Three Tough Words for Entrepreneurs to Swallow: “That Didn’t Work”

Plan A Didn't Work
For any entrepreneur, writing your annual plan is a daunting task. I began my company’s plan for 2013 in October 2012. I wanted ample time to plan, process and deliver my plan to my Advisory Board. While grateful for the time spent developing a solid plan, what I’ve learned since then may be the three hardest words an entrepreneur will ever say: “That didn’t work.”

To be a great entrepreneur and build a strong company, you must be willing to pivot. Writing a year long plan can feel like setting in stone a path to success. Deviating from that path or admitting a part of it was wrong can be an exercise in both resilience and diminishing the effects of a big ego.

Take into consideration these three questions when you’re wondering if a part of your plan just isn’t working:

1. Have you done all you can to achieve success? In admitting something didn’t work, you have to examine whether you did the work to make it happen. If something in your plan isn’t working because of your own time management or laziness, it’s not worth walking away from. However, if you have worked tirelessly on an event, program or project that simply can’t get off the ground, it may be time to abandon that section of your plan.
2. Is your time better spent elsewhere? If one portion of your plan is flourishing while another is in shambles, perhaps you should devote your time to working on the flourishing portion instead of trying to save the sinking ship. Success in entrepreneurship is not always about correcting what went wrong. Sometimes you have to find out what went right and simply do it again.
3. Is this portion of your plan unique to your company? Differentiation is key in today’s start-up world. If the part of your plan that isn’t working is something a key competitor is already succeeding at, you may want to consider abandoning it to focus on the portions of your plan that are truly differentiating in the marketplace.

Entrepreneurs notoriously hate failure, but must accept it in order to succeed. The sooner you realize something isn’t working, the sooner you can turn your attention to what is working and ultimately what will help you grow and scale.

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