No matter how well trained you are or what business systems and workflows you follow, mistakes will happen in your business. You’re only human and everyone makes mistakes at one stage or another. But when mistakes happen in your business, the way you handle them says so much about you as a person and a business owner. 

Often, it’s the aftermath of a mistake that will dictate whether a client feels able to continue working with your or even trust you. So it’s crucial that you learn how to handle mistakes well.

But what does that mean? Is there a ‘correct’ way to handle mistakes?

The answer is a definite ‘yes’! Here’s what you need to do when mistakes happen in your business.

#1: Step up and own your mistakes 

If you’ve done something wrong, you need to get in front of it fast. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope it isn’t noticed. Instead, step up, apologise for it and communicate how you’re going to rectify it. Your clients are more likely to respect your honesty and act more favourably in response to the mistake if you take responsibility for it.

#2: Do what you need to do, to put it right 

Some mistakes are simple and quick to rectify. Things like a typo, missed payment, overcharging a client can all be rectified easily. But some mistakes happen in your business that may need you to step outside of the box to find a creative solution. So ask yourself, what do you need to do, to make it right? What can you do, to solve the problem a mistake has created? 

#3: Learn from your mistakes

Owning up to your mistake and putting it right is only really half the equation. If you want to give your clients the best of you, you need to reflect on what happened and learn from it. So ask yourself, what did you do wrong? How did it happen? What can you learn from it – and is there anything you need to change, to minimise the likelihood of it happening again?

#4: Change and move forward

And that’s what this next step is about. You’ve reflected on it, now’s the time to implement any changes needed, to minimise the chances of a recurrence. Do you need to change your system? Is there something you need to start or stop doing? Maybe you need to start an operations manual to help you be prepared for any eventuality or to document your workflows? Do you need to invest in software to automate the process and eliminate human error? Letting your clients know what changes you’re implementing too. As this will help illustrate how dedicated you are to providing them with the best possible solutions – and that you’re willing to learn and grow to make them even better.

#5: Let it go

Finally, don’t beat yourself up over it. Mistakes happen and for the most part, they’re not soul-destroying or business busting. But if you’re sensitive or lacking in confidence, it’s easy to act as though they are. Maybe you need to work on your personal development, so you can become more confident or be more sure of yourself. Learn what you can from the mistake, implement any changes you need and then let it go.

No matter how well trained or established you are as a business, mistakes will happen. But how you respond to them will say a lot about how you are as a business owner and person. 

If you follow the advice above you’ll show that you’re both trustworthy and professional. You don’t have to be perfect all the time, to be the right fit for your clients. But you do have to show that you’re willing to improve, learn and grow no matter what the circumstances – to ensure you’re giving the best possible service to your clients.

And if you’d like access to ongoing VA training and support, to help you work on yourself and your business, why not join the VA Membership? It offers you affordable, practical support and the expert help you need, to build and grow your VA business.