Benefit from my screw-ups: Part 1

April 28, 2017

screw-upsI know better.

And yet, in starting my new business, A Healing Spirit, which you can find HERE, I screwed up. More than once.  I can’t erase those mistakes. But I can learn from them and so you can you.

So that others don’t make the same mistakes I did, I’ve decided to share some of my screw-ups, as well as what I’d do differently. This is just the first of several posts that I’ll do about this, because I learned the hard way. You don’t have to–you can learn from what I did wrong.

Start early enough & be disciplined

My goal was to spend some of my six weeks in Santa Fe last fall writing my website. But I didn’t. I mostly just had fun.  And boy, did I pay for that later when I had to really hump to get things done.  So start early enough and be more disciplined than I was about starting the work. Because one way or another, you’ll have to buckle down and get it off the ground.

Build a minimum of 30-days delay into your schedule

I know it sounds like a lot. But trust me, Murphy’s Law is real. My business launched almost a month late. There were design issues, printing issues and Amazon issues. Boy, were there Amazon issues.  That 30 days is minimum, as far as I’m concerned.  Remember, too, that if you’re a small business, you are almost always going to be a lower priority to vendors than their big cash cows. So you may not have any control over how quickly they get to your order. That’s reality and there’s not much you can do about it.

Deadlines that whoosh by

Having been trained in journalism and worked in corporate America, I respect deadlines. I know how to meet them. I have always met them. However:

I have yet to meet a creative consultant that can meet a deadline. In fact, most one-person shops I’ve used that are run by people who have never worked in a big organization do not understand how important deadlines are and what they mean to customer service. I can tell you straight out that deadlines were my biggest problem because as far as one of my creative consultants were concerned, they were “guidelines.” It was completely frustrating. So I began setting fake deadlines. She missed those, too.

Yes, I laid out my expectations and the deadlines. And yes, she paid no attention to them.

I’ve decided that the next time I use a new consultant I’m building financial penalties for missing deadlines into the contract. It’s drastic, but it’s the only way I can think of to hold them accountable.

Establish a regular schedule of communications

These same consultants weren’t big on communication, so I ended up scheduling every two day phone calls. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that until almost the end of the project. And even so I’d get texts that said “Can we meet at 7pm instead of 4pm?” because yes, deadlines weren’t being met.

Look for Part 2 and probably Part 3 on this topic in the future, because I’d do a lot differently next time.  It all worked out in the end– my products turned out exactly as I’d envisioned–gorgeous! And my website shop, A Healing Spirit, has exactly the look and feel I want and even better, it is up and running HERE. But it was a painful process and I’d like to spare you some of that pain. Of course, you’ll see some changes this summer and I”ll be telling you about them in my next installment of “Don’t do this, kids!” Because even though you might not notice, some things need to be done. Still.

Got questions or comments? Share below!

74 comments on “Benefit from my screw-ups: Part 1
  1. Good advice, Carol, and timely as I’m slogging along trying to forge my way in the self-employed world. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Ruth says:

    The most critical is establishing regular communication.Small businesses need to be heard (consistently) or they will not be seen as a priority. Just like life — show up, be loud, be consistent. Love the sound advice, Carol.

  3. Robin says:

    This is great advice Carol. Thanks for sharing and good luck in your new venture! I’ll be checking out your links!

  4. Ah yes, deadlines! I’m guilty of missing a few here or there, so I’ve been more lenient when someone misses one of mine. But I get it, and think financial consequences for not meeting them is a brilliant idea!

  5. Tammy says:

    Great reading. I know I let deadlines come and go. My saving grace is to write everything down and use and online calendar.

  6. Sorry you had such difficulties. I’m not planning to start a business, but your advice could be applied to so many endeavors . . . especially regarding Murphy’s Law and the necessity for building in a time-cushion.

  7. Lee Gaitan says:

    Great advice for just about any off-the-ground endeavor. The labor pains were real, but, let me tell you, your site and products are gorgeous and so needed.

  8. tara pittman says:

    I like that you built a delay into this. That is such a great idea.

  9. Great advice. The 30 day delay is definitely not something I would have thought of. It’s hard to buckle down sometimes, but worth it in the end.

  10. That is great advice. Building a buffer into your schedule keeps you from looking like a fool with your work or missing important family events.

  11. Kristina says:

    Keeping a schedule is great! We are only human and mistakes are bound to happen but if we learn from them that’s even better!

  12. Missing deadlines is a huge pet peeve of mine. I’ve never worked in corporate, but I still know that when someone tells me they need something that I should have it for them at the specified time.

  13. Joely Smith says:

    Good advice! We learn so much from our mistakes and even better if we can learn from others and get ahead of making them ourselves! It is very kind of you to share some of yours.

  14. Bill Sweeney says:

    Great advice here. I always try to add padding to my schedule for any unforeseen circumstances.

  15. Liz Mays says:

    Ah yikes! Nothing ever seems to work exactly how we plan it. I guess leaving in some extra time for unexpected hiccups is a good idea.

  16. Vera Sweeney says:

    I LOVE this post! I’m generally very good with deadlines, but I have worked with people who viewed them as more of a suggestion. It drove me nuts. NUTS!

  17. Linda Hobden says:

    Great advice Carol …I’m a stickler for deadlines too.. frustrating when other people don’t have the same sense of urgency! Glad all turned out ok in the end though ????

  18. Claudia Krusch says:

    It is a great idea to add a month to your timeline. You never know what is going to pop up on you. It is always better to be prepared.

  19. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    This is such great advice. Murphy’s Law is definitely a real thing.

  20. These are great reminders to guide us. I do make it a point to be on time as much as humanly possible. Murphy’s law does apply so leaving extra time makes sense.

  21. Austin says:

    Great advice. Good luck with the business. I’m looking forward to learning more. It’s great that you’re willing to help us learn from your missteps…

  22. It’s always good to read what others have learned – and it’s good of you to share your lessons so the rest of us can be spared a little of the pain you went through – you did have a really rough run didn’t you? Glad it’s all water under the bridge now – and smooth sailing ahead.

  23. Pam says:

    Murphys Law is so real, especially when you’re running your own business! You’re the only one to deal with things when they do go wrong.

  24. I love shared wisdom! Thanks for the info. I’d love to learn more about the amazon issues. I have been a little leery of jumping in on this game.

  25. Theresa says:

    There are always going to be hiccups in the business world, but I’m glad you are sharing your wisdom here. I love the building in a buffer. That’s something that I had to learn the hard way as well.

  26. Tina Gleisner says:

    Love your key message, you might not be able to erase your mistakes but you can learn from them … perfect for end of the week.

  27. jessi says:

    This is wonderful advice. I have always been a terrible procrastinator, but working in the legal field really helped me appreciate meeting my deadlines. I know if I missed a court document date then we were in big trouble!

  28. Elizabeth O. says:

    Starting a business is never easy and it’s not always going to be as smooth as you want it to be. This is really good, it’s going to help a lot of people who are just starting out. Discipline is really important especially if you’re trying to meet deadlines.

  29. kelly reci says:

    i love reading your articles, they are all nice and true!

  30. Ronnie says:

    Great advice! Organization and scheduling is so vital and yet so difficult when starting a business. Things start rushing by quickly and it’s easy to lose control without set-up systems.

  31. Great advice, Carol! It’s a shame that your consultants put you through such ordeal, but I’m glad your business is now in full swing. 🙂

  32. Neha Saini says:

    This is true that people learn from their mistakes thanks for sharing what you have faced.

  33. roxy says:

    I too have set short-term goals and completely blown the deadlines. It’s aggravating! I have found that setting reminders for myself on my phone goes a long way towards encouraging me to stick to project timelines, big or small.

  34. I agree with all of these especially building up a reserve of posts and content before going live. I didn’t know I was going to make my blog a business when I started it, just did it on A whim and I still struggle with publishing consistent content.

  35. Kim Croisant says:

    Deadlines can sure get the best of you.We all’s just part of nature. Carry on as usual and you’ll be fine!!

  36. Maureen says:

    I think we all learn from our mistakes or as you call them, screw ups, it’s important to figure out what the problem is then focus on a way to solve it. I love this post, full of useful tips to help others learn from what you have learned too!

  37. Lisa Favre says:

    Regular communication is really tough to get on point. You bring up some really important challenges that many of us can relate to. I am still waiting on a meeting that was supposed to happen several weeks ago, so I really understand!

  38. karen says:

    That Murphys Law is crayyyyyzee. And can mess up all best laid plans, right? Smart ideas shared based on your own experiences!

  39. Victoria says:

    great advice, I especially love the 30 day delay

  40. Rosey says:

    I understand it’s a never ending thing to get your business just right. That’s okay though it is part of the fun (most of the time). 😉 It’s nice to share what you’ve learned with others!

  41. I really like the idea of building in some delay time into one’s schedule. It is all-too-easy to get off track and focus on some other things of interest.

  42. I am a big believer in setting hard and soft deadlines. Soft deadlines are more like goals with a little extra cushion.
    It sounds like you learned a lot in this experience. Thanks for sharing.

  43. This is some seriously good advice.Being disciplined is more important then people think.

  44. Crystal says:

    Staying in contact seems to help my screw-ups less severe. If I stay connected, I make less. But communicating where I’m at helps too.

  45. sara says:

    I love this post. You have learned a lot from each trial and tribulation. No one is perfect, and I really think people expect themselves to be perfect.

  46. Lara says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Some great ideas to consider when launching a business to better expect the unexpected!

  47. Michelle Waller says:

    Your post is really helpful for me. I am starting a business with a team of girls and these will really help me succeed.

  48. uprunforlife says:

    Building a business or managing a project is not an easy feat. I am a horrible procrastinator at times so deadlines sneak up on me. It is almost as if I enjoy the extra pressure. Plus, I like flying by the seat of my pants so that I can easily change things as needed. It takes discipline to get it all done when you don’t have a boss telling you what needs to be done.

  49. Great tips for someone who is just starting a business. I treat my blog as my business too and sure, there were a lot of mistakes. But I just have to learn from them.

  50. Jeanine says:

    This is some really great advice. I often give the 30 day, and even up to 6 week rule. I try not to over load myself but sometimes it gets really crazy, the rule works when new things come in.

  51. Regular communication and building in room for time delays is a big part of being self-employed. Things won’t always happen when you want them to so building in flexibility is key.

  52. wendy says:

    This is excellent advice! Congratulations on your business adventure! Regular communication is extremely important and any type of relationships.Thank you.

  53. Karina says:

    Congratulations on launching your products… and I’m so glad you are pleased with how everything turned out. In the end, that’s truly all that matters. Thank you for sharing about the valuable lessons you learned along the way! I do agree that it’s great to have deadlines written into contracts because what is important to you gets completed in a timely manner… and it’s clear as day whats of importance through the terms of the contract.

  54. Good advice…. I love learning from the mistakes of others so that I don’t have to make those same mistakes myself…. I will make enough others, so thanks for saving me some time/stress. 🙂

  55. Tasha says:

    This is great advise! I have been wanting to start my own business but have been very nervous.

  56. Thanks for sharing this sage advice Carol and i’m sure many will be saved a lot or problems because of your generosity in sharing. On the positive side you are up and running YAY!!! Congratulations and good luck with the business. Thanks also for sharing and linking up with us at #overthemoon. I’m off to check out your new site.

  57. Sauumye Chauhan says:

    This is excellent advice. Communication is the key to everything. Also planning & scheduling is a great way to work

  58. Our Family World says:

    Thank you for sharing with us you experience. I know it is a daunting experience to set up a business and to get the word out. I think the best way is always to keep the lines of communication open. That would also mean no sugar coating. If deadlines can’t be met, say so.

  59. Brianne says:

    These are such excellent tips! I struggle big time with deadlines!

  60. Amanda Love says:

    The struggle is real, as the young people would say it these days. It’s really never easy to build a business from the ground up and you’d have to constantly learn and adjust.

  61. Alayna says:

    Creating that 30 day buffer zone is definitely important, especially if you’re working on a project outside of your regular job and responsibilities. Life can get in the way, and having a realistic timeline stops you from getting discouraged.

  62. Gabriel says:

    I always struggle with deadlines myself, even though I know how frustrating it is when my deadlines are missed. One of my greatest areas that I need to improve in.

  63. Lynndee says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and thanks for the advice as well. Will keep those in mind.

  64. Thank you for sharing with us these lessons you’ve learned! I’m hoping to start my own small business in the near future and reading what others have done is so helpful!

  65. Having a plan and being assertive is important when beginning a new adventure like this.

  66. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I am sharing this post with a good friend. She is a Grief Counselor and has 3 books published already. She’s been thinking of starting a product line like yours but doesn’t know how to start. This post will be very helpful for her. Thank you for sharing.

  67. Sounds advice here. Thanks for sharing,


  68. reesa says:

    I love the idea of building 30 days leeway into your schedule. Never thought to do that!!! This way you are always essentially on time and never late!

  69. natalie z says:

    These are great tips for people like me! I tend to be really hard on myself and not as flexible as I would like.

  70. It is definitely good to learn from someone else’s mistakes. I am fairly new at blogging and I am definitely learning the importance of communication and meeting deadlines.

  71. lydia says:

    I loved this post! Not gonna lie, I learn so much from others mistakes (oops). These were great tips for me!

  72. Eloise says:

    You’re right! it takes continuing/regular communication to keep ‘anything’ successful. It also takes self discipline (that’s a HUGE importance when running any business). Thanks for sharing this story for others to learn from : )
    good luck on your endeavors!

  73. I’ve been so overwhelmed with deadlines recently, I am trying to catch up with work! Definitely, need to put a schedule together.

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Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


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