The Art of Making Mistakes: What We Learned From Ours
Written By Alyssa Ficcaglia
In life you are bound to make mistakes. We are all human and no one is perfect. It is a part of growing up, a right of passage if you will. The same can be said for your business. As a business owner, you are going to make plenty of mistakes both when you are just starting out and when you think you have everything figured out. No business is perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes.
Anthony and I have had our fair share of mishaps and we will without a doubt have more in the future. Early on in our business we had to make a decision on how we would handle our mistakes. Would we let them discourage us or would we think of them as positive learning experiences? We chose the latter of course. I wanted to take some time to tell you some of our classic mishaps and what we did to make things right so whenever you are faced with a mistake of your own you will know you’re not alone.
One of our biggest mistakes is one I will never live down because it was so preventable. I had a customer reach out to me asking if we could change the verbiage on the “Our Greatest Adventure” nursery sign we offer. She wanted the sign to read “My greatest adventure” instead because it was a gift for her daughter who was a single mother. Of course I made that change for her. The problem was I edited my original design instead of creating a new separate file, and told myself “I’ll remember to change it back”. Well of course I didn’t. A few weeks later I received a message from another customer who ordered the same sign, stating the wording was wrong. Instantly my heart sank because I knew exactly what I had done and realized I had mailed out a handful of these signs with THE WRONG WORDING. I was a mess for days about it but in the end it all worked out. I reached out to each customer and offered them all new ones. Everyone was happy in the end. And I learned a valuable lesson on the importance of thoroughly reviewing every single word on my signs before I send them out.
Another classic mess up I had was when we were first starting out and orders were starting to pick up. In the beginning I had no organizational system for keeping track of interactions with customers. Whether they were reaching out for a custom order or reaching out to let me know something about their order. My system was “i’ll remember” and we all know how that has worked out for me. But anyways, there was one day a customer messaged me to let me know they needed to change the shipping address on their order. At the time I didn’t know I could leave a private note on their order, so I was solely relying on my brain to remember this person needed their address changed. Of course I completely forgot and mailed the item to the wrong place. If you have ever had to file a claim with the Post Office you know it’s a pain and can take time for the package to be intercepted and sent back. While I waited for the original item to be returned to me, I made and shipped a new sign to the correct address. This mess up wasn’t a big deal but it was one of those moments I said to myself “really Alyssa?”
One more story and this one still gives me nightmares because it could have been disastrous. It was the middle of the Christmas rush. We had been pulling all-nighters just to get orders out. There was one weekend in particular we had over 40 packages that needed to go out by the end of that weekend in order for us to stay on schedule. We worked from Friday night to Sunday afternoon with about 4 hours of sleep each night. Sunday was shipping day and by then Anthony and I were delirious. Thank goodness we had an extra set of eyes helping us that day because in the midst of all the madness somehow several of our “Letter to Santa” signs got paired up with the wrong order sheets. Had we not caught it in time, several customers would have received the wrong sign with no time to get them new ones before Christmas. This could have been catastrophic and that’s what makes it so scary to think about.
From all of these mistakes plus the ones I’m still not ready to share, we learned something that has in turn made our business run better. Every mistake is a learning opportunity and a chance to grow. In the course of the year we have been open we have learned so much and everything we’ve learned has come from messing up. The number of times you fall isn’t what defines you, it’s the number of times you choose to get back up that does. When you get knocked down, don’t take it personal. Just brush off the sawdust and get back to work.