Here’s a great quote from Richard Branson: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and falling over.”
Branson is talking about the importance of learning from mistakes. Which is the basic philosophy behind a global movement known as “F’Up Nights”. Beginning in Mexico in 2012, F’Up Nights is a storytelling event that enables people to openly acknowledge the mistakes that impact our personal and professional lives.
At these nights, speakers bravely share their epic fails to help other people learn. Since the first event, 1578 stories have been shared with 189,090 people in 252 cities across 80 countries.
The Sydney F’Up Night was recently held as part of CeBIT Australia 2018. Featured speakers were Luther Poier, CFO of BlueChilli, Christy Laurence, Founder and CEO of Plann, and Brendan Yell, Director, Community Development, APAC, SendGrid and Startup Grind Australia. The trio shared their biggest mistakes, but it was the lessons they learned (and how they were able to move on) that the large crowd most appreciated.
Although their experiences were different, there were three key lessons, also known as the three Rs...
Lesson 1: Take responsibility
“There’s a lot of shit out there and all of it is your shit,” said Luther. “Take extreme ownership – and take care of it.”
Taking responsibility can mean a number of things, from making sure you have a watertight shareholder agreement in place and knowing your accounting books back to front to making sure you are using the right people to deliver on your business promises.
It may sound obvious (and hindsight is always a wonderful thing), but many people get caught up in the excitement of starting or growing a business – and overlook the essentials.
Lesson 2: Recruit wisely
Touched on as part of Lesson 1, the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people can’t be understated. “Magic happens when you work as a team,” said Christy.
Luther agreed, saying: “The people you work with are the most important thing.”
As well as the pros of working with people who are on your side, there are serious cons to not recruiting wisely. Christy learned this the hard way, when trying to build an app with no technical lead. Naturally, after some lightning-speed growth and initial success, her app came crashing down around her ears in spectacular fashion.
While not a new lesson, we can all be reminded of the pain that can befall us when we try to do everything ourselves.
Lesson 3: Be resilient
Luther, Christy and Brendan all agreed that resilience is the key ingredient if (or when) the proverbial hits the fan. They told stories about losing business, getting ripped off by supposedly trustworthy partners, losing trust (of others and in themselves) and suffering reputational damage. They spoke about shedding tears and even about developing serious health issues.
But they all survived, and all became stronger from the experience, putting what they learned into practice to grow as people and business leaders. And that, after all, is the main message from F’Up Night – that it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.
If you’ve got a great idea for a business our How to launch a start-up ebook can help you turn it into reality (avoiding some of the common mistakes along the way). Download it today.