Aug 1, 2022

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The Truth About Making Mistakes in Business


brunette woman sits at desk overwhelmed look on her face as she looks at laptop, crumpled paper lays around her, she holds her hair in frustration. Black text underneath reads "The Top 3 Mistakes I've Made as a Creative Entrepreneur"

Have you ever made a huge mistake that left you feeling like a total failure? Making mistakes can be overwhelming and embarrassing, but ultimately, they’re a part of life. I’m sharing my three biggest mistakes I’ve made and oooh boy, I’m already starting to sweat a lil’ bit. 

Keep reading and you’ll walk away knowing how to:

  • Embrace mistakes as learning lessons

  • Avoid getting screwed over by someone you hire

  • Know when something’s too good to be true

You’ll learn that it’s natural and human to make mistakes. You can still be a confident, kick-a$$ business professional even if you make mistakes.

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What My Biggest Mistakes in Business Taught Me

I’m gonna be honest with you, I haven’t always been comfortable with making mistakes. I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I also know that I like to have things done a certain way. It’s taken a lot of learning, growing, and believe it or not, making a lot of mistakes along the way to get me to where I am now. 

Do I love making mistakes? Of course not. But I also don’t beat myself up quite as much as I used to when I do make a mistake. 

There’s no denying it, making mistakes is a messy, uncomfortable experience. No one likes to make mistakes. But there’s also no one who can ever avoid making mistakes. If someone tells you they’ve never made a mistake, they’re probably lying. 

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes throughout my life and my time as a self-employed business owner and I wanted you to know that you’re not alone. 

Too Good to Be True

One of the mistakes that I’ve made over this past year was believing something that seemed too good to be true. I hate to admit that I feel like I’m easily taken advantage of, but I have a feeling that you’re the same. 

You see, other people’s excitement gets me excited. And while that can be a wonderful thing, it’s also gotten me into difficult situations. 

I’ve been a victim of someone else’s over-promising, of someone wanting to “help” my business and I’ll get really excited and then they can’t deliver. 

Now, when I believe something might be too good to be true, I start asking myself some questions. Instead of taking what they’re offering at face value, I start asking myself if what they’re saying they offer, what I’m paying them, and what I know of the situation is realistic. 

I’ve believed people even when it’s seemed too good to be true and I’ve gotten burned by my blind faith. Now I want to be clear that I don’t think anyone had bad intentions or wanted to truly spite me. 

Even in the beauty industry, we fall guilty of this. There’s a certain element of wanting to be in “the big leagues”. And the recommendation to “fake it ‘til you make it” is very common in the beauty industry. 

Now I think there’s a certain element of truth to that statement. Sometimes you do need to be confident even when you don’t feel confident. But it’s also important to know when to say “I’m not qualified for this” or “I can’t actually take this on”. 

I know I’ve been guilty of over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to clients’ hair and the expectations that they’ve had. 

So how can you tell that something is actually too good to be true? Here are some signs:

  • If someone won’t give you the full information

  • When you ask questions they dodge the answers

  • Not giving straightforward answers

There was a company that I’d hired to do some work for me and I had been blown away by the onboarding process. They had me fill out a long questionnaire, and give them assets and I was genuinely impressed with how organized it all was. 

They had an incredible upfront system, but then as we started working together I found they were often asking me where to find things. I was super confused because I had given them all this stuff. Realizing that follow-through is a huge part of the business was a mega aha moment for me. 

What I learned from this was that I can’t let my emotions make decisions for me. I need to put my feelings aside and just look at the facts. 

Too Trusting

Part of believing something that’s too good to be true is the blind faith and trust that I have for people. I have a bad habit of trusting people without proof. 

For example, I had been recommended to hire a company for a service by someone who knew them. I was totally excited thinking it was going to be great. But the reality was, that the person who referred them had never done business with them.

Pro-tip for anyone hiring: don’t just be referred by someone who knows them. Be referred by someone who’s worked with them and who’s paid them money. 

I often default to trusting people and I used to trust blindly. Genuinely, I used to trust people fully until they proved not to be trustworthy. Now I’ve learned to become a little bit cynical in my life and I don’t blindly trust people. 

A huge warning sign for me of untrustworthy people is a lack of humility. When someone comes across to confident or can’t identify a true weakness, that’s a red flag for me. I don’t want someone to tell me their biggest weakness is “perfectionism” I want them to tell me about a time where things didn’t go right and how they handled it.

It’s important to have systems and contracts in place whenever you’re bringing someone in to do anything to help you with your business. 

The Benefit of The Doubt

The biggest mistake and learning lesson that I’ve had to come to terms with this year was not holding people accountable. 

Here’s the deal: good people can make bad decisions. 

Yup, I want you to go and read that again to make sure it sinks in. Good people can make bad decisions. Even if we care for them and we love them, it’s important to hold people accountable for the mistakes or decisions they’ve made. 

How often have you brushed off a mistake that a loved one made because you want to give them the benefit of the doubt?

I had someone make a really big error that had a huge impact on my business and I’ll be honest, I felt bad about holding them accountable for the mistake. The people-pleasing part of me wanted to brush it off, tell them it’s okay, that I understand they didn’t mean to do it. 

But here’s the thing, if you don’t hold people accountable for their actions, they’re going to go and do the same thing to someone else. And that’s not fair. 

Holding someone accountable to a bad decision or a mistake they made isn’t calling them out as being a bad person. There is a difference between you shaming someone and someone feeling ashamed because they realized they messed up. 

Now, most people will apologize when they’ve made a mistake, but sorry isn’t always enough. 

Learning how to hold people accountable has been the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn this year. Learning that you can hold good people accountable for mistakes and bad decisions they’ve made and that you’re actually doing them a favour has been huge. 

People bank on your kindness and compassion and I want you to know that you can compassionately be assertive. It’s okay to hold someone accountable for their mistakes. Good people can make mistakes and bad decisions and holding them accountable for that doesn’t make them a bad person. 

This email says it so well:

I hope this post has helped showed you that making mistakes is inevitable and that’s okay. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re not the only one who struggles with this.

Thanks so much for being here. It’s been so wonderful to hang out. I hope I’ve given you some insight into the reality of growing and being in business for yourself and that the struggles don’t ever truly go away. 

If you’re working on embracing the mistakes and life lessons that we learn along the way, I’d love to hear from you. Go ahead and shoot me a DM over on Instagram @dawnbradleyhair. See ya next time, friend.

Let’s be besties?

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

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