Setting Client Boundaries
Like any healthy relationship, a client relationship serves to have clear and direct boundaries. Boundaries are helpful for your client as much as they are for you. When you are setting working boundaries, you are allowing your client to be more self-sufficient and increases their personal confidence by not demanding/requiring so much external support from you.
At the beginning of building a business though it can seem scary to start holding boundaries. It is understandable to take a few late night emails/texts and respond to them, you are excited! It is a new business and you are getting clients. You don’t want to lose the momentum so you start opening up times to respond that don’t work once your business starts growing. While it may have worked when you had a small amount of clients, the more you grow the more difficult it is to be there ALL the time for your clients.
Setting clear boundaries and systems is a step one in creating a holistic working environment. You may want to ask yourself; what are my hours of operation, do I answer calls outside my hours, what channels do I connect with my clients, do I allow urgent/rush/last-minute requests?
If you don’t set boundaries at the beginning, it can get really hairy the deeper your client relationship becomes.
A couple of years ago, I had clients text me at midnight and want to have personal conversations while I would remind myself keep the phone down and that I had a life outside of work. I was realizing how it was both affecting my real-life relationships, as my clients were coming before everything and anything in my life. There was nothing holistic about my own personal practice and I was feeling like a fraud. The intention of my coaching was to live a life by example and I was falling for the trap of loving my career over everything else.
I also realized the more I was there for my clients, the less they would believe in their own skills and abilities. If I had stepped a bit back and let them make the mistakes, they would learn more and build more in their personal lives and in their businesses.
It is like having a child sometimes. We watch our children fall and we want to run over and catch them before they even reach the ground. But, part of life is falling and getting back up, remembering our own personal strength by seeing it. When we respond too much or too often from our clients, we are not giving them the space to grow, learn and build from their mistakes. All real growth comes from that moment that we get up from that metaphorical fall in life.
So, how do you set clear client boundaries?
1. Make a clear document affirming your boundaries. A policy that all clients can and will see.
Make it clear and simple and easy for your clients to understand. Do not make exceptions. Your personal integrity in these boundaries is just as important as your client’s understanding of these boundaries. It is probably the hardest to stick to them as your client’s will push and pull to see where they can get in. Just remember, nothing they are paying you is enough to work 24/7 and forget about yourself. Part of being good at your career is doing the personal care that you deserve and enforcing the solid boundary.
2. Let your old clients know about your new doctrine and let new clients know from the beginning
If you wait until your blood boils and you erupt from having your boundaries being crossed repeatedly you then get into the territory of making yourself a victim and blaming your clients. Make sure to show the new policy with your older clients as soon as you create it during a time of ease and from a heart-centered approach, like everything else you do in your business.
3. Keep up with yourself!
I am definitely the one to blame when I continually let my guard down and boundaries to be broken. It happens because I love my career so much! But, if I continually do it I lose sight of the whole reason I got into my profession in the first place. I am here to be living that inspirational holistic lifestyle and so are you! Constantly check in with yourself and your standards of your clients. If you find yourself overwhelmed or distraught over a particular client, ask yourself if you are still maintaining clear and cohesive boundaries. See if you standards are still being addressed and changed them when they feel out of alignment with your life. You have the ability to change, upgrade, and shift any part of your working policy and procedures because you know what it best for you.
It is you that will either get in your way or create the freedom that serves you to succeed with all your clients and in the quality of your life. When you choose to have a holistic practice, you are choosing to have your quality of your life match and mirror your business life. Do not compromise one for the other. Instead have them work in harmony with one another.
I hope these three main principles help guide you to holding better space for your professional and personal life. Remember to find the balance in everything. It is good to be excited and it is also great to have moments to slow down and recharge.
So, go get yourself a massage, take a break and write that policy! 2018 will be the year you choose you first!
Infinite success on your holistic business,
The Snarky Spiritualist/Mindful Modern Nomad