Virtual Assistants are perfect, right? Wrong. What to do when you make a mistake on the job.

Mistakes on the job are inevitable unless one truly is perfect. In my 36 years, I have not met one such person. If you are a business owner, how do you handle mistakes? How one responds to mistakes they make shows a good deal about their character. Someone may try to cover it up and lie. Others may place the blame on someone else or make excuses. I choose to lead by example in my home and in my professional life, and I always respond to mistakes with integrity. As a virtual assistant, I can give you some examples where I have screwed up, sometimes royally, and what I have done to fix it.

Typos in an email

Typos are the worst. I type over 100 words per minute, and I have to go back through and proof what I type. Many people have editors to help them with their errors, but as a single business owner, I am the writer and editor. There are times when my eyes have missed a misspelled word or an extra comma. When I go back after some time has passed, I’m able to find my errors. I have sent out a couple of emails with typos, missing links or even the wrong links to thousands of people. Scary, right? Luckily, I have some very understanding clients.

Sent order to wrong customer

Most recently, one of my clients had a customer who was very upset because they hadn’t received their order. I couldn’t find the customer’s order in our records. We do have a lot of scammers so we chalked it up to someone scamming. The customer sent in proof his credit card was charged for the order, and I went digging some more. I sent his order to the wrong address. I had the wrong first name on his order. And to make the situation even worse, I had misspelled his last name. The error was totally my fault, and I took full responsibility. I apologized to the customer, and I explained to my client what I had done. He said he trusted I would fix it, and that was it. We have some very expensive orders so luckily the order in question was $60. I know it shouldn’t matter if it were $6 or $6,000, but in this case, I was very happy that it was a $60 order.

Took down an entire client website

Of course, I’m saving my best example for last. A client of mine had me update the meta tags for all of the site pages on one of their client sites. I changed the slugs by mistake and took down their entire site because their website navigation depended on the original slugs. Luckily, there was a backup so the developers were able to back the site up and get it running again. Everyone with a website should be backing it up. That has nothing to do with this article, but that’s a friendly tip.

Mistakes aren’t the end of the world

While mistakes aren’t necessarily the end of the world, you do have to learn from your mistakes and be careful not to make them. I know I work fast. I make checklists for everything; even tasks I complete all the time. I send a weekly email for another of my clients, and there’s a paragraph of fine print where I have forgotten to change the date. I have a checklist that reminds me to change the date, change the image in the email, update the first paragraph, and you get the point. No task is too small for my checklist.

If you are hiring someone to work for you, you want someone honest who owns their mistakes and learns from them rather than someone who will lie to you, make excuses or place blame on team members. Whether you hire a virtual assistant or you are one, how someone handles it when they make a mistake is very important. Pay attention.


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