Daniel Wesley founded Quote.com to provide consumers with auto insurance quotes from leading carriers. His work has been featured in Forbes, Mashable, Inc., and Fox Small Business.
Most entrepreneurs make their worst mistakes in times of haste, despair or impatience. My own errors are the opposite. Throughout my career, I’ve watched opportunities pass by that I could have capitalized on and benefitted from. Either the financial or personal risk was too great or the time just didn’t feel right, and I regret each one of those missed opportunities.
I work in monetizing Internet domain properties, but like traditional brick-and-mortar stores, I still have to find a product that consumers want and find a way to get that product noticed.
With each new iteration, the goal is to find a domain in its infancy, acquire it, build it and find a company that wants it. While I’ve reached my goals so far, I’ve wondered whether I wasted time in getting there.
When it came to low-risk decisions, I was quick to act, but I hesitated with high-risk, high-reward scenarios instead of acting on instinct. I’ve had many successes in business, but at times, I reflect on those moments of hesitation and wonder whether today would be different if I’d acted more urgently and was less risk-averse.
To enjoy the success I have today, I had to move beyond those fears. Though I made regrettable mistakes, you don’t have to. Here are four ways to avoid them:
1. Relinquish control.
The mind can only hold on to so much, regardless of whether it’s projects for the future or baggage from the past. To learn from mistakes, you must accept them and move on. When you get past the fear of your failures, you gain wisdom from the experience and build a platform for future decisions. Your business will be based on knowledge rather than emotion.
If you take on too much, you create more opportunities for mistakes, leading to time wasted. How can anyone control every single detail, task, or project and expect to succeed without giving 100 percent to any of it? The illusion of having control over everything is dangerous. It costs entrepreneurs time they’ll never get back.
2. Empower your team.
Hiring the right people means relieving the burden. My Achilles’ heel — both professionally and personally — has always been my need for control. I loathe airline travel for this reason. If I’m not flying the plane, then I have no control, so to get through the flight I tell myself the following: I have chosen this airline. I have chosen this pilot. I have empowered him to fly me to my destination, and I trust him to do it.
Relieve some of the burden by hiring capable people and trusting them to do their jobs properly. I have a staff of employees who I’ve empowered with certain responsibilities, and I hold them accountable. If there’s a business opportunity that I know in my gut will be a huge success, then I find a way to seize that opportunity and I get my team working towards it.
3. Return to the family.
I left my traditional job just after my wife graduated from law school. Two weeks later, we discovered we would be first-time parents. Soon, there’d be two people depending on me. I’ve never felt more in control and yet more out of control than I did at that moment.
We all work to provide for our families, but too often the financial imperative means our time with them takes a backseat to business. If we work ourselves into a health crisis, then we have only burdened those we love. Further, if we never take time away from work, we might be successful in business but alone in our lives.
I consciously take time to stop, leave the office and spend time coaching Little League or relaxing at home with my wife. When I can’t do that, simple text exchanges can brighten my whole day. It’s important to appreciate the balance.
4. Get organized.
There were times when I worked through the night to catch up on emails or to-do lists. Not only did that hurt the quality of my work, but it also hurt the quality of my life. I needed to get organized.
I don’t stay late at the office anymore. I don’t miss dinners or bedtime routines. The greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is to organize and get my routine back together. It’s more of a salsa than a well-choreographed ballet, but finding your organizational balance will keep you from wasting time. You’ll soon feel the benefits.
Living in a restricted, disconnected, disorganized world will leave you cut off from stabilizing influences and will open the door for fear to take over. Reconnect with those things — both physical and emotional — that bring stability to your world, and you’ll be able to tackle your fears head-on.