So You Think YOU Screwed Up

Odds are sooner or later you’re going to make a mistake in your business.

I’m not talking about forgetting to post, posting the wrong thing or missing a deadline.

I’m talking something so bad you want to hide in bed all day and never access the internet again for fear of what they might be saying about you.

Just keep in mind that people who do things also experience failure and mistakes. The only way not to make mistakes is to accomplish nothing.

So next time you screw up -and it will happen – just keep in mind it’s all matter of perspective. Because at least your mistake isn’t half as bad as any of these doozies I found on Bored Panda…

Not Purchasing Your Own Domain Name ASAP – According to one user, “Our company said we were going to rebrand, and as it happened one of the employees was already on his way out the door. Before he left, he purchased the domain name the company would need as part of their rebranding. When they finally went to purchase the domain name, they found it was occupied with a tiny website containing a single gif of a character dancing with the caption, “I got your domain!” I have no idea what they had to pay him to get it back.

Lesson learned – if you’re starting a new company or rebranding, purchase the relevant domain name(s) PRIOR to telling ANYONE else.

Rebranding for No Good Reason – HBO Max has rebranded to just “Max”. What’s that, a condom size? HBO Max told people that it was a channel owned and operated by HBO, while dropping the HBO for just “Max” means… nothing other than sounding vaguely like a porno channel.

Then there’s the nearly 50 year old coach company here in the UK called National Express. Everyone knows National Express, what it is and what it does. They’ve spent decades building that brand just to boot it out the door and start calling themselves, “Mobico.” What the heck is a mobico?? A phone service? A co-op for Mobile Oil?

And don’t get me started on Facebook trying to rebrand itself as Meta to divert attention from its troubles. At the time there was nothing ‘Meta’ about Meta, as reflected by Zuckerberg’s 90 minute rant that made it clear he didn’t even know what Meta meant and turned him and the company into a laughing stock they still haven’t quite recovered from.

Lesson Learned – Choose a great name at the start, build a solid reputation for that name and then don’t change it. Really, this is so basic I can’t believe I’m having to write this.

Failure to Embrace the Future – Blockbuster got started when VHS rentals were fairly new. They expanded rapidly and converted to DVD’s when those arrived and added games, too. At their height they had 6500 stores. But when they were offered the chance to purchase Netflix, they said no thanks. “Streaming? That will never catch on.” Today Netflix is a giant and Blockbuster has one store left.

Blackberries were ubiquitous at one time. They were at the top of the mobile market and no one could touch them, so why bother to innovate? Then these things called iPhones appeared, and now blackberries are once again nothing more than a grocery item.

Lesson learned – The only thing constant is change, so you may as well embrace it wholeheartedly.

Really Poor Judgment – Sears dominated the mail order industry for over a century with their catalogs. Then in 1993, Sears decided that mail order was on the decline and they discontinued their catalog. The following year a nobody named Jeff Bezos founded a little enterprise called Amazon.

Lesson learned – Careful which way you pivot. Sears pivoted from a combination of retail and mail order to just retail. If they had instead pivoted their mail order division into online sales, they could have easily been the ‘Amazon’ of the current era. Think carefully before pivoting or closing on of your sales avenues.

Beware of Acronyms – When Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle release her first album, her management company came up with the promotional Twitter hashtag, #susanalbumparty. It trended number one but not because of the actual album.

In Canada, when the Conservative Party merged with the Reform Party, they called themselves the Canadian Reform Alliance Party. It took comedians seconds to point out the obvious acronym, while it took the C.R.A.P. 48hours to change it.

When the previous American President announced his running mate, their political party released a slogan with the initials T.P., a common American acronym for toilet paper. That, too, was changed in 48 hours.

Lesson learned – If your product name, business name or any name is two words or more, take a close look at the acronym you’re creating. And never, ever, name your daughter Alicia Susan if your last name is Smith.

Beware the Osborne Effect – in 1981 Osborne Computer Corporation released its first personal computer. Sales were good until 1983 when the company founder announced that the next generation of the computer would be even better. Sales came to a screeching halt as customers awaited the upgraded version. But because sales tanked, there was no money to build the next generation and the company declared bankruptcy.

In the early 1990’s, TV sets’ sales were depressed by talk of the imminent releaser of HDTV, which did not actually become widespread for another decade.

Lesson learned – if you’re creating a digital product, you might announce that all current customers will receive the upgraded version when it comes available for free or for just a tiny fraction of the retail price.

Know Your Hashtags – #WhyIStayed became a trending hashtag in November 2014 in defense of domestic abuse victims in an effort to change the tone of the conversation on why people stay with their abusers. Too bad DiGiorno Pizza didn’t bother to find out the meaning of the hashtag before posting, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza. Because they sounded tone deaf, clueless and heartless, DiGiorno Pizza endured days of wrath from social media and 9 years later people still talk about their gaff.

Lesson Learned – If you didn’t originate the hashtag, be super sure you know what it means before you use it.

If It’s Working, Don’t Break It – JC Penney was doing great by offering coupons, sales and never-ending discounts to get people in their stores. In fact, they were doing so well, they decided to stop all sales and sell everything at a “fair and square” price. The problem was, people need a deadline to beat and a discount to incentivize them to make the trip to the store. Sales plummeted by a third and JCP lost millions of dollars.

Lesson Learned – Seriously, if something in your business is working but you want to change it anyway, then look in the mirror, slap yourself upside the head and go take a cold shower instead


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