Setting client boundaries is something that can be difficult whether you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out.
If you are fairly new, you may not want to risk “upsetting” or losing a client. If you’ve been in business for years, some of your clients may think they can bypass your boundaries because you’ve become friends.
Regardless of your situation, it is so important for you to set – and enforce – your boundaries. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Many virtual assistants burn out because they get so tired of doing everything for their clients whenever they are asked. Stop this behavior and take control of your business now, you really can create boundaries and stick with them while doing a great job for your clients (all while having a personal life)!
Here are some tips on setting boundaries:
- Set your business hours. This is the BEST thing you can do for yourself, your family and your business. Define when you will work and when you will relax. Let your clients know up front when you will be working and when you are off the clock. Do not take phone calls or answer emails outside of those hours. Be realistic about your schedule and what will work best for your life.
- If you live within the United States, take advantage of Google Voice. You can pick a phone number and choose when it can ring to your cell, home, or office phone. You can give your clients your Google Voice number and keep your personal number private.
- If possible, use a project management tool for discussions, rather than email or phone. This way you can keep track of what was said, what due dates were agreed upon, etc without getting overwhelmed and lost in email.
- Let your clients know ahead of time when you are taking time off. Just because you work from home, you are allowed to take a vacation and have holidays off. Just be sure to give your clients a heads up. That way, if they need something completed during the time you are off, they can give you that task in advance of your vacation, so you can complete it before your time off starts.
- Let your clients know what your turnaround time is on projects, so there are no “surprises.” For example, if you need a week to complete a blog post, let them know, so that they aren’t waiting until the day before they need it to assign it to you. You can also set a “rush fee,” if someone wants you to complete a task quicker than your turnaround guidelines.
- Be clear on what you need from your clients, and when you need it. For example, if a client wants you to create a sales page, and you need a copy of the workshop so that you can write the description of what’s included, let your client know the absolute last day they can get it for you in time for you to create it before their product launch. Set some guidelines on what happens if a client misses their deadline, which will cause you to miss your deadline.
- Ask questions and let your clients know if you can’t complete the task they want you to complete. Sometimes, a client will try to get you to create a whole new blog, when you may only provide basic customizations. It’s okay to say “No, I don’t specialize in that type of task, but this is what I can do” and then, let them know what you are great at, and enjoy doing!
- Be upfront and honest with any client who is overstepping the boundaries. You can do this via email or set up a phone chat. In many cases, once they know what you need to work best, they will start following the boundaries you have set.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from problem clients. It can be scary to drop a client, but keep in mind that it opens up space for a new client. A new client who could be a much better fit for you!
- Do appreciate the clients you have! Let your best clients know that you love working with them and thank them for being awesome clients! They will respect your time and boundaries even more.
Establish what is important to you early on in your business…the sooner the better. Add whatever your boundaries are right into the client agreement so there are no surprises.
Do you have a client boundary issue or advice to share? Please tell us in the comments!