I’ve had several discussions lately, by coincidence or not, of entrepreneurs looking at fear of failure, fear of launching, and dealing with mistakes.
I really believe one of the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur is acknowledging and accepting mistakes. If you are going to start a business, or run a business, or grow a business, you will make mistakes. It comes with the territory. You have to deal with uncertainty all the time, you have to make decisions quickly, and you won’t always be right.
Some people can’t live with mistakes. They plague themselves about them. They manufacture intricate stories about how it wasn’t really a mistake. They get so afraid of making them that they don’t do anything. They are constantly on the defense.
Don’t let that be you. Keep your eyes open. You’ve made mistakes, you’ll make more of them. Embrace the mistake, take long enough with it to catalog in your mind what you did wrong and what you’ll do differently in the future, and then let it go.
If you can’t live with mistakes, keep your day job.
Perhaps it’s not a mistake that the “business mistake” category in this blog has 116 posts — not counting this one. And I love John Caddell’s mistake bank blog posts at themistakebank.com.
Hold a mirror up to a mirror, and you get some kind of representation of infinity, or something like infinity, intriguing but hard to explain. Just do it.
That’s something like what happened to me yesterday with a riff on business ideas. It started with my first view ideaswatch.com, which is a new website where people can suggest, list, and discuss new business ideas. Think of things you want. Things you wish existed. Those are business ideas.
I love it for several reasons: new business ideas are fun; they’re not owned so they shouldn’t be hoarded; they stimulate entrepreneurs; and the site seems well done. And this reinforces my own insistence that too many people overvalue business ideas; that an idea without implementation is just an idea, worth nothing. So why not share?
But it gets better. I clicked onto the site and started browsing the ideas already posted, and I found this one, called “Startup Failures.” Just to make it clear, the image here isn’t the main page. It’s a specific idea, one of hundreds posted on the site.
In case you can’t read the fine print, the idea is:
What if there was a website where people shared their startup failures so others can learn from that.
Which is where we start ruminating on the nature of ideas, and how nobody really owns an idea. Because:
First, there already is something like that, The Mistake Bank, the work of my friend John Cadell. It’s not specifically about failed startups, but its tagline is: learning from faux pas, miscalculations and decisions gone wrong. I posted about it here on this blog last month.
Just last weekend, by complete coincidence, none other but my daughter Megan was on twitter musing about roughly the same thing. The source tweet isn’t exactly the same thing, but it’s close. And their tweets were picked up by others. So people like the idea.
So we have a cool site encouraging people to post and discuss new ideas, and we have a new idea I found there, that’s a good idea, that I’d like to see exist. And we see here that, like all cool ideas, it’s already percolating. It’s out there.
And whoever makes it work deserves to make the money. If you, for example, take this and make money on it, then you and nobody else deserves the money. The value is building the business, not having the idea.