Ah, failure. A lot of people don’t like to talk about it, but let’s be real….who hasn’t failed in one way or another? We’re all human, and unfortunately, human beings tend to be prone to making mistakes. It’s just in our nature.
You might think that the more established you are as a business owner, the less likely you are to fail, but I think that’s totally a myth. Of course you gain experience the longer you’re in business, but the length of time you’ve been working doesn’t mean that you suddenly become perfect!
Here are some things I’ve learned about overcoming failures in my business over the last six years:
1. Make it Right
What can you do to fix your mistake? If it’s something that cannot be fixed, what can you do to make it better? If the mistake involves your clients, it’s best to put yourself in their shoes and act with as much empathy and kindness as you can. In most situations, people want to know that they’re heard and understood and to see that you’re doing the best that you can do. I genuinely care for all of our clients, so if I make a mistake that affects them on some level, I try to do as much as I can to make the situation right.
Consider the kinds of customer service you’ve received in your life. How would you feel if a company left you out to dry after their mistake affected you? How do you feel when a company goes above and beyond to take care of you? I can’t remember exactly who said it, but I always try to remember this quote: “The one thing people remember about you is how you made them feel”. I find that to be such a great business principle because at the end of the day, business (especially the business of wedding photography, but this also applies to all business) is really all about relationships.
2. Keep perspective
We sometimes feel like our failures are going to ruin us and destroy our businesses. That the mistakes we’ve made are greater than the sum of all of the awesome things we’ve done. The truth is, no one person and no business is defined solely by a mistake that’s been made. We’re defined by a much bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, your mistake is probably not that big of a deal! It’s something you’ll be able to learn from…and learning = growth. Instead of beating yourself up about it, It’s best to keep perspective in mind. I sometimes ask myself, “Is this something I’ll still be worried about a year from now?” if not, then it’s not worth losing sleep over.
3. Take something away from the experience
In my opinion, the silver lining to almost every epic fail is that there’s something you can learn from it. Maybe you’ll figure out a new way to do things in your business or pick up a new software or system because of it. Or, maybe you’ll learn something valuable about yourself that you can take into your next interactions! To me, the biggest tragedy isn’t the mistake itself, it’s not using the opportunity to learn something and become better because of it. There’s always something to learn from failure, you just have to be willing to look and to do the work to fix it.
It’s important to remember that everyone is flawed and that’s okay. Life is about staying humble and doing our best, not being the best 24/7. Use your failures to help you to succeed in the future and they won’t have been for nothing.