You did it! You booked a client! They said yes! You have work…and money and….and…..
They won’t stop emailing you….
They keep calling you at all hours of the day….
The changes they want to things are never ending…
And truth be told, while you badly wanted a client a few weeks ago now you are going crazy!
Is this what entrepreneurship really looks like?
No, it isn’t.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s time to set boundaries. As a matter of fact, don’t wait until you are in a situation like this to set boundaries.
Let’s do it right now so that you can avoid any bad client relationships (and change the one you might currently be in).
Here are the steps you need to follow to set healthy boundaries with your clients:
Step 1: Set and communicate your work hours
If you don’t already do this in your business, you need to. Just like any business has work hours you need to have work hours. The best part is that you get to decide what they look like. It can be weekends, evenings, mornings, etc. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for flexibility or that you can’t change when you are working. However creating work hours makes it easy for clients to know when they can communicate with you and expect to hear from you. Set your work hours and then clearly communicate them.
*Tip: One of the ways I communicate my work hours is by having them in the signature of my email. That way, it’s a gentle reminder when I communicate with others what my work hours are.
Step 2: Have a contract
I cannot recommend this enough and yes it is absolutely worth the investment! When you are getting ready to work with others the best thing you can do is create a contract that clearly outlines expectations. That includes the exact scope of work, turnaround time, communication, payment, work hours, how you are available/when, revisions included, fees for additional work etc. I recommend working with a lawyer to draft a custom contract based on the exact services you provide, however, if you don’t have a budget for that yet then purchasing a contract template can help you get through working with clients until you can get a customized one.
Step 3: When boundaries are crossed, communicate immediately
This is one of the things I learned to do early on in my business, especially in my second business where I was a service provider. In most cases, if someone crosses a boundary it’s because they don’t know that there is a boundary there. Give people the benefit of the doubt (without letting them do it again) and communicate that you have that boundary. It can be something as easy and polite as saying, “Hello (insert client name), I don’t take calls on weekends but I will be sure to review and respond to your email on Monday morning when I’m back in the office. Have a lovely weekend!” Be polite and communicate right away.
Step 4: Set clear expectations from the start
Something important to keep in mind is that a new client might not have experience working with a coach/web designer/marketer/etc. and they might not know what to expect. The other thing that is true is that they haven’t worked with you in this capacity before and don’t know what to expect. It’s your job to communicate and set the expectation. You can do this by having an introductory call or at the beginning of your first meeting where you just outline some expectations, answer questions they have and make sure that everything is clear right from the start. I bet your client will also appreciate you doing this.
These are some of the most important steps you can take as you set the foundation for your business. It will not only help set you and your client up for a good experience but it will communicate expectations and make your work more enjoyable!
Tell me, do you have any of these things in place in your business?