Welcome to a new year. Time for a fresh start, exciting opportunities and a to-do list themed around the path to success. It’s doubtful your Top 10 includes failure. But maybe it should.
This is not a ‘misery loves company’ pep talk designed to comfort those whose businesses bear the bruises of tough times. As the first in our series on best practices for 2015, this is a 101 on how to proactively manage losses into wins.
Succeeding by way of failure goes way back. We’ve all heard stories like Thomas Edison’s 2,000-plus attempts at inventing the light bulb or the rejection Alexander Graham Bell endured when he introduced his ‘useless gadget,’ the telephone. Even Elvis was fired by the manager of the Grand Old Opry. Ancient history, you say? Many of today’s most heralded entrepreneurs have had their bubbles burst—very publicly and, sometimes, more than once.
Driven by the change-a-minute technology industry, the result is a trend in business culture that recognizes failure as golden opportunity.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not advocating complacency, inadequacy or non-performance. No one should set out to create a sinking ship. What we’re talking about is exhibiting an educated boldness in your business, while knowing how to adapt and learn from mistakes—an approach we not only preach, but practice at ConnectWise.
When ConnectWise set out to revolutionize customer communication and remote support through the development and launch of ChatAssist, we adopted the mindset of these guidelines:
Let go of fear.
From a young age, experiences in school have taught us that failure is unacceptable and largely irreversible. Fear of failing hinders us from taking action and moving forward. Reverse that thinking and be brave. Truth is, most accomplishments result from what’s learned from mistakes.
ConnectWise knew there were established chat products out there, and we could have let fear of a saturated marketplace stop us from developing ChatAssist. Instead, we moved forward, confident we could make something better.
Fail Fast. Learn Fast.
With the business of technology moving so fast, slow movers will be run over. Taking small but rapid steps toward a goal—such as a product or innovation release—can quickly uncover errors as you go. This allows potential failure areas—everything from packaging to pricing to performance—to be identified at the beginning of a process, where they can more easily and effectively be corrected, rather than at the end with a more painful loss of investment and face.
In developing ChatAssist, we had to move quickly but understood the basics of what our partners needed: chat, ticket and time integration, and remote control. We also knew their honest input would allow us to perfect the final product. So we moved forward fast, giving them a version 1.0 to pick apart. They provided the feedback we needed to move to our next step quickly—and successfully.
Plan to Fail.
Before moving forward at full speed, determine your point of no return. Have red flags in place to announce warning signs of impending problems, and know your recovery plan if those flags are raised.
ConnectWise clients are our greatest assurance against failure. When something goes wrong, we reach out immediately to find out what happened and how we can make it right. This turns potential failure into a redirection toward success—and customers feel part of the process. In the case of ChatAssist, our development team was on standby to react quickly to client feedback.
Anticipate and Adapt
Change is inevitable, nowhere more so than in the technology business.
Be ready to pivot when, how, and as often as necessary to stay on top. This means a willingness to experiment and be ‘the first.’ The margin for error in the unknown can be scary, but managed wisely, small stumbles can springboard to huge success.
ConnectWise believes in the power of flexibility, closely monitoring client reaction not only for ChatAssist, but all offerings. Our teams are onboard with change, encouraging feedback from multiple channels including marketing, sales, support, and direct users.
In the words of football legend Mike Ditka, “Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.” You may not yet be ready to totally embrace failure. But knowing you can learn as much from mistakes as successes will give you the confidence to boldly move your business forward in 2015.
Are you on top of the constant changes and new competitors that threaten your market share? We’ll share tips for getting—and staying—ahead in our next ‘best practices for 2015’ post.