Making Mistakes Can Make Money

Return to main page


Digital Library > Building and Inspiring an Organization > Success factors"Making Mistakes Can Make Money"

There are two kinds of mistakes: those you make yourself and those that just happen. But mistakes can metamorphose into successes — it's all in what you make of them.

$975 MM Down — But Not Out

No one knows that better than Donald Trump, who took a $975 million bath during the real-estate depression of the early '90s. Trump admits he blew it; he focused too much on self-promotion and not enough on business. But Trump refused to declare bankruptcy.

Instead, he regrouped. He renegotiated millions in loans to survive the recession. Then he executed a well-conceived expansion: He merged with the Taj Mahal casino and acquired the Trump Marina. A successful ad campaign boosted return visits and attracted newcomers.

In two years, Trump's new casino empire grew from net revenues of $195 million in 1995 to a staggering $1.4 billion in 1997.

Sticking With a Stickie

Art Fry was annoyed. "I needed a bookmark that would stay put, yet could be removed without damaging my hymnal," Fry says. As a 3M researcher, he planned to invent a solution for this sticky problem.

Meanwhile, Fry's colleague, Spencer Silver, was developing a tacky adhesive. In the process he inadvertently created an "unglue" that didn't work well.

Fry learned of Silver's flubber-like "mistake" and promptly envisioned the perfect bookmark. Fry prototyped the product and convinced 3M to test-market it. Post-it Notes were born.

Sent to secretaries, they were an instant hit. Today Post-it Notes are one of the five top-selling office products in the United States, and Dr. Silver's "flubber" is now the basis for more than 200 products.

Writer: LeAnn Zotta.

Related Articles

Mentoring: Lessons Taught, Lessons Learned

Doing a S.W.O.T. Analysis for Your Company

Self-Assessment Tools

Building an Enduring Business

High-Flying Culture



Building and Inspiring an Organization

Articles in our Entrepreneur’s Resource Center appeared in print and online newsletters published previously by the foundation. More than 1,000 articles can be found in the categories below, addressing timeless challenges faced by entrepreneurs of all types.