Editor’s Note: No one gets it right the first time

Failure is a critically important experience for entrepreneurs. It undoubtedly hurts to fail at something, but it’s an important lesson that helps entrepreneurs understand more about the market, their business model and themselves.

Take for example, Davey Tree Expert Co., this month’s cover story. Pat Covey, president and COO of U.S. operations, made a statement that embodies what I’m getting at. He said, “If someone would have said five years ago that you would do five acquisitions in the first six months of the year, I think we would have looked around and said, ‘How are we going to do that?’”

After the company stumbled through early acquisitions, it had to take a critical look at how it went about acquiring businesses. Davey Tree stepped back, re-examined its approach and took action. The result was the completion of two sizeable deals that the company considers the largest in its history. That led to a string of successful acquisitions that have helped the company expand its presence in the market and earn three times as much revenue as when Covey first started in 1991.

Those acquisitions meant more than new revenue streams and geographical expansion. It brought in talent from those businesses that introduced ideas that encouraged Davey Tree to look deeper at how it operates. That shook up stagnant ways of thinking and injected the century-old company with fresh perspective.

Gaining a different perspective is valuable for business leaders. Columnist Anthony Margida writes this month about the importance of working on the business instead of in the business.

He says businesses can be derailed when their leaders aren’t spending time thinking strategically about their company, and he stresses the importance of finding a balance between the daily grind and long-term planning. That’s no easy task, so Margida outlines tips on how to delegate tasks and buy time to look ahead.

This month, we give a nod to those entrepreneurs that have put long-term thinking at the center of their business by successfully adopting the triple-bottom line model of people, planet and prosperity in our coverage of the Summit of Sustainability Awards. This year’s winners have shown a dedication to the future by being more responsible in the way they use resources, making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.

Owning a business is a gamble. Even something as seemingly stable as the railways can be threatened, as exemplified by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, the subject of this month’s Uniquely Akron/Canton. Passenger service ceased in 1963, casting doubt over its future. Fortunately for the CVSR, a group of citizens fought to preserve the railroad, keeping it together long enough for the National Parks Service to take over responsibility and preserve the historic railway.

When ideas don’t work, it’s those who learn from their mistakes, regroup and try again who inevitably find success. Whether it’s an injection of new ideas, taking time to look ahead or getting a little help, persistence is rewarded for those entrepreneurs brave enough to keep pushing forward.