Let’s have a talk about the B word that everyone hates. No, not that one.
Most new entrepreneurs (self included) automatically turn cringy when they think about boundaries because they have a mindset of scarcity and are afraid of turning away prospective clients and much-needed money.
Friends! Here’s the magic statement that will turn your life around:
If you keep giving space in your life with people who aren’t right for you, you won’t have any time or energy left for the people who ARE right for you.
We have limited time and energy in our day. Why would you want to waste your reserves on something that you’re not 100% about? It works in your personal life too. See my absolute favorite article about this.
How do you begin to set boundaries? Here’s some tips:
Think about how you work best.
Do you do your best “real work” in the morning? Then don’t allow clients to invade your time with meetings until after noon. Are you a night owl? Set your office hours to start at 11 am, or find clients who work in Pacific time.
Think about how you like to communicate.
*soapbox rant* I HATE the phone. I am usually working with headphones on, so by the time I take them out, I’ve missed your call. I can rarely think on my feet well enough to sound eloquent and professional, and my phone service loves to cut out.
For the longest time, I humored clients who <3 the phone because, well, they’re clients. But you know what happened when I confessed to a couple that it really wasn’t my ideal form of communication?
THEY STOPPED CALLING ME. Because they value my work and they want me to be able to give it their best.
We also came to an understanding about why they enjoy the phone (it’s easier and faster) so now, I’m actually inclined to call THEM if I need something quickly. Even if there might be a screaming kid in the background.
Think about the level of collaboration you desire.
I found it life-changing to take email off my iPhone and only respond to messages during designated “email times.” Other people may like to deal with messages as they come in so that they don’t pile up. Some people like weekly status calls to keep on track. Some may thrive on getting “Thank you” email confirmations, others may absolutely abhor them.
Think about how much you need to get paid.
I know money is the hardest thing to think about. There are people right now doing the kind of work I do for $5/hour. There are people out there doing the work I do for $500/hour.
The right client for you is the one who can afford the rate that you set because it’s what you need in order to 1. Give the relationship your all 2. Keep your lights on 3. Have time for Netflix and a personal life. If a client tries to undercut you, they don’t understand the value of your work. Do you really want to be in a business relationship with someone who undervalues you?
Once you know what you want out of a relationship, TALK TO YOUR CLIENTS about what your preferences are. This doesn’t have to be a hard conversation. Most of my boundaries have been stated when we’re doing our initial shoot-the-shit how are you before we break down to business. If you have clients who do not want to meet your guidelines, they are not your people. There are always more clients out there. Cut your losses and find the people who are right for you!