Tom Peterson worked for many years to build a solid business selling television sets, stereo systems, and home appliances. He gave people good value, a full satisfaction guarantee, and friendly service. With the help of his wife Gloria, who handled the books, Tom developed an excellent reputation. He was proud of his high percentage of repeat customers.


About five years ago, Tom was approached by the owners of a competing company, Stereo Super Stores. They wanted him to buy them out. The price was very attractive. Everything looked good. Before making his final decision Tom asked Gloria what she thought about the purchase. She told him that even though the numbers looked good it didn’t feel right to her. However, Tom was so self-confident and so convinced that this was a rare opportunity, he went ahead and made the purchase. Within months he discovered that he had made a big mistake. He had paid much too much for a dying company. He tried as hard as he could to make it work out, but he couldn’t turn things around. He was forced into bankruptcy. He was about to lose everything, including his original business.


Tom was embarrassed, but he is a survivor. He looked at his situation. He decided to openly admit his mistake and, rather than getting bogged down in lawsuits, he would focus his energies on saving and rebuilding his original business. He saw also that he had made a mistake by not listening to his wife, and that he needed to learn from this experience. Tom played up p his mistake in judgment. He dealt with the crisis in a way that delighted many people and increased their respect for him. Old customers flocked into his store. He and Gloria adapted to changes in retailing and have built an even better business than before.


In the business world, it is natural for businessmen to gain and lose. Only those who regard their mistakes as gifts and learn from them attract endless profits.