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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Sage advice from Winston Churchill

"Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

These were the famous words of Winston Churchill during a 1948 speech to the House of Commons.

It simply means (and is today's small business tip): learn from your mistakes.

Making mistakes is natural, we all make them.

For example, we manage CIS compliance, and make weekly wage payments to sub-contractors for some of our clients.

This involves tallying up hours worked, matching against hourly rates, and working out the CIS element before making the payments.

Because this is such an important task, one of either myself or Lindsey will prepare the details, and the other will check it through to make sure the numbers are correct.

Sometimes though, there are last minute changes. A customer might have missed some hours, or missed one of their contractors out completely. They'll then communicate the amends last minute on the day of payments.

For this reason we normally begin this task in the afternoon. But for some reason I'd started and finished this task earlier in the day. And then changes arrived.

It's a royal pain in the backside to go back and adjust the payment run once it's been initiated.

I should have know better.

And I lost a lot of time that day as a result.

It's an expensive lesson. It was time I can't get back, and as a business we're paid by the hours we work, so lost time is lost revenue.

It has taught me not to break my own processes in the future.

It's a lesson I can build upon. Particularly as it has hit me in the pocket. But I'll become better for it.

But it's not only mistakes we can learn from. We can pick up useful advice from others in business.

Guy Kawasaki, one of the original designers and marketers of the Apple computer, said: Listen to your customers (while you still have the chance).

Don't make the mistake of thinking everything begins and ends with each job and customer. They're just the beginning.

Which relates to a recent blog we wrote around listening more - a mistake we are all guilty of at times: not listening.

And like most mistakes, this one is blissfully easy to avoid.

Best, Sarah

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