Building a business means traveling a hard road. Growth happens, but along the way, challenges arise. You spend money on things and get little return. Mistakes, disappointments, and wrong turns make the whole process messy. This means making “tuition payments” that seem like struggles but can actually be blessings.

The key to all of this is understanding how to respond in a way that helps you.

Learning isn’t free

Whether you attend a formal business school or learn by growing your business, knowledge is not free. At some point, one must pay the price. If you go to business school, you make clear tuition payments. You also make tuition payments; however, they come randomly and unexpectedly if you run a business. Here, we discuss the latter.

A tuition payment means any time you spend money on something that doesn’t work out, but that gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes. But, to benefit from the tuition payments you will make, you must recast your thinking.

Suppose you release a product to the world, and nobody buys it. From that experience, you learn how to read the market better. As a result, you made a tuition payment because you learned something.

Let go and move on quickly

Losing money sucks. Mourn for a minute, then get over it quickly.

Since the human mind seems biased towards loss aversion, losing anything hurts greatly. Unfortunately, this pain clouds our vision and prevents us from reaping the benefits that any loss can provide.

But by thinking of losses not just as losses but as tuition payments, you can get past the pain and get into the learning. You can get something out of the injury.

For instance:

  • Having a product launch be dead on arrival can teach you how to find a better product-market fit.
  • Getting burned by a contractor can teach you how to set better expectations and shore up your contracts.
  • A dispute with a colleague can teach you how to communicate disagreements productively.

When something goes wrong — especially if it costs money — you can go from loss mode to learning mode if you look at the loss as a tuition payment rather than flushing money down the drain.

Tuition payments help your business grow

Trying to avoid losses when growing your business stifles your business. Naturally, we don’t want to make silly mistakes or be irresponsible, but for the most part, the cumulative effect of learning from our mistakes is that we become better at what we do. We use that learning to build more substantial businesses.

The key to making that happen is to accept mistakes and learn from them.

Get support to avoid some tuition payments

But, one of the best ways to avoid making needless tuition payments (not all of them are created equal) is to learn from others. That might be peers who have gone through the same thing you have, but many business owners have learned that the best way to avoid costly mistakes (and large “tuition payments”) is to seek professional advice.

In short, learn to rely on those who have already made tuition payments through formal schooling or experience. Naturally, this requires that you make some investment.

The point isn’t to avoid all tuition payments but only those that might have too high a cost and would take too much effort to learn oneself, like anything involving steep consequences like tax, legal, or accounting.

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