Michelle Mone, founder of lingerie firm Ultimo Brand International, had just finished giving a speech in front of 3,000 people in Vietnam. As the audience applauded, Nguyen Tan Phat approached the stage with a bunch of flowers. Assuming he was no older than six, Baroness Mone, as she's known in the UK, gave him a hug, picked him up and held him in her arms for a photo op.

He turned out to be a very small 22-year-old man.


Few entrepreneurs will make a mistake that embarrassing but every entrepreneur makes mistakes... and some of them are really cringeworthy. Here are three facepalm moments that every business-builder encounters, and how to avoid them.

1. "Er... what announcement that's been all over the news?"

Writing on Entrepreneursenvogue.com, business coach May Busch describes walking into a big meeting expecting to talk happily about her favorite topics: coaching and leadership. The first question the company asked her was what she thought about the firm's recent announcement, a major piece of news that had been all over the industry press. Busch, who had recently returned from vacation, had no idea what they were talking about.

It wasn't easy to recover.

Entrepreneurs are always juggling a thousand different tasks. It's easy to let one slip but every meeting has to be prepared for and even every phone call. Sometimes you'll spend weeks putting together the information you need and sometimes you'll just have to do a quick Google. But there's no such thing as a no-prep chat.

2. "It's perfect. Now we can toss it."

Entrepreneurs have to be demanding. They have to push their employees and they have to make sure that the product they launch is the best it can be. Except when they don't. Hiten Shah, co-founder at KISSmetrics, described on BufferApp.com how he and his co-founder once blew a million bucks on a Web hosting company they didn't launch. "We were perfectionists so we built the best thing we could without even understanding what our customers cared about," he said.

When you're starting to build, launch with a Minimal Viable Product. You'll get to test your market... and make sure you've got one before you lose a million bucks.

3. "Sure, we can do that..."

If you ever want to see the minefield that is corporate hiring, you don't need to more than browse through the section of Quora called "Who's the worst employee you ever hired?" You'll get to see story after story of growing businesses handicapped by fast hirings and long, slow regrets: a junior copywriter who was better at sucking up to senior managers than writing copy; a newscast teleprompt operator who couldn't read; a new engineer who promised a client a facial recognition feature because Facebook has it.

Entrepreneurs will hire a lot of people. Not all of those hires are going to work out. Give new staff time to bed in but also give them a trial period that lets you see whether they're as good as their interview suggests. If they're not, ditch them quick before anyone notices you've made a giant mistake.