Business People making mistakes rightEverybody makes mistakes, so why not take advantage of them? If your company culture does not give permission to make mistakes, your staff will hide them.

They’ll want to ‘fix’ it fast and hope you never find out. They may be the only ones who know how to fix it, and they, or someone else, are likely to make the same mistake again. Here are some tips on how to turn mistakes into assets.

1) Give your staff permission to make mistakes – as long as they follow up in the right ways. All hidden mistakes hurt your bottom line and customer service because you don’t improve.

2) Don’t blame or complain about the other company when they make a mistake. Do all you can do on your end to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.

3) Make a big deal about discovering a glitch or a loophole, oversight or misread. Share with your staff your enthusiasm of discovery and the rewards it will bring to your company’s efficiency.

4) Have the staffer who made or discovered the mistake describe how it happened. Then discuss what is needed to prevent its reoccurrence. Once they realize you think its better to analyze than hide, they’ll view mistakes more positively.

5) Acknowledge the person who discovered the mistake. Make him a company hero for improving the business and customer service. This sends a reinforcing message of permission to the rest of your staff to do the same.

6) Identify all the documents that need to be amended to prevent mistakes in the future (contract clauses, policies, procedures, labels, job descriptions, checklists, signage, or sign off sheets). Then immediately make the required revisions.

7) Require everyone involved to sign off on the new policies, procedures and other documents. Include these as part of all future training. If the mistake involved a customer or vendor, tell them exactly how you have implemented changes to prevent a reoccurrence. They will see your company as more of a partner rather than an adversary.

Evolution and improvement are the natural rewards of learning from our mistakes. We are all in a constant state of improvement. We can anticipate and avoid many mistakes through education and experience. So, when they do occur, let’s make mistakes right. With an insightful attitude, your company’s next mistake can improve your business!


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Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders