Can you become a successful entrepreneur by making more mistakes?

Sometimes a plaster just won't cover it!

Sometimes a plaster just won't cover it!

Warren Buffett, still one of the world’s most successful investors, is good at owning up to mistakes.

He has declared on many occasions that holding onto his textile company in the 1970s was an error and that he accepts full responsibility for not listening to the advice telling him to exit the business.

Even in his latest letter to shareholders he warns that “we will make plenty of mistakes”.

But, according to John Kay in the FT, politicians and corporate leaders just don’t own up to their errors. He quotes Alan Schwatz the ex-CEO of busted Bear Stearns as saying

“with the benefit of hindsight, would I have done things differently? Yes, I would have… I just simply have not been able to come up with anything, even with the benefit of hindsight, that would have made a difference.”

What Mr Schwatz is saying is that no lessons can be learned from our errors. However, I bet he still believes he was worth his large corporate salary for all the years of not being able to make the slightest difference to the outcome?

Oh dear.

So, who is right? And Does it pay to own up to your business errors?

And, if you do own up, does that help you come to terms with what went wrong and get it right next time?

And, can you become a more successful entrepreneur by making more mistakes?


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by Editor

Leader. Speaker. Trainer. Helping snr execs and entrepreneurs achieve their business and funding goals.

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5 Responses to “Can you become a successful entrepreneur by making more mistakes?”

  1. Neil Lewis says:

    My biggest mistake was setting a goal to sell a company for £20m and then fixing that goal into the shareholder agreement.

    I meant that all the shareholders, who were also directors, were determined to stick with the business until it reached its goal.

    This meant when the offer came of £12m – we turned it down.

    Two years later, we closed the business and walked away with nothing.

    That’s a pretty big error – and is all because we set a fix goal and didn’t put a review date on it.

  2. […] Can you become a successful entrepreneur by making more mistakes … […]

  3. Great post and you are right this is a great way to learn and move forward..

  4. Neil Lewis says:

    Thanks Richard

    I guess the issue is not whether we makes mistakes – but how we deal with that matters?

    Best Regards

  5. Neil Lewis says:

    I was reading about this issue – and two things were raised

    firstly – we learn more when its our own money on the line


    secondly – we tend to have to make the mistake ourselves

    True or false?

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