New Entrepreneurship Research Finds Embracing Your Mistakes is an Opportunity for Growth

Updated on November 8, 2022

What are the traits of successful entrepreneurs? Is it guts, willpower, or the ability to raise capital? According to a new global survey, 89% of respondents say that in order to be successful, leaders need to make mistakes, learn, and grow from those lessons learned.  

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition for National Small Business Week, the international study included 8,000 small business owners and employees across 15 countries, including 2,000 Americans (1,000 small business owners and 1,000 employees with 10 years or more of experience). The study asked respondents to share specific lessons they’d learned through workplace mishaps. Sharing insights from entrepreneurs all over the world teaches valuable lessons for anyone who owns or plans to own a business. 

Fail Fast 

Entrepreneurs reported that it took an average of two failed business ideas before they found one that worked. While failing is difficult and discouraging, entrepreneurs shared that making mistakes helped them learn, grow, and succeed in their future endeavors. The key is to learn from your mistakes and, ideally, avoid them in the future. Almost 90% of small business owners said they learned valuable lessons from each unsuccessful venture.

Be Productive 

The importance of entrepreneurs learning to be more productive is high on the list of lessons. Over 40% of small business owners said that productivity was critical to their success. Many entrepreneurs previously worked for companies where deadlines were set for them by others. Suddenly becoming a boss can be daunting for owners, and many find themselves overwhelmed with work and less productive at first. The old adage“one step at a time” applies to productivity. Set attainable goals for yourself and see each task through to completion.  

Get Organized 

The survey asked small business owners what advice they would give to someone just starting a business, and the top tip was to get and stay organized (42%). Documents should be easy to access and marked, whether they are stored digitally or on your desk. Another way to organize your workday is to make a list of your tasks and prioritize those that must be completed. Color-coding items – for example, red for urgent, blue for today, and yellow for later completion – helps many owners identify hot activities. Set a timer to dedicate yourself to each task before taking a break. Knowing you have time constraints and something to look forward to can help you complete tasks faster.  

Learn to Prioritize 

Over 30% of global respondents believe that learning to prioritize work is critical. But how? Since our school days, we have been instructed to make lists and set deadlines. Many business owners make lists and then become overwhelmed by their workload. Instead of focusing on completion, they procrastinate. Aside from making lists, entrepreneurs must understand what tasks are essential to complete, and why. What items are essential each day for your business to succeed? For example, if your inventory is low, ordering goods is a top priority. Perhaps sales calls are next on your to-do list to keep the business in the black. Allow at least 30 minutes per day to express appreciation to customers and partners. Giving thanks for a business referral or a large order is critical to the growth of your company. 

Never Stop Learning 

Entrepreneurs also believe that ongoing learning is essential for innovation and the development of new ideas. More than a quarter believe that continuing education is the secret sauce that helps business owners stay on top of their game. With so much to do in a day, how do entrepreneurs fit training into their schedule? Articles can be read and events can be attended during breaks or evenings thanks to more content being available on demand. Reading various news stories, as well as reviewing industry blogs and research, can help you come up with new ideas to keep you and your business fresh. Keep a “spark list” near your workspace where you can jot down thoughts and ideas that will help you grow.

Learning from mistakes makes us all stronger – especially business owners. Understanding how to set priorities, be productive and organized, aids entrepreneurs in staying on task and on schedule. Keeping up with industry can help you generate new ideas to help you manage your work and succeed in business.