I’m not talking about indiscretions or extra marital affairs. I’m talking about mistakes in customer service, or missed promises, or any version of a royal…well, you know what.

As an entrepreneur you need to take care of your clients, big time. They are the lifeblood of your business after all. When you screw up (and you will at some point), here’s how you apologize and get back on track:

Say It Now

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it to your customer as soon as you identify it. If you don’t have the fix yet, tell your customer when you will be back to them with the solution.

Face Or Phone, Not Email

Mistakes can result in emotional conversations, which don’t convey well over email. Meet face to face or at least over the phone.  When we make mistakes we are impacting individuals and passive communication is not the right call. 

Details

Provide them with a detailed account of the mistake and don’t downplay it. But, don’t over dramatize it either. Stick to the facts.

Acknowledge It

Recognize that you have done some damage to your client and it may even have indirect effects that you are not aware of.

Sincere Regret

Be sincere and explain how you regret it happened.

Appreciation

Give your client appreciation for being your client and sticking with you over the years.

The Fix

Bottom line, you need to make things right. Propose a solution to your client and make sure they agree to its appropriateness. Also, be prepared to offer a form of restitution.

Bury The Hatchet

Once you resolve the problem, seek confirmation from the client that you have fixed the mistake to their complete satisfaction. Take action to ensure the mistake never happens again.

Remember this:  It is not about you, your product, or you service.  It is all about solving client issues so they can be successful.

More helpful business stories and success lessons like this can be found in the book, 15 Bedtime Stories That Keep Entrepreneurs Awake at Night.

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I can’t say I know a lot about women’s footwear, besides the fact that my wife has a lot of it.

What I can say is that I respect a great idea when I see one.

New York University students Susie Levitt and Katie Shea, like many women (from what I hear), had a problem: When they had to walk around the city during work hours, high heels made their feet hurt.  From Entrepreneur:

“They were killing our feet, but we didn’t want to give them up because we aren’t the tallest people out there,” says Levitt, 22. “So we came up with the idea of emergency footwear.”

Back at  NYU for their senior year, Levitt and Shea designed a stylish, foldable black ballet flat with a carrying case that could be tucked in a handbag and pulled out when their dogs started to howl. They gave the shoes a catchy name, CitiSoles, and a reasonable price, $24.99.

Things really lined up nicely for these two entrepreneurs, who (not considering tuition) had a wealth of free help at their fingertips.  The school offered them a library for research and development.  Business professors could serve as consultants.  NYU had lawyers who would work with the students pro bono. And what school’s public relations and marketing department, knowing a couple of their own students have a brilliant business idea, wouldn’t want to promote the living heck out of it?

Sure enough, the two were able to acquire intellectual property rights for CitiSoles, formed the company, called CitySlips, began selling, and landed articles in numerous articles in various media outlets, including the New York Times and (obviously) Entrepreneur…and offshoot blog posts such as this one, of course.

How cool.

As a man, I can’t say I’d ever think to start a women’s shoe company.  The story of Levitt and Shea is not only a case of people being in the “right place at the right time,” because executing a plan like this takes smarts.  Entrepreneurship like they display is rare, and it’s not for everyone. Who knows where it will lead these women in their lives.  Heck…their lives are just beginning.

We enjoy hearing about entrepreneurial success stories.  If you have a story you’d like to share — particularly if you have overcome a business challenge or took advantage of the market like Susie Levitt and Katie Shea did, simply go to the “tell us yours” page and submit yours.  We’d love to hear from you.

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Starting a business without modern technology? I’m sick with Amish Envy

February 1, 2010

I guess you could say I’ve recently been diagnosed with a rare disorder.
I call it Amish Envy.
It hit me after reading the story of Amos Miller and his business, Miller Farm.  Miller, who is Amish, is a Pennsylvania food producer whose annual sales sing to the tune of $1.8 million from less than half that [...]

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If you’re starting a business, you need structure: the importance of an advisory board

January 18, 2010

And if you’re anything like me, you need others to ensure that you are structured properly and moving in the right direction.
For me, this oversight came in the form of a board of advisors – not directors, per se, as that would mean I work for them. I don’t report to this board and have [...]

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Diversify your client base to discover new opportunities, says the American Staffing Association

December 23, 2009

This article is reprinted with permission from the American Staffing Association.  It first appeared in the ASA Membership Sections Spotlight email, December 4, 2009, edition.
Diversify Your Client Base to Discover New Opportunities
By Lindsay Estes*
With changes in the economy, new technology, and an increasingly global market, many ASA members have taken strides to diversify their business [...]

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Is it too early to reflect on 2009?

December 21, 2009

Don’t know about you, but I am certainly ready for 2010 to start.  2009 has been one of the most challenging times I have seen professionally.  I saw some indicators in 2008 that this was going to be a tough year but holy cow.  What does not kill us makes us stronger, right?  I did have [...]

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How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur: The Engaging Brand interview

December 15, 2009

Anna Farmery, host of The Engaging Brand show and blog, interviewed author David Ingram recently on the topic of “how to succeed as an entrepreneur,” based on his book 15 Bedtime Stories That Keep Entrepreneurs Awake at Night. 
In the interview, Ingram — President and CEO of Capital TechSearch — gives his thoughts about a number [...]

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Don’t be a Scrooge. Charitable giving is critical to your community and business

December 10, 2009

If there’s one businessman who deserved to be kept up for a night (besides Mr. Madoff), it was Ebenezer Scrooge.  A greedy man who ran a company and kept every dime for himself, and gave nothing back. And then, in one long night, he found his redemption.
If there’s one aspect of Capital TechSearch that I [...]

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If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing

December 3, 2009

If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing. – Henry Kravis
When I started Capital TechSearch, the dot-coms had crashed and the world witnessed some of the most stunning [...]

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Tips on building an ethical company: Actions speak louder than words

December 3, 2009

Are you ethical?  It’s a hard question to ask yourself, but you need to dig deep and try and view yourself as others would – that is, in the most honest light possible. Few people – if any – will say they are unethical or have no moral fortitude. But we all know that these [...]

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