When I was a kid, I had a large rubber eraser which had the message “I must not make big misteaks” printed onto it – it got well used.Listening to Charles Dunstone at the Real Business Entrepreneurs’ Summit – as he honestly and openly shared the lessons he’d learnt from his biggest mistakes – it highlighted that we really should not erase them at all. In fact, as most entrepreneurs know full well, to be successful you need to have more than your fair share of failures (even if we like call them “learning experiences”) before finding a winning formula. This was the case with many of the excellent Real Business speakers as Errol Damelin, Richard Harpin and Simon Calver were quite ready to admit. Yet not all business leaders are prepared to share these experiences. At last year’s Business Leader’s Network (“BLN”) Growth Forum in Cambridge – another excellent event – each of the speakers was briefed to talk about some of their worst business experiences and how they’d dealt with them. I stuck to the brief, going on the platform early and sharing my business nightmares, only to be followed by a succession of speakers who spoke most eloquently about their successes. It felt pretty lonely! At this year’s BLN Growth Forum (on July 5) I’ll get my revenge, though, as I’m interviewing three business leaders who can expect a real grilling! Feedback shows that while delegates love to hear about success, it’s the lessons learnt along the way that they really want to hear. Whether it be through events like these, CEO networks such as the Young Presidents’ Organisation (which I belong to), or through mentoring colleagues, one of the smartest ways to learn quickly is from the experiences of others. The lessons learnt are rarely competitively sensitive, and the power of collaborative knowledge can have a massive impact on business performance, as it helps us avoid the “bear traps” that others have fallen headlong into. I’m obsessed with us doing everything we can to help UK entrepreneurs succeed in a highly competitive global world – let’s face it, it won’t come from government initiatives. So my plea to the Real Business readership is to take a leaf out of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs Summit, share your experiences, warts and all and let’s do everything we can to help UK business flourish.
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