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Failing for Success? The Anomalies of Business!

Great team, great leadership, tremendous skill and a 1st place finish in the regular season. We had everything we needed to win the title this year, but we got knocked out in the semi-finals. What happened? We played well but still lost. Sometimes you can’t explain the dynamics of sports and just like in business things don’t always go as planned. So what next? What do we take from this failure? What’s most important is realizing that failure is “part of the game” and not to dwell on the “loss”. Instead it’s important to learn from these experiences, what you did well and what could be done better next time. It’s how you respond that matters.

There are a lot of competitors out there and you’re constantly trying to figure out how to put together the right pieces to achieve success. You have to continually evolve and change as time goes by. For example, the playoffs are a different game than the regular season. It’s a higher tempo game with tighter checking and less room for error. When things are going well, you don’t think you need to change things up and individuals often get complacent. But when competitors come out with new ideas, technologies, or more efficient ways of doing things, it might be too late to respond. You always have to remember. What works now, doesn’t guarantee success in the future.  You have to continually try to improve, even when things are going well. Focus on improving your weaknesses and build from your strengths. You have to be able to adapt. When the competition knows what you’re doing, you need to change things up.

Business, like sports and many other things in life, involves success and failure. After speaking to a lot of business owners, I realized that almost every single one of them had experienced a business failure at one point in their careers.  What was common between each one of them was that they didn’t give up. The lessons they learned from their “losses” were valuable in helping shape their actions in the future. And they didn’t blame their failures on bad luck. There was always something they could have improved on or done differently. They also didn’t make excuses. My hockey team was short players, but that’s part of the game.  There are always things that are out of your control. A downturn in the economy, new competition and many other variables can negatively affect your business but great companies are prepared for these risks.

It’s important not to let a business failure deter you from trying again. I know my father was involved in a business early in his career but after it failed he never talked about business again. It just wasn’t him. He wasn’t a risk taker and didn’t want to risk failing in another business so he went back to his 9 — 5 job. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Business isn’t for everyone and given the high failure rate of businesses it’s reasonable to be cautious. But if you want to succeed in business, you have to realize that it won’t come easy and failing is a realistic possibility.

Over the years, I’ve realized the path to success is often failure and it’s the lessons learnt that are key to success in the future. So keep your chin up guys, we’ll be back next year.