RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
Rhonda Abrams is
the president of
The Planning Shop,
a publisher of books
and software for
LET’S TALK ABOUT a word no one likes: “failure.”
Nobody wants to fail, but let’s face it, some failure
is inevitable—at least it is if you ever hope to succeed. Virtually all success depends on trying things
that could fail. Learning how to fail is a critical tool
for success, in business and in life.
To succeed, here’s the right way to fail.
Fail forward. If you’re going to fail, and you
will, fail in a way that moves you in a new direction. It’s certainly possible to fail backward—doing
things you’ve done before, trying to recapture past
glories or what made you a success a decade ago.
Failure leads to success only if you’re stretching
yourself, trying new things, innovating.
Fail fast. Try new things quickly, test the
Fail your way
results and then make changes. To fail fast in business, give employees the authority to make decisions and act on them. Learn from Google’s product-development mantra: “Experiment, expedite, iterate.” If things don’t work out, move on quickly—without a lot of criticism. Start, fail, change. Fast. Fail smart. You don’t learn much, or gain much, if you fail because you’re doing something stupid and avoidable—things like partnerships imploding because of a lack of communication, employees unmotivated because they’re treated poorly, or not taking care of business fundamen- tals such as contracts or bill paying. Failure is useful only if you’re learning something from it. Fail with integrity. Character matters. Even if you fail, there’s a very good possibility that people who worked with you before will be willing to team with you again in the future. But that’s possible only if you’ve proved yourself to be a person they trust and respect. If you have failed because you are dishonest, because your word is not reliable, because you cheat, then your one fail- ure is very likely to become a permanent failure. Keep in mind that an unexamined failure is just a plain failure. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes and failures to grow. When I was learn- ing to ski, one of my instructors told me, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.” The same can be said for growing a successful company—if you’re not failing, you’re not learning. C
How to handle
Watchdog blog for small biz
THE SMALL BUSINESS Administration Office of Advocacy launched a new small-business blog a year ago, focusing on regulatory issues, small-business research and state regula- tory activity. The Small Business Watchdog has recently featured posts on regula- tions affecting small busi- nesses, unemployment and the economy, and the landscape for small busi- nesses in Washington, D.C., including: • New employment law updates • The Office of Advo- cacy’s efforts to relieve the regulatory burden on the nation’s small businesses • Notes on whether the recession will lead to more entrepreneurship • Small-business profiles for the states and territories Small-business owners and other stakeholders are ncouraged to be part of the conversation. Go to http://weblog.sba.gov/ blog-advo. C
guarantees you may have made. Pay special attention to any debts that have family or friends as co-signers.
FOR MANY small-business
owners, debt is a fact of life.
Yet how you handle past-due
creditors can determine whether
you succeed or fail. Costco
member Jerry Silberman, CEO of
Corporate Turnaround, offers
the following tips to help you
avoid making key mistakes with
Don’t hide when you fall
behind. Getting collection calls
can be stressful. But screening
your calls for collectors can only
make things worse and even lead
to an escalation of efforts on
Know how much you owe.
Without accurate numbers, it’s
hard to project paying your cred-
itors or agreeing to any kind
of payment plan.
Know your liabilities
and exposure. Review
all agreements you’ve
signed and the terms
Look for any
Learn about the different
stages of collection. All col-
lection efforts are not equal.
For example, an out-of-state
collection letter from an attor-
ney could be a simple threat,
while a letter from an attorney
in your state could signal an
Prioritize your creditors
negotiations of any kind,
you must determine
which creditors are
truly vital. Vital credi-
tors are any credi-
tors who provide
products or ser-
vices you can’t
operate your busi-
Don’t make promises you
can’t keep. It does you no
good to promise a payment you
can’t afford to make. Once you
break a payment plan, your
credibility is compromised. This
can harm your chances of an
Too overwhelming? Get
professional help. The right professional can review your entire
situation and present you with
realistic and affordable solutions. Two online resources that
can help: Association of Small
Business Development Centers
( http://asbdc-us.org) and
Corporate Turnaround ( www.