Having clear boundaries makes you easier to work with.
Because I work with a network of business owners who encourage each other to be strong and bold and know their value I’ve always been heartened when they dismiss clients who don’t respect their boundaries.
The “always-on” culture is partly to blame for boundaries becoming blurred but the responsibility for maintaining them is firmly in our own hands.
Assuming you’ve already agreed terms and conditions and that these include all the usual things like the scope of work, payment schedules and how and when you’ll communicate with clients it should be relatively easy to make sure everyone sticks to the rules.
Except that it isn’t.
“I’ve added you to the team WhatsApp group.”
“Did you get the email I sent at the weekend?”
“I need this before close of play today.”
“You don’t seem to answer your phone when I call.”
“My social media guru doesn’t like this. I’ll get them to message you.”
“I need to put this on hold. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to you.”
“The schedule we agreed won’t work now. I need to change it.”
I’m sure you can add a lot more …
Reminding clients about your terms more than once can be exhausting and frustrating but if you don’t protect yourself both you and your more respectful clients will suffer.
Here’s a “not to do” list to protect those boundaries
1. Don’t have your business email on your phone.
2. Don’t give clients your phone number – there are many other ways to communicate.
3. Don’t have notifications for messages and emails on. Log in to check them.
4. Don’t let other people’s “urgent” nudge out your “important”.
5. Don’t forget why you work for yourself. Be the best boss you ever had, not the worst.
If you think a client will kick off when you enforce these boundaries, they’re not the right client for you, no matter how much they’re paying you. If you’re good at what you do (and you are, aren’t you? Just ask your favourite clients) you’ll soon get more of the right sort of work with the right sort of people.
Good clients LIKE clear boundaries
When you’re clear about what your clients can expect it takes away all the second guessing. They find it easier to deal with you. They know if they send an email at the weekend because it’s convenient to them that you won’t get upset or feel pressured into responding immediately and that it will be dealt with in a timely fashion when you’re ready. When everyone knows where they stand life is much easier.
Be brave, keep those boundaries in place and life will be a lot better.
Working in an accountability vacuum of isolation can be a big barrier to creating the working conditions you want.
If you’d like to talk about setting the right conditions and attracting the clients who really appreciate you, just get in touch.