When it comes to your business, you need to be clear about who you are, what you do and when you work. You also need to be clear on who you work with and what’s expected during that relationship. This information helps you to form your business boundaries – and it’s these boundaries that help you AND your clients have a successful and beneficial two-way working relationship.
Are business boundaries important?
If you want to grow your business and have successful relationships with your clients, you both need to understand the terms of that relationship; this is why the boundaries you set are so important. They highlight everything, from the hours you work through to your preferred way of receiving client work files and requests.
Business boundaries also help you work more efficiently too. By clarifying your hours of work and the timescales involved, you minimise burnout and stress. Those boundaries are there to protect you and your health, as much as they are there to assist and protect those of your clients.
How to set your boundaries
So, how exactly do you set out boundaries in your business? Firstly, you need to write down a summary of:
- Who you work with
- How you work – i.e. workflows and timescales, preferred methods of contact and file sharing, preferred ways of interacting with clients and scheduling meetings, the software you use, whether you’re proactive or reactive (and if this is on a per client basis) and what your criteria is for bill payments etc.
- When you work – the hours and days you’re available
- Who you work with – your typical client and/or business niche, the type of work you do (and don’t) deal with
- What you expect from your clients – timescales, interaction, frequency, etc.
You can then use this information to write out policies making it crystal clear how you work, what you provide for your clients and what you expect from them, in return.
Learn to protect your boundaries
Remember, you’re your own boss so, once you have your boundaries in place, you need to ensure you, your family and your clients honour them. Whether instilling the importance of your working hours to your family or letting a client go who doesn’t adherer to your timescales, you need to be prepared to enforce your own boundaries and rules. Sometimes, this may simply be a case of saying ‘no’ or turning away an unsuitable client; other times, it may mean shutting yourself behind office door and away from the family or turning off your phone after the end of your working hours. You’ve worked hard to start and grow your business, now it’s time to protect your boundaries and its reputation.
Do you have business boundaries in place or is this something you need to work on? If you have already created your boundaries, what policies and procedures have you drawn up, to ensure they’re adhered to?