What mistakes have you made in starting your business?

Question: What mistakes have you made in starting your business?

Blake Mycoskie: I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes.

I’m very optimistic, and I think most entrepreneurs are. So if I come up with an idea of, like, oh, this would be a great place for us to sell TOMS [shoes] or great opportunity for us to really revolutionize this concept in the business, I tend to not see why it won’t work. I only see why it will work. And that does get in the way sometimes as a businessperson.

A perfect example is, when we started selling TOMS [shoes], we sold them in these really cool canvas bags. Everyone thought they were beautiful. They were simplistic. They were good for the environment, because we didn’t have the cardboard and the packaging. And everyone loved them. And when we first started selling TOMS, we were only selling in little boutiques. So, fine, they could manage 20, 50 canvas bags of TOMS very easily in a basket by the checkout.

Then we started selling in Nordstrom. And we thought, oh, this is great, we’re selling in Nordstrom, we’ll continue with the canvas bags. But Nordstrom is built upon very specific methods and protocol. And they have stockrooms. And in their stockrooms, they stack these boxes and they are very organized. And it allows their employees to go in and out and sell lots of shoes in a hour period of time. Well, what happened with the bags is even though everyone loved it, including Nordstrom, we didn’t really listen to the advice of the stockroom people who said we really should use boxes because this is going to be a tangled mess with these bags and these strings.

Sure enough, we launched Nordstrom to great excitement in the consumer side and great excitement on the salespeople. But two weeks after we’re there, all our bags were a big pile of mess in the stockroom. And they couldn’t sell any shoes because they didn’t want to waste half an hour going and untangling the shoes when they could’ve gotten commissions on three other pairs of Cole Haans.

So our business really took a hit this last year, and we had to transform everything from bags to boxes, which was a big, big change for us. And it cost us a lot of money and a lot of time. But now we are in boxes, and we’re seeing great sell-through in Nordstrom again. So it’s a perfect example.

 

Recorded on: April 28, 2008

 

 

 

Most entrepreneurs are optimistic, says Mycoskie.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

Videos
  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less