“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” -Tallulah Bankhead 

We as humans hate to make mistakes. And to take it a step further, we as humans hate to accept that we have made a mistake. It doesn’t help that we live in the social media era where everyone’s “perfect” world and successes are continually flaunted for all to see. It definitely makes failures taste even more bitter – especially in business. Being a woman in business, I feel like I am already being scrutinized. Pair that with constantly trying to prove everybody wrong, it makes making mistakes an even tougher pill to swallow. 

I like to think of mistakes as growing pains. Growing pains that, even when handled with extreme caution, are inevitable. Some bring us a life lesson, some bring introspection and some make you ugly cry – either way you slice it, making a mistake sucks. BUT in a way it is a sign of forward progress. You will take what you learned and apply it to life moving forward. And if you’re smart, you will never make the same mistake twice. 

Being a new company, we were terrified of making mistakes. I think when you are presented with a situation and you get a less favorable outcome, it’s time to take a step back and assess. Try to identify what could have been done better and how to identify red flags. I wanted to share and reflect on some of our company’s mistakes. I think it’s important for our readers/followers to see the full picture and not just the pretty parts. Because it’s not all pretty and some of those mistakes were expensive. And also because I know that with every mistake we make, we are that much closer to getting it right. 

Be Careful Who You Take Advice From: We were naive to think that everyone had our best interest at heart. It took a very selfish/immature “business man” to teach us that not all advice is good advice. Usually people don’t give advice for free. So if you are taking advice from someone that is monetarily benefiting from the outcome of that advice, take it with a grain of salt. Trust your instincts. Fill advisory roles with people that are invested in seeing you do well. 

The Success of a Company is not Dictated by the Number of it’s Employees: For some reason we thought we had to hire in the first year. I was under the impression that a company’s growth directly correlates to how many people are in it. Which, in hindsight, doesn’t make any sense when you are trying to build a foundation for a sustainable business. What does make sense is building it slowly and gradually with your own blood, sweat, and tears. We wanted to eventually build a company where our employees call home. And we still will. An important part of the process to getting us to that point is working out the kinks. Laying the groundwork and building the systems based on our company values is how we will create a sustainable company. Hiring employees before any of that is complete is a sure fire way to implode. The hiring will come when we’re ready.

We Didn’t Know Who We Were: Yes, we knew that we were a “women owned business”. But when it came to our company identity, we had a little bit of an identity crisis. What I mean by that is this: we didn’t have a target market in place. Everyone uses energy, so we can target everyone right? Wrong. Not honing in on a particular market will just spin your wheels. You won’t gain traction, the focus is too broad. So what did we do? We took a step back and assessed what our “client” looked like. That’s how we emerged in the industrial space. All of a sudden we knew who we were because we knew who our client was. 

Don’t Let People Waste Your Time: Don’t EVER let anyone treat you like your time is not important. It is. They aren’t. Cut them out of your business like we did. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For What You Want: This sounds like a basic human function right? It’s a lot harder than it looks. I can’t tell you how many times we have looked at each other and have asked “Should we ask for this”? Almost as if we were asking ourselves if we deserve it. We do business with mostly men. At first, I will say that I was slightly intimidated. Not because I was afraid but more of my lack of assertiveness. I have learned that the only way to get what you want is to ask for it, unapologetically. I’m still working on that last part. 

Energetek would not be where it is now without the aforementioned lessons learned along the way. And for all those that experienced these with us, thank you. We are better because of it. 

Written by: Kristin DeBias