If you want to earn the respect of your clients, you need to create some boundaries. Not only does this help give you down time, it also leverages your time and ensures your clients know what is expected of them. It’s surprising that so many businesses find this so difficult, considering how important and necessary it is for business success.
Some start-up Virtual Assistants can work above average office hours, dedicating up to 18 hours a day to their career. However the main reason most Virtual Assistants start their own business is to actually work AROUND their children or other commitments. The key, when choosing your hours is to select the hours that are most suitable to your ideal clients.
Whether you choose to work office hours, long hours or part time hours, the important thing is to be clear on WHEN you work, make these clear to your clients and make sure you stick to these boundaries yourself.
Stop rescuing them!
We all like to be thought of as invaluable. If however, we make ourselves available twenty-four hours a day, we are creating a co-dependant relationship, one where our clients cannot function without us and turn to us for support ALL the time.
The problem here is we are actually doing our clients a massive disservice. They’re not taking any responsibility for themselves and are expecting us to rescue them WHENEVER they need it – when in reality, if they are given time, they may just figure out their own solution for themselves.
Get procedures in place
If your clients think you are ALWAYS available, then there’s a good chance that you haven’t educated them on YOUR way of doing things. Having procedures and policies in place will ensure that they KNOW what to expect of you and how you expect them to behave.
Make sure you spell out what is expected of your clients on your contract and terms of service etc. Ensure you clarify what services you offer, when you are available and what’s the best way for them to contact you. Before you commit to taking on a client, go through your procedures and expectations, then get them to sign a contract confirming that they understand what is expected.
Enforce your boundaries
You need to protect your boundaries and address any boundary crossing warning signs at an early stage. Do this politely but firmly. If however, you get a client that always stretches your boundaries, don’t be afraid to drop them. If they cannot adhere to your boundaries and subsequent warnings, the chances are you don’t want to continue working with them anyway, as they’re not respecting you and your time.
Setting boundaries is key to business success AND your sanity! So make sure you put boundaries in place AND value them yourself, otherwise your clients won’t value you OR respect you.
Do you currently have your boundaries in place or is it something you have yet to clarify? What one action step can you take this week to ensure you start setting AND enforcing your boundaries?