Failure is inevitable in business. It's a lot of trial and error to get something right whether it be for your internal processes or systems with staff, which is the stuff your customers don't see, or whether it be with your product or service, what you provide to your end customer. In fact, you really can't be innovative without trying new things.
But sometimes trying new things doesn't work out.
For example, in 1985, the world's most well-known soft drink company Coca-Cola wanted to increase its market lead over Pepsi. So it innovated and introduced New Coke. "The new Coke would have a smoother, sweeter taste -- similar to Diet Coke, but sweetened with corn syrup. Market researchers and pollsters were sure it'd be a hit," CBS News reported in an article about the flop of new Coke 30 years later. But all did not go according to plan.
CBS explained that Coke fans were angry as they found the new Coke to be too sweet. In fact, only 13 percent of soda drinkers liked the new recipe according to a poll taken at the time. It created such an uproar that people banded together to force Coca-Cola to go back to the original formula -- they collected signatures in California, set up a hotline in Seattle, and expressed their outrage to the media. Seventy-seven days after the launch of new Coke, Coca-Cola admitted its mistake and brought back the original Coke formula as Coca-Cola Classic.
Coca-Cola was able to recover from this mistake. It learned that it had fiercely loyal and passionate customers who wanted a say in the Coke brand. And that's key in business. As an entrepreneur, you have to try things, they might not work out, but you have to learn from them and keep charging forward.
So how do you move ahead amidst uncertainty, risk, treacherous competition, potential failures, and real failures?
Start with these three steps:
1. Know what happened.
In order to move forward, you have to clearly understand what occurred and what the outcomes were. This can be achieved with some honest evaluation. You cannot learn from your mistakes if you don't understand the root causes.
2. Understand why it happened.
Can you identify the process or lack thereof that caused the mistake? Talk to your customers and/or your employees. Learn about why they think things went wrong or did not respond the way you anticipated.
3. Be at peace with what happened.
You can't change the past, but you can learn from it. Every day is a new opportunity to write your story and to decide how it is going to end.
The greatest asset you can have in your own business is to be fully present every day, in an active mental state. You aren't focused on the past or the future, but the present -- right here, right now, with whatever you are doing.
It's hard to measure, but you know it when you feel it. Feeling it will be rewarding because you're fully honoring what is in front of you -- taking the lessons of the past to shape a better future.
As Leo Tolstoy once wrote, "Remember then: there is only one time that is important - Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power."