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A quick Google search will yield thousands of “manuals” for how to run a successful business, but how can those manuals predict how YOUR business will turn out?
At the end of the day, the secret to success is in the mistakes you make and how you turn those bloopers into valuable business lessons.
For me, those mistakes came with a lot of four-letter words, but hey, I’m still standing to tell you the stories. Here are a few of my favorite missteps.
Paint gave me one of my first and biggest lessons. We we were building 24 canopy beds for a hotel, which is a huge project for us. Each bed has 15 parts, and each of those parts needs to be painted individually. Even with a team to help, it’s a lot of tedious work. The original paint used was an oil-based paint, which takes quite a while to dry and cure, but at the end of five days we shouldn’t have been touching wet paint. We had all the right conditions to dry and cure – ventilation, mild humidity and temperatures that weren’t too low. It was very frustrating, but there was a client waiting on these beds so there was no time for a full-scale investigation. We sucked it up, stripped every single piece and ultimately switched to a much higher quality of paint.
Using the wrong product or making a mistake isn’t always the worst thing. There are times that “mistakes” end up being really great “happy accidents” (This doesn’t include this time I mixed Gatorade with vodka because “the electrolytes balance out the alcohol” – that was and will always be just a mistake.)
A notable Doorman Designs happy accident came just after we were finished with the distressing/aging process on one of our headboards. After the weathering process, a clear finish is applied to the metal part of the headboards to seal everything up. We found out that if the acid agent used to weather the metal isn’t completely dry, the acrylic sealer will react, which changes the look of the metal completely. The result of that reaction is a one-of-a-kind antiquing effect that actually looks really cool, and we continue to use it today.
Whether it’s a “happy accident” or just a boat load of extra work, mistakes are inevitable. They’re going to happen in any line of work. It’s all a matter of how you respond to them.