It happens to the best of us. Sooner or later, we all make bad decisions. Small business owners make critical decisions all day every day, sometimes at a high level of risk. We have to be nimble, think on our feet, and make decisions quickly and confidently.

What’s the inevitable downfall of all this decision making? A blunder. Sometimes it’s a little snafu and sometimes it’s a biggie, but we all have to learn to bounce back from bad decisions and keep rolling with the punches.

Here are a few of my favorite tried and true steps to bouncing back after making a bad decision:

1. Assess the damage

It’s important that you get some perspective on this thing. So you screwed up. Just how badly is this screw up going to impact your business, your reputation, and your bottom line? The worst thing you can do is try to shove it under the rug or ignore it. To get a handle on things, you have to get a clear picture of what exactly went wrong and what pieces you have to pick up to put back together again.

2. Own up to your mistake

Does this poor decision impact others? If so, you’ve got some explaining to do. Just be straight and to the point. Some people might not take the news too well, but it’s best to face the music if an apology is in order.

3. Forgive yourself

Life will go on. This too shall pass. Nobody’s perfect… and all that good stuff. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Even if what you did was pretty dumb and the consequences seem overwhelming, you have to cut yourself some slack. If you’re really feeling depressed about it, get professional help.

4. Get your mind off of it

Do something active, fun, or relaxing to take a break from the stress. I’m not asking you to reward yourself for a mistake, but you need to feel refreshed and energetic to tackle your comeback.

5. Create an action plan

How, exactly, are you going to overcome the fallout of your bad decision? What are you going to do, step-by-step? It can all seem overwhelming until you break it down into doable chunks. Remove as much of the emotional clutter as possible, and focus on developing a strategy to overcome what happened.

6. Take action

Don’t let your action plan linger, and don’t wallow in self-doubt. Take the first step, then the next, and pick up momentum. Before you know it, you’ll be back in the swing of things, tackling the mess you’ve made with a renewed spirit.

7. Prevent it from happening again

Never make the same mistake twice. That’s obvious, but it’s not always so simple. How are you going to avoid similar bad decisions in the future? If it was easy enough to make the bad decision, it might happen again. You don’t think so? How many bad habits have you pledged to stop once and for all. How many times have you gained the same five pounds, and then vowed not to indulge in cheesecake before bed ever again? I realize your business decisions are more complex than choosing a helping of cheesecake, but I think you get the point.

8. Move on

Once you’re on the road to recovery from your bad decision and you’ve put steps in place to prevent it from happening again, move on. Wash your hands of it. Put it behind you. Dwelling on the negative serves no purpose. Look toward the future.

As a small business owner, you can’t avoid decision making, nor should you want to. Smart and confident decision making is part of being an entrepreneur and the hallmark of a strong leader. One day, you’ll look back and credit your success to everything you’ve learned from failures along the way. Turn this so-called bad decision into a lesson.

What bad business decision have you overcome in the past?




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