Acres of Diamonds: Turning Typing Mistakes into Liquid Gold

Anyone who has ever used a typewriter has experienced the frustration of hitting the wrong key. Depending on which year you made this mistake, you had very few choices as to what you could do after making the mistake.

For most of the typewriter’s existence, if it was an important piece of paper you were typing you had no choice but to throw away the one with the mistake and start over again.

This was very time-consuming. For some, it was impossible to actually type a whole page worth of characters and not make a mistake. This meant many people couldn’t use the typewriter at least not until someone could solve this problem.

A Valuable Solution

In 1954, an executive secretary, Bette Graham, decided that there was a better way. Her mother was an artist and Bette decided to use tempura paint to cover up her typing mistakes.

Soon, others in the office saw what she was doing and wanted some of this magical liquid Bette called “Mistake Out.”

The demand for it grew and she started making it at home. Her son and his friends would bottle it up.

In 1958 an office magazine ran an article about “Liquid Paper” which resulted in over 500 orders. This grew to over 5,000 bottles per week by 1962.

By 1975 she moved the headquarters of Liquid Paper from San Antonio to Dallas. Three years later she sold her company, Liquid Paper, to Gillette for $48 million.

Bette’s Acres of Diamonds was sitting in her mom’s painting supplies. She turned an irritation with typing mistakes into a multi-million dollar fortune.

Other Solutions

Over the years this same problem has led to many other solutions:

  • Typing training (teach people how to not make mistakes)
  • Typing tests (screen out the bad typists)
  • Erasable paper
  • Erasable ink
  • Ink remover
  • Cover-up sheets – looked like white carbon paper
  • Different keyboard layout like the Dvorak keyboard
  • Correcting typewriters
  • Type ahead buffers with built in dictionaries
  • Dedicated word processors like the Wangwriter
  • Word processing software like Wordstar, Word Perfect and Microsoft Word
  • Voice dictation software like Dragon Speak

Each of these solutions is someone else’s Acres of Diamonds. There can be more than one successful solution to a problem.

Finding Your Own Acres of Diamonds

Ask yourself a series of questions:

What problems are you facing that others face?

Which of those problems would people be willing to pay money for a solution?

What possible solutions are there for that problem?

Which solution seems like the right one for you to pursue first?

What are your next action steps?

You don’t have to have a degree, a special background, previous experience or certification to come up with a great solution to a persistent problem. You just have to decide you want to find a solution and take action. The power of intention and persistence will yield great rewards.

About the Author

Dan Swanson is an Internet marketing consultant, who systematically increases qualified traffic and improves conversions of visitors to customers for client’s websites. For more information on his Internet marketing consulting services visit

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