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Mi$take$. The le$$on$ we never forget.

Colleen Hannegan

Never leave a box of eyeglass frames on top of a trash can. This was a $1000. mistake I made during my first year in business.

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.” Pearl S. Buck.

I had just opened a large order of brand new, beautiful designer frames UPS had delivered that morning. As I sorted through the three large boxes, I set one box containing twenty Christian Dior frames aside,on top of the small trash can underneath my front desk. I set about pricing and entering the other two boxes of product while answering the phone and assisting clients at the same time. The day ended before I could complete the order process. I thought of finishing up the order entry but decided to wait until the next morning, not telling my business partner about my plan.

First thing the following morning, I was ready to open the third box and continue pricing and inventory.

I turned towards the spot I’d set the third box. The trash can had not moved, but the box of frames I’d set on it was gone. After ten minutes of  double-checking my work to see if I’d already accounted for the frames yesterday and searching my office for the missing frames, I asked my co-owner if he’d seen the third box and set it aside.

“You mean that empty box that was sitting on top of the trash can?” My stomach was feeling the squeeze of panic.

“It wasn’t empty. It had the rest of the inventory from yesterday’s order, in it! I set it on top of the empty trash can because it was handy while I was going through the order!”

He had taken out all the trash last evening before heading home. The full box on top of the trash, looked no different to him than the boxes of frames I’d emptied and had set aside to discard.

I ran out to the dumpster in hopes  trash pick up hadn’t arrived yet.

No such luck. $1,000 worth of new inventory lay underneath tons of garbage on its way to the dump.

The $1,000 le$$on I learned was so excruciatingly simple it pains me still, 23 years later.

Trash cans hold trash. And don’t ever expect anyone to think differently. Or that co-workers can read your mind.

I made other mistakes over the course of 22 years running my retail business. Everyone’s best lessons are learned from the mistakes we make, than from the victories. Being successful in business means  the victories out number the mistakes! My advice is don’t live in constant fear that you’ll make one, because you will.

“I’ve got to keep breathing. It’ll be my worst business mistake if I don’t.” Steve Martin.

Just pay attention and take your time in handling your daily details.

And breathe.