MINDSET FOCUS – BOUNDARIES IN BUSINESS
January 18, 2020
One of the most challenging things for most entrepreneurs is knowing how and when to set boundaries with clients. However, setting boundaries is essential for any business owner who wants not only to continue to grow their business but also wants to be happy and positive in their daily company functions.
I’ll start with a story – A few years ago, if a client were to contact me asking for something outside of my regular business hours, or that didn’t fit into the service that they had booked, I would ultimately give in and make it happen for them. After a couple of years of doing “whatever it took” to make every client deliriously happy, I realized that this policy had done damage to my marriage and family life, but also my mindset. I was incredibly overworked, lacking in fresh creativity, and feeling bad that I wasn’t considering the effect that my work habits had on my loved ones and friendships.
On one memorable Saturday, I was at a friends engagement party with my husband when I received a panicked email from a client who had recently launched her new blog and website. She had somehow broken the plugin that I had installed to redirect her links, and none of her Pinterest posts were appropriately directing to her site. Ok, fine, I get it. That is immensely stressful, primarily when you have worked hard to make sure that your marketing is on point and that it is driving readership to your posts. Still, this particular client was so upset that she was demanding an immediate fix, and was attacking my work, even though it had been working correctly during her launch. Ultimately, I was not responsible for the deleted plugin and reconfiguration.
The client was so unhappy that I quickly ducked into the bathroom and spent the next hour trying to talk the client off of the cliff, and to put her at ease that the situation was fixable and that I would take a look as soon as possible. But because she wouldn’t take no for an answer and didn’t feel that it was acceptable that she wait a few hours for me to get to a computer, I ended up leaving my husband at the party alone while I ventured home to spend 3 hours fixing the clients mistake.
My husband was not happy. The situation did lead to a long talk about the number of hours I was working, and about how much I was allowing my clients to dictate my lifestyle. And, he was right. From that day on, I made a point to set reasonable boundaries for my clients, and I added that content to my website and terms and conditions in clear and easy to understand language. I am no longer willing to take time away from my family and friends (and myself) just because a client asks me to do so, and this has completely changed my life.
It can be challenging to know which boundaries are vital for you to set in your business interactions, and once you do know, it can be even harder to implement them. But trust me, you will be much happier and will have healthier relationships if you make the necessary changes. Remember, when you stand firm on your boundaries, most clients will understand and will respect your time. And, while there will be some who don’t and who wholeheartedly expect you to put their lives ahead of your own, you must choose to put yourself first. Your life and your business will thank you for it.