On failure and learning from mistakes in business
There is great truth in that it’s ok to make mistakes, but not ok not to learn with mistakes. I am a great believer of this rule. In fact, I believe mistakes and failure are necessary ingredients of success. How can you evolve your business if you don’t try new angles, if you don’t take risks? Now, one thing is to fail and make mistakes. But you must learn from your previous mistakes, otherwise you get nothing from your past experiences and you’ll basically go in circles, consuming time and resources, eventually failing again in a spiral of déjà vu errors. There is a basic error I made in my past professional life, prior to Frotcom, which I keep monitoring, not to let it repeat. The error is this: not to focus your resources and energies, shooting at every new business possibility. Believe me, sometimes it’s hard to resist when customers or business partners invite you to participate in projects which are only slightly misaligned with your current vision. And the invitation usually comes with a tempting reward in the form of a major deal or the opening of a door to a new market. So why would saying “Yes” be a mistake, especially when we already have the technical know-how and the tools to accept the challenge? Where’s the catch? The catch is that 1) you’ll redirect resources and energy from your mainstream activity/product to a side-project, reducing speed and becoming less competitive in your core business; and 2) you’ll have a foot on a new market or product line, for which you do not have the necessary market know-how, appropriate distribution channels or marketing strength. In other words, you created a product for a market in which you’re not prepared to become a leader. And being in a market where you cannot compete to be a leader is usually not a good idea. You’ll usually make a lot more mistakes dealing with a reality you do not know so well. That is why in Frotcom we tend not to let ourselves listen to the appeal of side-projects, just as Ulysses refused to listen to the enchanting voice of the sirens. This does not mean at all that Frotcom will not take new challenges, as long as they are in line with our vision. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start. And that’s how we were able to create what is now recognized as one of the most well designed and powerful systems in the world. Yours, Valério.