Turning A Mistake Into A Smart Business Move

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Mistake? What Mistake?

Recently I came across an article on by Leo D’Angelo Fisher in which he shows how to turn a business mistake into an opportunity for your business. I thought to myself, how many mistakes have I made in business over the years?  It took me a thought-provoking moment!  Then, once I accepted that of course I had in fact made mistakes, did I actually benefit from them? Then how did I and the business benefit? The good news is, all mistakes were beneficial as I took a learning mindset into every day of growing and leading my business and in the end, mistakes turn into learnings, learnings become your experience and your experience turns into wisdom. Here’s how.

First, I had to recognise and accept accountability for the mistake and then take corrective action to remedy it. Leo’s article goes further and sets out the opportunities, how to grasp them and blend them into your business operating procedures.

Richard Wakelin started a property advisory business in Melbourne in 1995. After a slow start this business took off and clients found themselves waiting for unsatisfactory long periods of time to be advised. Wakelin called this development, “The Price of Success”.

Yes, bring passion into all businesses, but passion alone will not carry lack of organisation, processes or streamlined systems which ultimately impacts service deliver and customer engagement. For Richard, it eventually all got down to poor staff selection – “We knew how to buy property, but we didn’t have the time or skills needed to manage the human resources side of the business”. A story we’ve heard many times before – the teething problems and cracks that appear when start-up enterprises grow into bigger businesses.

The next development phase Wakelin initiated was “Calling in outside help”. Consultants were engaged to provide the expertise and skills that were lacking at this important stage of the development for the company. These consultants created the systems aligned to business strategy and the human resource consultants took care of the people management – employee acquisition (recruitment), engagement (culture) and retention (performance, learning, development and succession planning).

In the end, it all boiled down to employing the most suitable candidate for the job. It sounds so simple. It is however a process encased in complexity with the balance between technical capability, leadership and company alignment all being equally important to reach a ‘successful appointment’. Cultural fit is an expression used in this commentary – we’ve all heard this term many times before however its meaning and importance has changed and evolved over many years in business. Employees who did not embrace the founder’s (or leader’s) service ethic and quality assurance even though they may have possessed the technical skills for the job, did not develop and progress through the organisation. They were deemed an unsustainable hire based largely on their misalignment to company values and customer service ethic.

Wakelin stated, “In the early days there was no sophistication around recruiting. We now understand that recruitment is a very disciplined, structured process”. Wakelin is accurate in his assessment and learned expensive, disruptive and time consuming lessons by not investing in the right people and the right processes from day 1.

The message here is that not only accept that you can and will make mistakes in the course of your work, but that in recognising them is an opportunity to take action to implement management systems to strengthen the control, management, customer experience and ultimate growth of your entire business.

By applying a learning mindset to the leadership of our people and customers, we will together, watch our businesses prosper.


Hayley James

Managing Director

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