3 Entrepreneurs on Their First Big Mistake

Entrepreneurs look back on the blooper they thought would kill their company.
3 Entrepreneurs on Their First Big Mistake
Image credit: Shutterstock

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Entrepreneur Staff
Deputy Editor
2 min read

Entrepreneurs look back on the blooper they thought would kill their company.

Sandy Chilewich

Founder and creative director, Chilewich

“Back in 2000, when I was just starting, I emailed a buyer at Bloomingdale’s, pitching my place mats. And I don’t know if placemats just wasn’t in my computer’s dictionary, but each time I typed that, it changed to placentas. I didn’t notice and sent it. So I wrote this buyer a lengthy email about how great my placentas were, and how many colors my placentas came in, and how durable my placentas are. I sounded like a madwoman. I never heard back from that buyer, but Bloomingdale’s is now one of our biggest customers.”


Jason Horvath

Cofounder, Uhuru Design

“After 10 years of growing slowly and deliberately, in 2013 we got a $500,000 investment in growth capital and did some marketing, and the following year we sold $10 million. Then we lost focus. We decided to launch an interior design department as well as a jewelry line -- a total vanity project -- and hired more than 50 additional employees. Sure, we had sold $10 million, but then we spent $10 million, and we entered the next year with very little cash. Growth flatlined -- we lost $1.5 million in six months. We had to pull back, lay off some great employees and shut down projects. But now we know what we’re good at and how to manage growth.”


Nathan Bond

Cofounder and CEO, Rifle Paper Co.

“My wife, Anna, and I launched our stationery company in 2009, just in time for the holidays. We had no background in this space and had never worked with a printer. We thought we could send them a file and the product would arrive in perfect shape. But what came back was totally unusable. Even after multiple production attempts, our cards came back with ink smears all over them. We had to make it work, though, so we erased the errors by hand for hours -- sitting in a room, in a cloud of eraser shavings! We learned a lot, including how naïve we were.”

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources
Discover the franchise that’s right for you by answering some quick questions about
  • Which industry you’re interested in
  • Why you want to buy a franchise
  • What your financial needs are
  • Where you’re located
  • And more
Make sure you’re covered for physical injuries or property damage at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business

Latest on Entrepreneur