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My Biggest Mistake: Didn't have a backup plan

March 29, 2011|By Sharon Bernstein, Los Angeles Times

Consultants, self-help gurus and moms agree: Mistakes are how we learn. Small-business owners tell us their biggest error. Here is this week's:

Business owner: Suzanne Park, 35, Kirkland, Wash.

Company: Plaid Doctrine

The mistake: Had no backup plan when manufacturing problems arose.

Background: I left a job at Microsoft Corp. to start a new business making eco-friendly bags and accessories. But starting from scratch without the background and contacts that other people have –- it was literally starting from nothing.

What I did: We were planning to launch in time for the holidays, but the manufacturer I hired prioritizes bigger companies over smaller companies, and we got unslotted from the production run. I missed the entire holiday season because of this situation. I had to start my business in the spring instead, with a new baby in tow.

What I learned: Make sure you have a contingency plan in place.

Have you made a mistake from which other small-business owners can learn? Please tell us about it at

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