Domain Spotlight:

The Mistake Was Not the Error, the Mistake Was in the Handling

It’s a part of every day business life , mistakes happen.  If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.  Small daily mistakes could be as simple as you’re not getting enough sleep.  But it also could mean not fully prepared or have enough information to make certain decisions.

I am constantly telling my employees I am not mad because a mistake was made, I am mad because it was ignored or treated as a minor issue.  It is a minor issue as long as the customer feels that all is taken care of and they are in good hands or the results of the mistake are put back on the correct path.  Ignoring things has a 50/50 chance of going away or becoming a major problem.  When it comes to customers it is very simple.  All mistakes are admitted and we do whatever it takes to keep them happy.  Nine times out of ten a simple “I’m sorry, here’s what we’re going to do to make up for it” phone call or in person statement makes everything good again.  There are also those customers that nothing is good enough and regardless of the refunds and apologies, they are not coming back.  Not much you can do about that other than make sure that mistake doesn’t happen again.  If a mistake happens and it involves paperwork, financial, or tracking issues you simply have to stop and fix it.

Once everything is fixed we can start to look at causes of the error.  Many managers HAVE to have a cause of a problem.  Fingers need to pointed, people need to be called out.  I’ve always hated this method. The only time I feel it works is if the person that made the error thinks they are bulletproof.  That they never make mistakes and are first to try and blame someone else.  Reality strikes when a group meeting opens up with “We need to have a new procedure to help keep people from making the same error Employee X made”

At the nursery, most of the problems made are simply employees going through the motions because of a day that has become routine.  They forget to think outside of their normal daily thought process and miss something.  They no longer put any detail into their actions and simply do it.  It happens to all of us.  One of the big dangers of training is telling employees what to do and forget to tell them why.  The only way for them to adjust or improve their actions is to understand the underlying reasons of the actions and reactions they take each day.  Then and only then can they fix problems by themselves or even more importantly, adjust to individual problems so errors aren’t made.

One of the biggest mistakes I see domainers make is losing touch with how much they are actually going to accomplish in a time period.  Things move much slower than they expect and in some cases never happen.  The domains that were supposed to be built out never get built out.  They spend thousands on domains that just sit there.  Most domain investors seem to have A.D.D, jumping from one project to another without ever finishing anything.   Domainers pivot more times than the center for the Chinese National Basketball team.  Where I am going with this is simply, the only thing worse than making a mistake is changing your direction so many times you don’t create a path long enough to know if you should follow it.   It’s the old, “gotta give it some time”.  I’ve been reading and following domain related projects for years and 99% of them seem to fade away.  Never given the time to see if it can build.  Never putting in the time or money to give it a chance.  Many of the domain investors aren’t great business people and it comes across. (yes, some are VERY good business people)

Domainers are just like traders.  Their attention span is short.  It’s the only world where 1000% return in three weeks isn’t good enough.  Sites are built and left to dust.  Small businesses are created, advertised, and dropped 6 months after less than stellar results.  And they expected it to succeed without even checking to see if anybody really wanted the service or built for a niche of users under 1000 people.  Big mistake right off the bat, simply because they ignored everything right in front of them.  And how do they handle the lack of success?  Merely, drop it and move on to something else.  “That’s how start ups do it” is what I hear.  They merely keep trying until one catches on.

The success stories that we read on the blogs are motivating and driving.  One billions dollars here, a few million there.  It all seems so simple.  The stories of the people that threw away tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars are much more common but not as willingly shared. We domain investors have a much better chance of making millions than the average person on the street because we are selling to a crowd of billions. We are in the early part of an incredible change in the way people communicate.  It moves faster than land based businesses.  But it also means quicker failures, more failures, and easy distraction.   If you check real hard behind the great stories and I can guarantee that on the way to their success they did three things.  Adjusted their path and product to adapt to user needs. Two, made a ton of mistakes along the way. Three, gave it time to mature.

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5 Replies to “The Mistake Was Not the Error, the Mistake Was in the Handling”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this very subject lately and this post really sums it up well. Sometimes it’s good to step back asses then make a plan with a time frame and stick to it come what may.

    So easy to lose focus and so difficult to stay disciplined.

    Great post Shane.

  2. This post covers so much more than the headline suggests; fortunately, the first lines of the blog hooked me. 🙂

    The fact is that it’s very easy to become distracted, to lose sight of the long-term goal, if it is even defined. So many opportunities present themselves, it’s difficult to resist the temptation. The fact is, most of those opportunities fail precisely because they are not given the time to bear fruit. It takes a long time for success to mature from toil, even online.

    The problem is the splash headlines or bloated egos that we see blow through the domain industry. Surviving for a three or four years as a domain investor or domain media sensation does not make one a good businessman. When cooking up schemes for success, one is liable to burn the roast, as it were.

    I’ve already taken the time in 2012 to refocus my efforts on MY plans and missions, ignoring what other domain investors or alleged business people have to say about it. I know what I’m doing, and I’m learning new ways of doing it. I also know it will take more YEARS of work to reap big rewards. Too long, you say?

    Well, let’s take a look at traditional real estate, as opposed to latter-day real estate which booms in two or three years and then goes bust years longer. Traditionally, one could expect a five to seven year investment and ROI cycle. I know this because my first and most powerful mentor was a real estate broker and developer. He built half of Las Vegas’ west side when it was still a dust bowl with a population of only 75,000. Charleston Heights is hardly on the edge of town today, but he didn’t have homes that sold into vacancy and foreclosure. They build for demand, not speculation.

    I particularly love the comment about the 100% return not being satisfactory to most. But, that’s the investor mindset today. Once, 7% or 8% returns per year was quite respectable. Now people think that’s chump change. Since when??? Just because some idiot got lucky and turned 35% for a year or even two, does not mean they have financial stamina.

    In 2009, I sat next to a gentleman in the lounge at the Santa Clara Marriott, and we discussed a domain I was developing. I had hand-registered the .com and several variations, to protect the brand, because I truly believed the idea had legs. I had done media in that specific niche, and the information I had to present (we call it content these days) was highly sought (not “sought after”, for you alleged writers).

    This gentleman and I discussed the effort that was being put into developing the domain and the website on it; after about four months of work, I had taken a non-existent website and garnered a monthly visit tally of about 1,000 visitors. It’s not a superb number, but it’s not bad. I had done NO advertising at all.

    I was told, by a domainer, at the 2009 Silicon Valley TRAFFIC show, that I could probably better direct my resources for a better surge, better return and much less work. I listened to this well-meaning person. I followed my heart.

    The site still does not make a profit. It has paid for itself more frequently than not, but it is the long-term goal I’m seeking. I’m investing my time, not just my money. Today we have anywhere from 250 to 500 visits per day, depending upon holidays, the public’s travel plans, etc.

    There are other things I’ve tried that have fallen flat, but those are primarily ideas that were well conceived and poorly planned and executed. Good, solid success takes time. Flash-in-the-pan success is usually luck. Long-term success requires so much more than just great ideas. I have great ideas all the time. The success that will come from those ideas will be determined by my willingness to commit, my ability to stay focused, and my desire to accept mistakes are, after all, a means to an end.

    BTW: I am not sorry at all that I wrote such a long reply to your post, Shane. I just hope you find it an appropriate complimentary piece. 😉

  3. Hi Danny,

    I’ve just read through your “comment” and I must say you make some very solid points. I especially liked
    ” Long term success requires more than just great ideas. I have great ideas all the time. The success that comes from those ideas will be determined by my willingness to commit, my ability to stay focused and my desire to accept mistakes are,after all, a means to an end.”

    Words to live by.

    What’s your website called? Would love to check it out.


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