Most of us want to have a perfect business model out of the gate, but that’s a pie-in-the-sky attitude. As much as we all want to avoid mistakes in business, they’re pretty much inevitable. Everybody makes them, and many try to hide those mistakes because they’re worried they’ll be judged for them.
But what a lot of people don’t realize is that in business, there are often happy accidents that lead to a successful business model. In fact, one could argue that mistakes are the lifeblood of a strong business. And those who are willing to admit to their mistakes and pivot are the ones who can turn a blunder into a boon.
Our Guest: Executive Talent Acquisition Expert George McGehrin
On the #WorkTrends podcast, I got to chat with George McGehrin, a man who managed to turn a mistake into a national executive search/recruiting firm–one that has been successful for two decades. For years, people asked George for job search and recruiting assistance, and he said he couldn’t help. Then one day, he decided to try. Suddenly, there was a seven-figure business involving recruiting, coaching, and more. Since then, he has been widely featured on podcasts including Money Matters, Moving Up, and The Entrepreneur’s MBA.
I had to know: How can a mistake like that turn into a great business model? The secret to success, George says, is listening.
“You have to be open to listening to what people are asking you over and over, what their needs are,” George says. “The fifth time someone asks you for something, go ahead and say, ‘Yeah. This is what we charge.’ And you’ll be surprised at what comes of it.”
George says that in order to have a good business model, you have to be financially prepared for anything–even COVID-19. He says that business is a cyclical experience, so any business owner should expect to go through ups and downs.
“A lot of times it comes down to money. Do you have enough to withstand challenges?” George says. “If you’re a business owner, you can’t spend every dollar you make. Or if you work for somebody and you only have one source of income, you need to make sure that you allocate your money properly for a rainy day.”
To Succeed: Test, Fail, and Try Again
Once you’ve turned a mistake into a great business, there are ways to make sure your business model is successful. So what are the key actions to take?
First off: Test everything.
“If you’re going to send one email out to somebody or to a group of people, maybe send out two emails with different language,” George says. You should always be willing to adapt and try new things to get better results.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to fail–and keep going.
“At the end of the day, the more times that you fail, you’re a little closer to winning, right?” George says. “First timers, when they’re starting a business, they say, ‘Oh, it didn’t work. I reached out to 30 people and no one got back to me.’ They need to expect to hear a lot of nos and keep going.”
And finally, while you should be willing to hear nos from potential customers or clients, you also should be ready to say no to opportunities. You shouldn’t expect to do everything by yourself as a business owner, but rather, give tasks to your employees and trust them to come through.
“You have to know what your strong points are. People who do well focus on one or two things that they’re really good at. And they delegate everything else,” George says.