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When is your $600,000 mistake coming?

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in Leaders & Managers

When do you own up to a mistake, cut your losses and keep errors from compounding?

For Kevin Plank, it was $600,000 down the road toward a new line of women’s sports apparel.

Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour Performance Apparel, saw an opportunity to expand his customer base, which had been overwhelmingly male, to women. So, the company took 18 months and developed eight new women’s styles. But sloppy sewing marred the samples. It also became obvious that the company hadn’t sought enough advice from its customers and experts.

“When we received the first samples, I knew right away we needed an apparel team … and that no one would ever see this first run of the line,” says Plank. “It was my decision to pull the project. We took a $600,000 hit in inventory.”

That mistake punished the fledgling company, but it relaunched an entirely reworked women’s line in 2003. The line then grew to 11 styles, making up 10 percent of volume for the now-$50 million company. The spring line is adding another 24 styles, and plans for the fall call for another 18 styles.

 “It’s always important to pull the plug on something that’s not working before the public sees it,” Plank says. “Money can be replaced, but I never would have forgiven myself if I had let a subpar product line go out the door.”

— Adapted from “My Biggest Mistake,” Carole Matthews, Inc.com.

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