Here at Smith Cooper, we are fortunate to work with a really diverse range of entrepreneurs – some who are in the preliminary stages of their journey, as well as others who are well established in the arena. Divergent in nature, there is a common thread that amalgamates all entrepreneurial journeys, and that is getting things wrong.

From having too much on the go at once, or growing too quickly, to being unrealistic with expectations or becoming complacent – there are some really valuable lessons to be learnt along the road to success.

Sometimes costly, usually unsolicited, and often unexpected, mistakes are one of the unavoidable side effects of being in business but are no doubt habitual building blocks for success.

But don’t just take our word for it – here, some of our wonderful clients offer their candid experience when it comes to making mistakes.

Don’t promise – or expect – the world

Andy Wallace, Managing Director of The Robot Exchange discusses the importance of not over-promising in the early stages of entrepreneurship, something which he did himself. “The conversations you need to have early in the process to attract talent means that you tend to over promise before really knowing what the company will turn out to be and achieve.”

“I feel sorry for some of my early colleagues who were sold the dream without me having really had the time to assess whether a start-up or scale up was the best environment for them to flourish. The multiple hats you are forced to wear mean that you just don’t have the time to support and develop people along the way in the early days. It’s a guilt I carry!”

Similarly, there’s a valuable lesson to be learnt in that you can not expect everyone to feel the same way about your entrepreneurial vision as you do, as James Twigg, Managing Director of Total Integrated Solutions (TIS) comments, “I have made plenty of mistakes along the way, as we all do.  I have trusted far too many people to align and deliver but not everyone thinks or feels the same.”

A right way – and a wrong way – to grow

And sometimes, mistakes may occur under another guise, as Benjamin Rosende, CEO of RDT explains – “I have made a lot of mistakes. [One of the main ones] being that we grew too fast at the beginning. Our company was very successful in the very early stages [from an outsider’s perspective], but as a result we grew too fast, faster than a rate at which we could operate at efficiently internally. The lesson learnt – put more controls in place to better manage growth.”

Enhance your business acumen, and focus on what you are good at

Further to this, Craig Free, Muffin Break franchisee adds “Do not think that just because you are doing well at one business you will succeed in others – I have had several other businesses, ranging from ice cream shops to waste collection businesses that have not been successful.”

He also adds “I also didn’t read Kiyosaki’s books soon enough.  Rich Dad Poor Dad [a book written by Robert Kiyosaki which advocates the importance of financial literacy, financial independence and building wealth through investing, starting, and owning businesses, as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence] should be required reading for all 16-year olds.  I am not a massive advocate of self-help books BUT Kiyosaki’s ideas are so simple and so well presented.”