Have you ever been caught in a tricky situation where you felt like a client crossed boundaries with you? Or maybe you felt like the lines of your professional life and personal life started to blur. This can happen when a client expects something outside the scope of work you agreed upon, or even something as simple as them expecting you to reply to them right away to questions outside of work hours.
Today, I’m going to give you tips for establishing clear boundaries with your clients and better achieve work life balance in the process. And today’s topic comes straight from Hobby To Pro Toolkit – where you get the tools, steps, and workflows to make your photography business happen.
How To Create Boundaries In Your Small Business
Boundaries in business is key to avoiding burnout and the feeling that your clients are asking too much or are over-reaching into your personal life.
Boundaries are when we teach clients how to treat us and communicate with us. Good business boundaries help both parties feel that they received what they wanted and yield happier final outcomes (yay 5-star reviews) and the likelihood of repeat business.
The conversation of boundaries quickly becomes a conversation around work-life balance. We’re going to get into this more next week too.
Tip #1: Establish Work Hours
Until you know what hours you plan to work on your business, it is tricky to build a boundary around those times for both yourself and your clients. If you are working a day job and your business is something you do on the side, don’t skip this step. If anything, you will want to think this through even more-so as your time is even more limited and needs to count.
A great exercise I recommend is to begin with a blank weekly calendar and fill it in with all the things you have already committed to. This will allow you to see the gaps of times that can be used for work activities.
When I did this exercise, I realized that even with small children at home, there was more time than I thought for me to dedicate to the business if I was committed to finding it.
Tip #2: Set A Booking Limit
When you are a service based business owner, you are trading money for a service and in most cases this takes your TIME to complete the service.
Just like we pointed out by establishing work hours, your time is finite and therefore needs to be protected. Be proactive about establishing a booking limit. I set booking limits both at a monthly level but also a weekly level. If you know you cannot handle more than 2 events per weekend for example, that’s your booking limit.
Tip #3: Decide How You Want Your Clients To Communicate With You
I think client communication is probably one of the areas I see entrepreneurs struggle with most in this area. If we’re not proactive, the client will begin to dictate how they want to communicate and it can lead to frustration and you feeling disrespected.
Let’s say, for example, you want to keep communication to email for your clients. If you don’t clearly establish this and (more importantly) communicate this, it’s very easy for texts and phone calls to become the default. And to be fair – if you don’t communicate this and set up the expectation of how you would like communication to go, you can’t really blame the client either.
I can almost hear the questions….”So, what do you do when a client texts you, but you don’t want to text with them?” Good question. Depending on the time of day, I will do one of 2 things. Outside of work hours, I will not respond. Within work hours, I respond and re-direct to email if that’s the more appropriate channel.
If this was helpful to you, and you’d like to get the full guide to boundaries and work life balance- you can find it inside my Hobby To Pro Toolkit. HTP gives you the emails, policies, and workflows you need to confidently go pro in your photography business.
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