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Blog Challenge: Worst Business Decision

As we continue exploring our mistakes, with last week’s blog challenge about the worst mistake we’ve made in a relationship, this week I’m going to challenge your work history and experience.

Blog about the worst business decision and mistake you’ve ever made.

We’ve all made dumb business decisions. Taken jobs we hated, told off a co-worker when we shouldn’t, overslept too much, worked too many hours with little return, and…we’ve all been there, done that.

By sharing your worst business decision and mistake, you show the world how you’ve grown, learning from the mistakes you made. Sure, you earn a few scars, but it is the scars that define who we are today, as well as are the symbols of where we’ve been.

I’ve made my share of business mistakes, and do. Business is part of the lessons of life. One of the worst came on the seventh anniversary of my company at the time, many years ago. Things were going great, but I wanted to make a change. I decided to shake things up and do a total restructure. I wanted more adventurous clients, willing to move into this new technological world that was forming, and embrace the social the Internet was creating with the introduction of email and online user groups to the average person. The web hadn’t started, but the Internet was on the way in that direction. In the process of restructuring, I took on a client I knew couldn’t be trusted. With this popular and newsworthy client, the launch of my new advertising company would only benefit by such association, right?

Wrong. I threw massive time, money, and energy into their company, promoting them from a community business to national, working towards international coverage through the Internet and traditional marketing and advertising media. By the end of the first year, my accountant quietly told me that we’d put so much energy into that single client, we’d reduced our client base to only a few rather than grow. The others didn’t want that association I was counting on. What was worse, the client hadn’t paid in seven months. Promises to pay were lost in the energy of the media frenzy, glamor, and paparazzi.

A week later, the client disappeared. Phones disconnected. Accounts closed. Vanished. Creditors turned to me as if, by association, I was responsible for their unpaid bills. We tried to track them down, eventually bringing in the police, but it was three years before they reappeared only to be out of reach.

In those three years, I totally changed my entire business, and my way of thinking about business that has led me to my business style today. Trust is there, but it is now cynical, waiting for the proof and payment before investing my time and energy. I understand clearly that talk is cheap. Action speaks loudly. Listen. The truth is always spoken if you are paying attention. Pay attention.

I also don’t waste time, especially my client’s time. Having been on the other side, I see the bigger picture. The direct style so many of my clients and readers appreciate comes from that time when I wasted so much time with cheap talk and little follow-through action. Direct. To the point. Listen. Learn. Decide. Get it done. Next?

I also learned that risks can have terrible outcomes, but also terrific rewards. After working long hours with little sleep, and damaging my health, to pay off all the debt, I closed down the corporate part of my life. I went freelance, jumping off another cliff into a whole new world. In the end, the loss was to my benefit as my clients know that I have the business experiences, and losses, and am wiser for the lessons learned. They win because I lost so much in that single year long experience.

We all make mistakes in everything we do. That’s part of learning. I want you to blog about your business decision gone worst, not just wrong, and the lessons you learned and how these mistakes changed your life.

These are published weekly and are an attempt to kick your blogging ass. They serve to challenge your thinking and efforts in blogging and blog writing. To participate, start challenging yourself now. Today. Go for it.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Sam
    Posted August 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Every one make mistakes in life but the right thing is to learn lesson from mistakes we do and makes sure they are not repeated.

  2. batguano101
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Without a doubt my worst business decision
    was getting caught with 142 tons of 5 1/2″ N80 API oilfield casing sitting in a laydown yard in East Texas at the end of the oil boom crash in 1982.

    I saw the speculation was going to crash and tried to get three little shallow recovery wells sold out and drilled before I turned the casing back into cash.

    The “good ol boys” saw I was in a bind and stole the casing through a county judge demanding yard payment in cash or surrender the steel. Just for added twist, they hired official oppression to follow.

    Burnt to the tune of $1.2 and never recovered financially again.

    Lesson: You can build something from nothing in a speculative market,
    and you can have it stolen overnight.

  3. Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I paid to have a company help me start up a business and affiliate website. It cost me about 11,000.00
    and I will probable never make it back! My husband’s and my life will never be the same again. We could lose everything, and I don’t think I’ll trust anyone that has anything to do with the internet again. I really don’t think I’ll have to worry about it anyway the moneys gone. So I wouldn’t have a chance if I wanted to! Plus it would cause the end of my marriage which I know is my fault. I should never have paid that much to teach me how to be an affiliate. I don’t know the answers but I wish that people would care more about what happens to other people. We all are brother and sisters in Gods eyes!

  4. Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    P.S. I do have Word Press and I’ve never had any problems with them.

  5. Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    @ Keri:

    Glad WordPress has not been a problem. It’s free, so no worries with money there. 😀

    As for choosing a company to help you set up something that you are totally unfamiliar with, sight unseen, that’s spells danger in every direction. I do hope you’ve blogged about this on your blog, helping others learn about how to avoid this.

    This blog challenge is about sharing with your blog readers about the lessons learned from your bad decisions, and I’m so thrilled with what people are sharing with their readers. It may help so many to understand they are not alone.

    @batguano101: The speculative market is always risky, but I’m sure you learned more than that. You learned how to survive. Thank you for sharing and I do hope you are sharing your insights learned with your blog readers.

  6. Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Worst business mistake ever got me fired! I used to manage a small campus computer store for a privet university. There was an issue with a bit of merchandise that was ordered by mistake. Because I was too full of pride to admit I had made a mistake, I told my boss that it had been sent to us by mistake and that I would take care of it. Well, to send it back I had to fill out the paperwork for an RMA, which meant my mistake was very well documented in our inventory tracking/point of sales system. So, being full of pride and thinking that no one would find out, I altered all the records to show we had been shipped the item by mistake and thus validating my story. When my boss found out, he reported me to his Supervisor, and I was canned the next day. I was fired, chiefly for lying, but officially for falsifying documents.

    What did I learn? Something that I should have learned long ago, like when I was five years old. Tell the truth, and don’t be afraid to admit that you have made a mistake. I went home that day, told my future wife (we had been engaged for a couple of months) that we no longer had a source of income, and all because I was too full of pride to admit that I made a mistake. It was not a happy day.

    So after spending 5 months out of work, living on the kindness of my friends, I finally found a new job that paid next to nothing (I was making $18 an hour in my old job, and $9.75 was the best I could find) but got me back on my feet. We were eventually able to find an apartment we could afford, and we even pulled off a really fun and creative wedding. I took my 2 years to stop beating myself up and move on after that mistake, and to this day I regret what I did, but in the end I think I ended up in a better place. I learned humility, and I learned the importance of never sacrificing your integrity. And to this day if I’m faced with a decision as to weather or not to tell the truth about something, I have a very compelling experience that kicks me in pants every time as a reminder of what the right thing to do is. I will never go back to that place ever again.

  7. Merra Lee Moffitt
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    The biggest mistake I seem to keep making is that business and life will get better next year. This has me make marketing/equipment/people ‘investments’ that will be paid back later when the sales are better. What if they don’t? I work exclusively with self-employed people to help them make more profitable decisions so they can pay themselves first.

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