Lessons Learned

Published March 2018 by Leanne Millar BSc

Nobody owns a business without learning a few lessons along the way.

So we've been in business 17 months now and it's safe to say over the past 17 months we've made a few mistakes and learned a few lessons.

Personally, whenever I've made mistakes I've always made a mental note not to do that again or next time to do it differently but I've never thought to actually document lessons learned, therefore it never occurred to me to document them for my business.

It was brought to my attention recently that this is something that I should be doing as a force of habit. Having never had any real administerial positions in the past I wasn't aware of this and initially, my thoughts were "Is this really necessary?"

I had it explained to me that as my business grows it becomes harder and harder to keep mental notes of mistakes made in business. As you attain staff members they are unlikely to be mind readers and they may make the same mistakes you did. Documenting lessons learned helps to ensure that mistakes aren't repeated and situations are handled differently based on the knowledge of how you have done things in the past.

So I've begun to document lessons learned. To summarise these are the ones that I have learned so far:

  1. Always ensure you are speaking to the decision maker when taking quoting and invoicing new clients. Especially when dealing with larger corporations.
  2. Ensure to attain a proper brief from clients at the beginning of the project. Don't just find out what they want, dig deeper and find out what they really need.
  3. Communicate properly. Even if you've made a mistake and your out of your comfort zone, talk to your clients about it, their response may just surprise you.

What I have found is that by documenting the lessons learned I take the time to reflect on the good and the bad of a project. Lessons learned don't always have to be negative ones. They can be positive outcomes that you may want to repeat in the future.

For example: "Discussed price with a client, the client tried to lower the cost, made it clear that I wasn't prepared to budge, the client paid the fair asking price. Learned that I should stick to my guns on pricing as I charge a fair price, to begin with."

My recommendation is that for anyone who is doing a serviced based job, write a lessons learned report for each project. Take a few minutes to reflect on everything that happened good and bad. It takes only a few minutes but reflection allows you to create the correct process to ensure that the service that you offer is the best that it can be.


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