When you commit a mistake, your first instinct is to conceal it, to somehow keep it hidden from your clients.
Naturally, as a small business owner, you might worry about how mistakes can adversely affect your reputation. Some people even try to shift the blame, declaring that someone else or something else is responsible for the error.
But in reality, you might be better served by owning up to your mistakes, and not just because it will make you feel a better person.
You aren’t harming your business
To err is human, after all. You’re going to make mistakes, especially if you’re just starting out. There might be delays, you might mistake an order, mess up a project or miss a deadline. These things happen and most entrepreneurs panic, worrying that they might’ve just ruined their budding business.
It is true that you’re assuming a lot of risk when you’re the boss. Every single mistake can feel like a personal failure. But it’s not a failure, rather an opportunity to learn. The lessons you learn from your mistakes can be very memorable so in the future, these missteps actually help you improve and as you improve, your business does to.
You’re being accountable
Everyone knows what criticism from an important client feels like. If your work isn’t up to the mark, people who’re paying you money will have something to say about it. Your natural reaction is to placate them, to offer them excuses or shift the blame. Some small business owners don’t hesitate to throw their employees under the bus.
It’s actually in your best interest not to do that. In the eyes of the client, you’re accountable for all your employees. Their mistakes are your mistakes and that’s how it should be. Instead, if you recognize the mistake, admit it to the client, offering no false platitude. This would show your clients that you’re a responsible entrepreneur. In fact, being accountable would bolster your business reputation. Your clients have committed mistakes in their lifetime and they know just how difficult it is to admit to it.
All entrepreneurs want the words honesty and integrity associated with their business. However, just saying you’re honest isn’t enough because everyone says it. Life, of course, will generously provide you with an opportunity to prove it. When you make mistakes or notice an error in your work, there are three roads to take. You can ignore it and hope your clients don’t notice. You can shift the blame and try to escape accountability. You can call your clients and explain the situation to them personally.
Take a long-term view
The two former options will only harm your business in the long-term. If you’re not being responsible and dealing with mistakes with maturity, your employees can hardly be expected to do otherwise. In the end, the quality of your product or service might suffer. If you admit to the mistake, you prove that you run an honest, ethical business and possess integrity.
If you approach your client with a positive attitude toward mistakes, they’re going to respond accordingly. Of course, they are people who might be upset and disinclined to continue working with you. However, in most cases, clients appreciate your honesty.