Mistakes Can Happen
Let's just get that header out of the way first. We can try as hard as possible to minimise them, but mistakes can and do happen. We're human. It's inevitable.
So, what should you do if a mistake happens in your business? The first thing is not to panic. Most people will forgive a mistake if you handle the follow-up properly. In the main, it's not the mistake that is the big headache, it's the lack of proper communication.
When you're growing a business you're taking risks. Mistakes will happen. You don't want to be playing it safe all the time, but you do need to know how to deal with them when they happen.
Hold Your Hands Up
The very first thing to do when you discover you've made a mistake, or it's pointed out to you is to hold your hands up.
Now is not the time to do your emu impression either. From a young age, we've learned that mistakes are not a good thing and when we find out we've made one we want to hide from it. We certainly don't want to own up, but doing just that will buy you a whole load of goodwill from the other person.
It's really easy to be tempted to try to hide or ignore mistakes, especially if you find them before anyone else. Don't.
More than just saying the words, you need to be genuine and really mean it. Just saying sorry won't get you very far if it's disingenuous. We've all been on the receiving end of this and it's really obvious.
Tell the other person what went wrong and why. There's one thread running through all of these points and that's honesty. Really look at what went wrong and why. This shows that you have integrity. You don't need to go too deep, and you certainly don't want it to sound like you're just making excuses. Don't blame other people.
Once you've owned the problem and explained how it happened you need to solve it. Don't just do it, explain how you'll solve it and what you'll do to put it right. This changes the narrative from the mistake to one of you caring about your clients or suppliers. It sounds strange, but you'll find that people give you far more credit if you make a mistake and then put it right, than if you hadn't made the mistake at all.
Prevent It From Happening Again
Once you've solved the problem, have a look at your own internal systems and processes and really understand for yourself why it happened. Make sure you review your procedures to minimize the chance of it happening again.