As you build a small law firm, learn to turn failure into opportunity

In our last blog, we took a look at what it means to have a growth mindset in your business. One key component to a growth mindset involves how you approach setbacks along the way. If you learn to turn failure into opportunity, you’re acting with a growth mindset.

If you want your law business to succeed, you need to learn to accept a few failures along the way. Clinging to the status quo will not lead you and your business to the next level. Rather, you will stagnate.

Embracing failure

As we develop from children into adults, we learn along the way to avoid failure. We’re taught to ace the test, win the game, shine on stage and to become the most popular kid. The goal, unspoken or blatant, was to be the best.

Now, think back to your childhood and try to remember those moments when you weren’t the best. Failing a test or not making the team might have left you feeling embarrassed and small, and it’s easy to focus on the negative emotions associated with those memories.

However, try to think back to the aftermath of those events:

  • What did you learn from it?
  • Did it lead to a new experience or a new approach?
  • Who helped you through that time? Did you find a new mentor or friend as a result of your failure?
  • What new doors opened up as a result of that experience?

Maybe you tried out for the school play when you didn’t make the baseball team. Maybe you took a break from science and enrolled in a photography class the following semester. Whatever happened, it led you to new experiences or a new way of approaching the problem.

When you can remember the good that came from those early setbacks, you can learn to embrace failure in your adult life as well.

Growing out of failure

Now, think about your small law firm. It’s a business, and there’s risk involved with starting any type of new business. That’s your first win. You launched in spite of knowing the potential challenges that might lie ahead.

In your first few months or years in business, did you do everything right? No, of course not. Nobody who runs a business gets it right 100 percent of the time. Every business owner in the world has a story of what worked and what bombed, but if they had let those missteps stop them in their tracks, we wouldn’t have any business success stories.

In fact, those so-called bad ideas or failed strategies likely sparked future success for many of those business owners. As Sujan Patel wrote in Inc.:

“Confidence doesn’t just happen from officially opening your doors for business. It’s something you acquire by nurturing it and confronting those things that typically hold you back.

Know that failures will happen no matter your business idea. The point isn’t to avoid them altogether, it’s to keep putting the momentum behind those failures to overcome them.”

Overcome and grow. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one bad outcome means you aren’t cut out for success.

It’s also tempting to brush it under the rug and try to move past it. While you should let it go in the end, you should take the time to review what went wrong.

To overcome and learn from business failures:

  • Gather information without blaming. Establish a culture of learning and improving within your team, but don’t focus on finding a scapegoat.
  • Seek insight from your employees and your clients. Don’t assume you know the ins and outs of the situation. Ask the people involved. In fact, this open communication could help solve a problem and turn critics into fans when they feel their concerns have been addressed.
  • Determine where the breakdown occurred. Was the flaw in your initial goal, the process used, staffing, technology, lack of research? Pinpoint which area led to the problem.
  • Try again. Make a plan for how to proceed with the next iteration. Maybe it means tweaking your initial approach, or maybe it means scrapping it and trying something entirely new. Either way, keep your goal in mind as you re-strategize.

Remember, your goal here is developing a growth mindset. Reviewing a failure doesn’t mean ruminating on it; it means learning from it. Take the lesson and leave behind the embarrassment or guilt. Grow.

To learn more about growing a small law firm in Denver, contact us. We offer both office space and co-working space for lawyers. 

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