My Big Fat $10,000 FCUK Up!

- July 30, 2012 3 MIN READ


I was kind of hesitant to write about this to be perfectly honest with you all. But in the end after having a talk with my team, we realised that part of why we started Shoe String was to help educate those people who are just starting out on their own business venture as well as create content and commentary that people relate to so they don’t feel so isolated.

So, here it is. I screwed up in my business about 2 weeks ago, and I am not talking about a small little screw up, I am talking about a $10,000 screw up, and for a startup – that’s not a good thing. What could $10,000 right now do for your business? – Lot’s right? – Same here. Needless to say, when we thought we were just about to burst out of the gates, had everything sailing smoothly and were just about to start doing some really cool things from a marketing perspective – Boom. Universe says No.

The back story at a high level was, we were organising an event, that event required a $10,500 deposit and then we had to cancel that event, and due to me presuming there was a 30 day cancellation policy instead of a 60 day cancellation policy and me cancelling the event just within that 60 day period, no refund – oh shit.

Now those type of things have happened to me back in the days when I was an employee organising something, and yes it’s stressful and you apologise to your manager and move on. But when it’s YOUR money, it’s a different story – moving on is necessary of course, but you need to do it a little more strategically.

In my business I like to operate on a higher GP – if I am below 50-60 points, I am not happy, there is less money to reward my team with, there is less money to reinvest to grow the business and there is less cash in the reserve. It also happens to be on the same week this happened that Shoe String Media Group begun the process to acquire a new magazine and website in the travel industry, we decided on paying cash for that and so then when hit with another lazy $10,000 on top – I obviously had a HOLY CRAP moment.

One of the things I love about my brain is that in crisis moments it has a great ability to put a “mental jigsaw” together of the issues and solutions to solve them. Some quick changes needed to be made and so in order to maintain GP, recoup the 10K mistake, afford to keep the business running and keep myself out of an institution we did the following.

Cut Costs

We were renting a space in the city for our office, it was nice, it had nice people – but since there are only two of us full time based in Sydney and the rest of our team contract, was it a necessary cost at this point? No. So we have moved to a Home office situation at my place, I have the room, the utilities and it’s closer for both team members for travel. Saving!

Sell More – Lot’s More!

We have slightly shifted resources to have more emphasis on selling. Our new publication needs to be in the black in a minimum of three weeks, time to hit the phones, and close them quick. Time to sell more advertising for our clients, that’s makes them happy and bills us more. Sell Sell Sell.

A Tighter Schedule

Coffees are great, they give me content for the site, they don’t however make me a great deal of money in the short term. I like them, networking is important, but it needs to be limited to achieve the big goals I have for this company. Block out time for the meetings, schedule everything.

Mistakes happen, Stupid Mistakes Happen – When you make them yourself, you just have to suck it up, accept responsibility and move on and fix them. Not only is that logical, but it is also important for the culture you creating for your employees, they will happen, it’s inevitable, that’s business. But I think the lesson you learn from them, will end up being worth more than the money you lose.

And always read the terms and conditions.