How to set boundaries in your service based business
If you take a quick look on social media, you’ll find that entrepreneurship is overly glamorised.
And, while there is no denying that running your own business is incredibly rewarding, with a never ending list of benefits; it sure does come with its own set of challenges too!
The biggest one for most is setting boundaries.
When you’re self employed, EVERYTHING lies on your two shoulders.
If you perform well, you get all the credit, same goes for when you do badly…
Most of us will go above and beyond to ensure our clients are given the best possible service. A lot of times doing more harm to our businesses (and well being, for that matter) than good!
I figured out pretty early in my business that I needed to establish boundaries with my clients and customers. A set of ground rules was vital if I were to provide them the best service possible, while maintaining my own sanity; e.g. not having to complete a job in one day when I know it will require at least three.
And how did I do this, you might be wondering?
Client Welcome Packets!
Something as simple as a client welcome packet made a HUGE difference in the way I ran my business. All of a sudden, I had more control! It was such a relief!
Setting clear boundaries and conditions before a project begins is absolutely essential. You, as the service provider, will be covered while your client is clear on what to expect while working with you. Managing expectations makes the whole process easier by eliminating any misunderstandings that could potentially sour the entire experience for both parties involved – something we want to avoid!
Here are a few ways you can use a Client Welcome Packet to set boundaries in your service based business:
1| Write out your entire process, clearly
Once I got clear on my process of what will happen throughout the entire project, from the very beginning when signing on a new client, to the end where I hand over the project files, I felt more organized and less overwhelmed.
Adding my process to the client welcome packet that I give new clients at the beginning of each new project, means that they are fully aware of what to expect during our time working together.
Clearly mark important dates during the project, for example, when they will need to provide you with certain information, or when they can expect the first draft of work to give helpful feedback. This will help things run much more smoothly!
2| State your working hours
As entrepreneurs it can be so hard to clock out at the end of each day. And for me, as a wife and mum, it feels as though I’m always working to make up for the time I cannot spend on my business during the day.
This is why I needed to make it known, and understood, that I will not always be in front of my laptop to reply to emails right away, or make “quick changes” immediately. It is important to me that clients respect my time just as much as I respect theirs.
Also, since I work with clients from all around the world, I had to remind them of the time difference so that they know to give me 24 hours to respond to their messages.
3| Manage their expectations
As I said before, it is vital to manage your client’s expectations by making it clear what your service entails, as well as what they’ll be getting from you at the end of the project. Never assume things are clear, never assume people will think the way you do – always cover your tracks as best you can to avoid disappointment and misunderstandings.
For example, if you are a photographer and the end project will consist of 30 edited photographs, you need to stipulate in the terms and conditions that you will not be handing over the raw images to your client, unless this was discussed before hand.
It’s best to dot all your Is and cross all your Ts, and double check that nothing is vague or ambiguous.
Do you struggle to set boundaries in your business?
For the most part, people are kind and understanding, especially when you firmly (and respectfully) set out your ground rules.
I do not believe people are out to get you around every corner.
However, I strongly encourage you to protect yourself and your business by not leaving things to chance. Working on a project where everyone is on the same page, and know exactly where they stand, makes for a stress free, positive experience that will hopefully have them coming back for more – or recommending your services to someone else!