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What's the WORST business decision you've made?


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Ok. Ladies -

Fess up-I'll start.

I had a friend that asked if I could help her out a bit of a problem. She was a friend so I said "of course" Mistake #1.

She had agreed to make two shirt quilts (not all tees but bowling & club shirts) and a pillow for some of her family and she just did not have time to complete them.  Could I do one and the pillow and of course she would pay me! We did not discuss price at the time as she was a friend. Mistake #2.

She had asked me not to label them as she wanted to do that. I thought she wanted wanted to put something poetic on the label.Mistake #3.

Of course I did not not get anything in writting -My BIGGEST mistake #4.

Once I began I called her let her know that I felt I needed to buy some fabric for the shirt quilt she told me just use MY scraps-She thought anything I do would be beautiful! Then the next sentence she was asking me to save the scraps of the scraps I use so she could put them in the quilt she was doing!  So they could match?? What the heck?!!?!?Can you believe that? I said no she could bring me her scraps. (I think I was finally catching on)

When it was all done and delivered she gave me miniscule check and told me that this was our secret-she did not want anyone to know she did not have time to fulfill her agreement with her family-What she actually said was that she wanted credit for my beautiful work!!

The nerve of people!! I have become a better business woman with that under my belt and I will NEVER allow myself to be taken advantage of again!

I was at the mall the other day and her little side business was gone- (Holiday kiosk) & it still bothers me what she did -What I allowed her do-but the other thing is she  NEVER even gave me a discount when I purchased 2 things at her little store!!

LIVE & LEARN!!!!!  I have chalked it up to life experience and hope I learned from it. After all I really have no one to blame but myself!!

Now what's your biggest mistake/regret?

 

 

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Not technically a business decision, but it fits. My late MIL was in her 80's when she took up quilting. I was to teach her. She lived 300 miles away at the time so that was not going to be easy. I began with her making tie quilts using my FIL ties after he had passed away. I cut large squares of foundation fabric and had her straight line sew the ties on in a "crazy quilt" fashion. Then she hand embroidered on the seams. She actually did quite well and made several of them for her kids. She then branched out to making "scrap quilts" from fabric she had around her house. One box of squares came from a friend who had worked in a hat factory in the 60's and had given her these scraps and she just happened to remember she had them in the garage. Well, ok...they were 60's colors, but what the heck. She made several quilts out of those and of course always brought them to me to take to my quilter (I told her my machine didn't work which is another story). My quilter at the time was very reasonable. She charged half the price that it would have cost MIL in southern CA to get them quilted. This worked well for a while then MIL started becoming a little senile. She got one of her quilts back and had a hissy fit because she said the quilter took four blocks out of the center of her quilt and replaced them with other fabric and she wasn't having it. Now, ask yourself why anyone would take old, fairly ugly, at least 50 year old fabric blocks out of a center of the quilt and then replace it with the same fabric. The same with one of the tie quilts. MIL swore her quilt was bigger so the quilter must have taken blocks off the side and top and kept them to make her quilts. I tried to tell her I gave that quilt to the quilter and it was a twin size (an odd twin size...like three blocks wide by six long or something) and we both discussed that it was smaller than her other tie quilts, but figured she intended for it to be a twin size. She often made odd sized twin size quilts. It got to a point where I refused to be the middle man anymore. I told her she would have to bring her quilts and talk with the quilter herself or have them done down south.

Her pricing was a whole other story. She charged her sister $600 for one of her quilts. These were very basic quilts made by an amateur, for lack of a better word, using old fabric scraps and other cheap fabrics often blending polyester knit with cotton and her piecing abilities were marginal at best. She wondered why her quilts didn't sell...hmmm.

My biggest mistake was agreeing to be the "middle man". Always keep it simple. Connect two people together and let them set their rules and expectations.

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A new customer (long time quilter) called asking for a quote to quilt a king size quilt. I quoted her my basic $ /sq. ft. rate. The quilt top was packaged when I picked it up so did not check it over. I took it home and discovered a top that wasn’t flat or square, the rows were crooked, and there were numerous open seams. It hadn’t been pressed during or after construction and was covered in pet hair. I did my best to quilt it with a forgiving panto. I spent numerous unpaid hours, pressing, cleaning pet hair, straightening, starching and steaming and fixing it. Never again will I quote a rate over the phone without advising that extra charges may apply if additional work is needed.

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I think my list is too long to only pick the "worst"!

1. Allowing casual friends to become "besties" when they learn you have a longarm. And then letting the resentment build too long before putting a stop to it when they take advantage.

2. Not charging enough. This is my forever and ever mistake.

3. Spending too much time and energy when I get cold-calls from potential customers who are obviously shopping price. Now before I quote anything (and my prices are locally competitive) I let them know when my next opening is. If they're willing to wait, I consider them viable customers and we go from there. 

4. Thinking that a quilt isn't as bad as it seems--before loading it. :blink:

 

But I found out this week that an older Lonestar with horrible borders and very full setting triangles and squares didn't scare me at all. Luckily she wanted cheaper quilting so I was able to use some filler designs that sucked the fullness up and it came out pretty nice. That I wasn't upset or terrified by the fullness monster was very freeing!

 

 

You've all suffered through my long posts expressing disbelief that "someone could do that". People are crazy and many times it's contagious! :P

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THe worst business decision I ever made was agreeing to "help" a coworker with a memory quilt for her mother's 80th birthday.  Now I am willing to help anyone but do not make quilts for a business.  Well "helping"  meant "doing".  She stopped by my office and dropped off the pictures she wanted in the quilt.  She didn't know anything about buying fabric so let me know the colors she wanted and left it up to me to buy the fabric.  I used things from my stash as she wanted it scrappy.  I also purchased the fabric to print it on.  I used my ink to print the pictures.  Pieced it together and then quilted and bound it.  It was not huge about 40X60.  She seemed happy with it when she picked it up and generously paid me $100.00 for it.  A little more than the price of the fabric/batting/etc.  After she gave it to her mother she told me that she had forgotten one picture and wanted to know if I could add it in somehow.  I said "no" and left it at that..

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What's wrong with having the best tools for your own enjoyment?  Lots of people have really nice, expensive cars that are either very elegant or very fast, but never use them for chauffeur service or race them.  Talk to my darling sister in law about all the money my darling brother spends on his bicycle and the accompanying gear, but never races his bike or does it for a business.  (ahem) *I* at least use one of my bikes for bike commuting to work, so I am justified in my expensive bike toys.

 

Who knows Dave, after we finally get together for your beginner class (yes that was a slight nag), maybe you'll want to start your own business after all.

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I think Being too Trusting.  

 

Charging too little.

 

and not telling friends and folks I meet at church and the stores,

the first time they ask about me quilting,  that I'm in business..

 

Also not refusing to go somewhere on the spur of the moment

as Himself wants me to, and loose too much quilting time.

 

Also for not being able to open a storefront for machine quilting

ONLY

 

Rita

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I have shared my story in the business section, long story short...get everything in writing when dealing with a LQS ESP one local to me.

I would also never do a second job before being paid in full for the next. Stay professional get all business related dealings in writing and signed.

I ended up having to take this woman to court which was a huge pain and stressful. She hired a lawyer in the end and finally made me an offer which was close to my target. She had to pay a Lawyer, I wrote the rest off as a loss.

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I agree with giving friends a little 'extra' and then having them take that 'extra' and run with it!!!  I have been asked to do all sorts of things with out the benefit of $ just because we are 'friends'.  I have started telling them NO and not swaying.  I know that they wouldn't ask someone else that was quilting for them to do these things....so, rather than get resentful, I am just letting them no that I won't be doing any 'extras' without extra pay!!  

I did charge one gal for the extra ironing, squaring, cutting thread/cleaning, seaming backing.....listed the cost for each item.  She was notorious for giving me quilts that needed all of the above and just figured I would make it all 'right' if something was wrong without paying for it.  Now she makes sure everything is good before she gives the quilt to me!  

Then I had one lady that consistently would call and say she needed a rush done on a quilt.  Once I started charging her the extra fees for a rush job, she stopped asking for the rush.

Funny how so many times people will expect those extra's.

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What's wrong with having the best tools for your own enjoyment? Lots of people have really nice, expensive cars that are either very elegant or very fast, but never use them for chauffeur service or race them. Talk to my darling sister in law about all the money my darling brother spends on his bicycle and the accompanying gear, but never races his bike or does it for a business. (ahem) *I* at least use one of my bikes for bike commuting to work, so I am justified in my expensive bike toys.

Who knows Dave, after we finally get together for your beginner class (yes that was a slight nag), maybe you'll want to start your own business after all.

Nag appreciated...and class coming VERY soon...and... I AM one of those car guys...I can show you when you are here if you are interested... Two of the "toys" live next door in the DW's Art Studio!

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Cutting a "deal" for a friend for their first quilt and them expecting that on all future quilts!

Agreeing to piece and quilt for a charity that is not my charity (NEVER AGAIN)!

And on....

And on....

And on....

I am wayyyyyy to friendly to make a good business person!!!!

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When I had an embroidery business, everybody wanted things for free; after all, the machine did all the work!

My son had a female friend whose little girl had cancer, and she liked a certain boy band. I made her a cute pillow for her bed just to make her happy.  I was in a lot of pain that week but pushed thru it to finish.  When I gave it to mom, she did not even look at it. A few days later I asked how her daughter had liked it. She said she had not given it to her because she decided to give it to her for Christmas!!  What!  Then  her other daughter wanted one so stupid me made another.  Had to ask again, but she supposedly liked it.  No more for her!!

The dumbest thing I have done lately, not quilt related, is this:  told a niece, and an old friend that I recently reconnected with, in a conversation with each of them that I had been doing lots of research and reading about religions and their beginnings and that I was now an agnostic.  Tho I respected their religious beliefs, and quietly accepted their Christian Christmas cards without comment, they no longer wish to speak to me.  I guess I am a really bad person now, even tho I do lots of things for family and charity.   Wow, really?  I don't mind saying that I am stunned by this.  I guess I am supposed to respect their beliefs, which I do, but they do not have to respect mine.  I guess this is not something to tell, even family and friends.  I think if I had said I was a murderer or a thief, they would have taken it better, especially since this can be forgiven.

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Dave, did you see on the news what happened at the Corvette museum in Kentucky?  At 5:48 in the morning, the security camera caught footage of a huge sink hole opening and 8 valuable Corvettes fell in and got severely damaged.  It is enough to make a grown man cry!!

I did not...but I think I may have to shed a tear or two...yikes! That's scary!!!

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Great topic!

- being afraid to touch my machine

- buying every gadget, thinking it would help me overcome fears and quilt better

- buying $100s and $100s of dollars in gadgets instead of just buying the IQ (computer).  I was forever "feather challenged"

- not charging enough

- not charging enough

- not charging enough
- not charging enough
- buying a lot of tools and gadgets before understanding what I really need
- not charging enough

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