This is YOUR business, so why can it be so hard to set boundaries with your clients?
It can be difficult to transition from employee to entrepreneur, especially in the early stages. We might be so used to having a boss, that finding yourself running your own business and working for clients can take some adjustment.
It's easy to think of our clients as our 'boss' and fall into the trap of treating them as such. This can result in boundaries blurring, creating an always 'on' culture, and in worst cases, neglecting the growth of your own business in favour of your clients' business.
In actual fact, when it comes to a client/supplier relationship, it should be totally equal. You are choosing to work with them just as much as they are with you! It's the equal relationships that build the most mutual satisfaction and have longevity.
So, it is important to remind yourself (and your clients) that:
👉🏽 You set your rates.
👉🏽 You set your payment terms.
👉🏽 You set your working hours.
👉🏽 You set your services.
👉🏽 You set how and when you communicate with your clients.
Being clear during the onboarding process about how you will work with your clients can help manage a clients expectations and help you out in the long run by creating a happier working relationship with your clients.
If you are just starting out in your business, then it can feel challenging to get these boundaries in place, but the sooner you start implementing them, the easier it will become.
If you would like your business to grow, it is really important to have successful, professional relationships with your clients, and setting clear boundaries will help to implement this. You may find it helpful to lay these boundaries out in a welcome letter to your clients or other onboarding documents. By having your guidelines in writing, you can always refer your client back to them if you feel you need to address your boundaries with them again.
You may also find that the biggest trampler of your boundaries is... you!
The best way to overcome this is to set boundaries which make sense for you, don't replicate other peoples. For instance, you may see lots of fellow VAs choosing to not work Fridays, or have them as CEO days, which is brilliant. However, if you work 9-3, you may choose to work on Fridays as well - which is also brilliant! Set boundaries around what is comfortable for you, and they will be easier to enforce.
If you are struggling with enforcing boundaries with an existing client you may find that they are feeling confused as they were used to working with you in a particular way. This can build tension in your working relationship and you may face the need to have an uncomfortable conversation with them where you remind them of your boundaries, so it is in your best interests to manage this from the start of your working relationship.
If your boundaries suit your potential clients, then you will be a great fit!
If they don't... then you need to be careful not to let them drive YOUR business.