Mistakes are an essential part of learning, especially when you’re running a business. Whilst no one wants to do something stupid or costly, ultimately, errors can serve to make us more resilient – as long as you’re willing to brush it off and learn from the experience. It can also make you more inclined to try new things. There are many quotes from famous entrepreneurs who point to the importance of failure en route to success.
Here 16 business owners share their top blunders with you. Some of them are laugh out loud funny and I know I can relate to a lot of them.
“I can share a lot of mistakes as a business owner. A few are:
- Working on enhancing a product or service where I should’ve focused on customer development instead.
- ‘Sexy Shiny New Object Syndrome’ for tools that were not necessary at the beginning.
- Not going niche enough.”
Carsten Pleiser – Design Buffs
“Wearing my pyjamas (and bed hair) for an important, early morning client conference call and not realising my video was on the whole time. My humiliation didn’t stop there either. I got up to close my office door and, in the process, showed them the hole in my PJs at the back. That’s when they told me I was on their screens. The words, “We can all see you, Kia” will haunt me forever.”
“A fellow freelance designer whom I went to uni with had a wedding stationery project for a family friend and somehow ended up mixing up the starter and pudding on the menu. They didn’t realise until the big day when guests were reading ‘Sage & Onion Stuffing Balls’ as a dessert. Luckily for them, all the guests saw the funny side.”
No one likes a break-up
“Trust your gut feeling, it is always right. I’ve stayed with a client too long on more than one occasion. My gut said walk away each time.”
“My two biggest mistakes were that I didn’t put a contract in place with a client I’d successfully worked with before (so thought it would all be fine) and got screwed out of £1,200. Also, paying a chunk of my inheritance money from my grandparents to a factory to make some handbags for me, hoping to start a brand from it. They sent me all faulty goods then stopped responding. I never saw that money again.”
Alex Pitt, Alex Pitt Creative
Taking on the big boys
“Spending two years developing software that would compete with industry giants hoping I could take just a small slice of their market share. Guess what, it didn’t, and I wasted lots of time and energy.”
Time is money
“I stayed with a client for too long last year. I’ve under-quoted time for work lately leaving me a bit out of pocket… actually a lot out of pocket.”
Next stop: Copyright issues
“When I was first working in a design studio in the West End we created ranges of toiletries gift packaging for cartoon characters. One huge range was Thomas the Tank Engine. On the front of the sales brochure I was designing I decided he fitted in better if I reversed him. My boss went mad, Thomas has different bells and whistles on each side so the copyright was infringed and refused! We had to cover some of his bits in bubbles! I was saved but learnt a huge lesson!”
Social media skeletons
“Ranting on Facebook groups as many recruiters and business owners scour them.”