience.
What I have learned from that business is still helping me today. The mistakes I have made are benefiting me today.
- How could it have been worse?
The reason I don’t have a nagging feeling of regret about that business today is that it could have been a lot worse.
Our business could have failed within the first year like most businesses.
Instead, our business had generated six-figure revenue per year and employed ten people at some point.
Instead of regret, all I feel today is gratitude.
The worst thing that could have happened to me is not to start any business back in 2003.
Yes, it is true that I started the wrong business but at least, I started one.
Even though it wasn’t the right business for me I still benefited multiple ways:
- I have made a lot of money. The business has made a lot of money for us over the years. Had I not started the business I could have never made so much money.
- I have traveled a lot because of the business. I have attended trade shows in far away places to find products to sell. Yes, it was business travel, but I still got to see some amazing places.
- I had the opportunity to employ people. It feels great when you give someone a job.
- I have met some amazing entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur I had a chance to meet and interact with some amazing entrepreneurs I would not have met otherwise.
- I have learned a lot about myself. I learned what I like and dislike about business. I have also learned what is important to me about business. It isn’t the amount of money I make.
- My wife, Monika, and I have become closer in the process of owning a business than ever.
My recommendation to you to live your life as a regretless entrepreneur is:
- Never start a business for the money. Even more important than that; never start a business to make more money. Research shows that money is not a true motivator. Start a business because it matters to you.
- If you end up starting a business you are not passionate about, quit. Don’t wait years to quit, like I did.
- Take action. One of the biggest regret people have is about the things they have never done. According to a study, 70 percent of employees wish to start a business someday.
- List the positives. Even if you are just starting out as an entrepreneur there is a lot to be grateful for. Focus on the positive. Think about all the good things that came out of moments of regret.
- Hire the right people. It’s incredibly hard to hire the right people consistently, but it is so important. One of the best hiring advice I heard from successful entrepreneurs is to hire slow and fire the wrong employees quickly.
- Worry less. I know you want to succeed, but you can’t take your business too seriously.
- Your life isn’t your business. There is life beyond business. Take a lot of personal time to be with friends and family. If your business is the most fun part of your life, you have to reassess your life.
You can’t succeed as an entrepreneur without making mistakes.
If you allow your regrets to take control of your life, you will be too afraid to take action and your business will fail.
I challenge you to a mindset shift. Replace the words “I regret” with “I am fortunate that I learned” from the experience.
Don’t allow regret to hold you back. Instead, use regret to energize you to take your business to the next level.
Admit that you have made a mistake, but understand that it was a learning experience.
George Meszaros is a serial entrepreneur and the cofounder of Success Harbor, a business hub dedicated to provide advice for small business owners and startups through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also cofounder of Webene, a website design and marketing company.