You may have heard the saying “fail fast.” That’s because entrepreneurs know failure is a part of starting any business, and the ones that endure or live to fight another day embrace failure. This is especially the case with young entrepreneurs. The launch of a small business is almost always associated with the end goal of success in mind. However, the process of entrepreneurship, and specifically the obstacles faced along the way, often can be a goldmine for lessons learned. This makes embracing mistakes critically important for young entrepreneurs to recognize.
Owning a small business is a tremendous responsibility at any age, but the drive to do so is particularly admirable in youth. But often, when the dream of owning a business becomes a reality, the special care that went into planning it initially often is replaced by the excitement of actually operating the business. Soon, any number of mistakes can occur — large and small — which can lead youth to quickly decide to close down their business at the first sign of problems. This is the greatest mistake and perhaps the only one that should not be embraced: never quickly abandon ship.
“Quickly” is the key word here, because sometimes, after careful consideration, many successful business owners realize that their initial business idea was not sound. After evaluating that experience by reflecting on lessons learned, they start another business that then becomes a success. It is a best practice in entrepreneurship for a young business to not close suddenly because of mistakes but, instead, to carefully measure the situation and adapt accordingly.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of young people around the country open lemonade stands the first weekend in May to participate in Lemonade Day and have their first taste of small business ownership. Most of the young entrepreneurs who participate do so each subsequent year. One of the key reasons the same children participate annually is because they challenge themselves to reflect and learn from any mistakes they made the year before and turn the lessons learned into success. Oftentimes participants move beyond their lemonade stands in later years to open successful small businesses that can grow with them into adulthood.
So how can you best embrace your mistakes as a current/potential, young small business owner? Think “F.A.S.T.”:
— FIX the immediate fallout from the mistake;
— ASSESS the mistake and determine what went wrong, if it can be avoided in the future and what can be learned from the mistake;
— SAIL or SINK: Take your greatest lesson learned from the assessment and sail away to try again at your business venture, OR, sink the specific business idea altogether if the assessment reveals there is no other option;
— TRANSFORM your identity as an entrepreneur and create a better-than-ever business as a result of your mistake, either the same business if you decided to “sail,” or an all new business if you decided to “sink.” Either way, stay active on the seas of entrepreneurship.
Mistakes and embracing failure often has sparked the fire and perseverance needed to make small business owners successful. And small business success is what makes our country great.
Lemonade Day is a 14-step process that walks youth from a dream to a business plan, while teaching them the principles to start a successful company of any size. Learn more at www.LemonadeDay.org
— By Julie Eberly, Lemonade Day