Photo by George Becker

Mistakes in the world of business can often be seen as unwelcome intruders, getting in the way of Moving forward and being as successful as you were planning to be. And that’s the best-case scenario; sometimes, they can be devastating and even force a business to come to a premature end. However, although those mistakes do happen, this blog post is about the smaller, still annoying, but definitely salvageable ones. They are the ones you can do something about, so they’re the ones you should learn to deal with – because it’s highly likely they’re going to happen. 

The thing about these mistakes is that they don’t have to be all bad (even if they feel that way at first), and in fact, they have the potential to transform your business into something very special in some rather surprising ways. Read on to find out what we mean so that you can understand more about how to turn business mistakes into successes. 

Know You’re Not Perfect 

When you start out in business, you’ll know you’re not perfect, and you’ll know there’s still a lot to learn. However, as time goes on, you might become a little more blase about things, especially when it feels as though everything you touch turns to gold (or at least a profit). This is the issue, though; when everything’s going well, it can feel as though nothing will go wrong, and you’ll start to become complacent about your business and maybe even just assume you don’t really have to try all that hard anymore to do well. 

When you get to this stage and you think you know everything or don’t have to do much anymore, that’s when the cracks can start to show, and the reality is that you’ll have stopped paying attention, at which point those bigger issues we mentioned above might come about. 

Although we’re not saying that you should deliberately make small mistakes just to ensure you stay attentive, we are saying that when small mistakes happen, it’s wise to use them to remember that you still have a long way to go, and actually always will do. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you can do something about it, such as get involved in the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training to become a better problem-solver, for example. 

The key really lies in acknowledging your mistakes and learning from them so you become a better business owner and so that, ideally, they don’t happen again. 

Refine Your Strategy 

One great thing about mistakes, as strange as that might sound at first, is that they can truly highlight weaknesses in your business strategy or the way you’re currently working, and whether it’s a marketing campaign that isn’t paying for itself, a flawed product design, or a financial decision that was poorly judged and caused issues with your budget or cash flow, the reality is that each mistake can give you plenty of valuable feedback to work on. 

This feedback can serve as a kind of plan to help you work out what it is you need to do and what changes you need to make. Using the feedback from your mistakes to refine your current strategy so that it becomes so much better is hugely beneficial, and no matter what you thought of the mistake at the time (and it’s unlikely it was positive), imagine where you would be if it had never happened. Again, we’re not saying you have to make mistakes, of course, but when you do (which you will because everyone does), you need to think about what that means in terms of change within your business, and even if it’s a challenge, you need to make those changes as quickly as possible. 

Become More Adaptable 

Connected to the idea above is the thought that if you make mistakes in business, they can help you become much more adaptable. Being adaptable and flexible is something that can make or break a business, and if you use any mistakes you might make as a way to learn more about adaptability and lean more into flexibility, you’ll be able to see different ways of doing things more easily. 

If you’re able to take change in your stride and make changes without having to take too much time over them (although still evaluating all the risks and pros and cons, of course), then you can keep Moving forward more quickly and not allow one mistake to cost you too much. 

Plus, in the future, you’ll be much more able to change when need be, even if no mistake has been made. If you see an opportunity, you’ll know just how to pivot in your business to make things work better for you. 

Become More Innovative 

Innovation is something that is closely tied to experiments and trying new things, of course, but that can be hard to do in business even if it’s something that would help you hugely because you would have to get out of your comfort zone and you might also have to deal with failure. However, businesses that allow for mistakes, know they’re going to happen (even though they’ll try to avoid them), and work with them when they do, can be a lot more innovative and exciting than those who try to stay safe. If you want your business to be successful and get to the top, you’ll need to factor in the truth of the matter, which is that mistakes are inevitable, but if they mean you’re innovating and pushing the boundaries, that’s a positive thing overall. 

Think about how many groundbreaking inventions and products came from a mistake after a business owner was willing to take some risks and learn from errors they made in the process. This willingness to make a mistake can create a business where innovation becomes something you do as standard, and you’ll be able to drive your company – and the people in it – forward to huge success. It might come in unexpected ways, but when you’re able to deal with mistakes and be innovative, it will come nonetheless. 

Become Resilient 

It can be hard to be a business owner for all kinds of different reasons, but one that a lot of people won’t talk about is that it can hurt. If you do something wrong, or someone makes a complaint or leaves a bad review, or if anything else negative happens, you can feel pain because of it. After all, this is your ‘baby’, and you’ve worked hard to create it, so if anyone doesn’t like it or has an issue, it can feel like a personal affront. 

If you want to get further in business, this perfectly understandable and natural reaction will have to change, or you’ll be afraid to try new things and put yourself out there for people to see. You can use mistakes you make in business to become a lot more resilient, and this shift in perspective can help you bounce back much more quickly when things don’t go as planned. 

It’s also much better for your mental health to have this kind of attitude. That’s not to say you shouldn’t care what people say about your business – customer feedback, even negative feedback, can help you make necessary and important changes – but it does mean that if you turn things around so they help your business grow and give you a thicker skin at the same time, then it will stop you being so stressed and you’ll start to feel happier all round. 

Originally Published on

Michael Levitt Chief Burnout Officer

Michael D. Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout consulting firm. He is a Keynote speaker on The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Burnout. He is the host of the Breakfast Leadership show, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, and author of his latest book BURNOUT PROOF.