One thing a lot of business owners talk to me about is the desire for a clean sheet.
“If only I could start again without these particular clients / staff / problems / debts / unpaid invoices / services I shouldn’t have started selling / software I shouldn’t have started using…”
It’s like wanting to live in a computer game. Your character dies, so you start again with all your lives in tact, but you retain the knowledge from your previous mistakes. Conscious reincarnation, if you like.
And while there are always ways to start again in real-life, it’s never quite as clean and easy as a floating ghost of a cartoon character drifting off the screen to some descending music (I admit my computer game experience is not particularly current).
The obvious question is: if you regret a decision, what can you do about it? And perhaps more importantly, what’s holding you back from making a change?
Why won’t you change?
If you’ve introduced a new service or product to your business, a new member of staff or way of working and it’s not going so well, is there a genuine reason why you can’t change it?
Or do you just not want to admit that you got something wrong?
People will go to extraordinary lengths to justify a previous decision (or opinion) in spite of overwhelming contradictory evidence. You can choose between being miserable for months or years or being a bit embarrassed for probably a couple of days (don’t forget that nobody remembers your mistakes as clearly as you do).
Understanding sunk costs
Your decisions shouldn’t be based on unrecoverable money or time: you can’t change the past, you can only change how you react to your current situation.
If you’ve invested money in, say, a project to set-up a new project management system and it’s very clearly not going to work, the answer is not to throw more money at it, but to work out whether you can live with what you have, abandon it completely or start again.
Take the benefits
Every time something goes wrong you’ll learn from it. Use your experience from the last staff hire to get the next one right.
Whilst failure isn’t something to be celebrated, it can be turned into a positive experience. In life you do get to start over, much more than you think you do. And you’re always a more experienced, more knowledgeable person for it.
If something isn’t right, change it. Why wouldn’t you?