When I started my business, I felt the need to be ‘on’ all the damn time. Especially when it came to my clients. Working late + weekends and always feeling like I had to respond to emails within minutes. It took over my life pretty quickly and made me feel chained to my desk. It wasn’t until I finally set boundaries in my business that I felt in control of my time + work. Since then, I don’t worry, I don’t ‘have’ to work weekends + people respect my time. Setting boundaries in your business can definitely feel scary at first and potentially a little bit harsh, but I promise, you’ll get over it. Here are 3 ways to set boundaries in your business.
Now, before we get into this list, I wanted to share another of my real life experiences with boundaries + standards, outside of my business. As I started building my business, I worked in retail (and even did growing up). The store I worked at longer, I was always staying late, my shifts were always changing because I wanted to be flexible, customers were returning everything (even from years ago) + at times we were running to help customers instead of taking our breaks. When I changed to another company, the change was insane. I no longer stayed late, my shifts were pretty much set in stone, my breaks were undisturbed + customers actually (for the most part) adhered to our return policy because we enforced it. Although customers did get upset at times, for the most part, no one really complained. They understood the policy + lived with it. My work life got easier because my time was respected. This is ultimately just to say, it can be scary + touch to set boundaries in your business at first, but it works. People understand. People will take your lead, so lead.
1 | Set office hours + put them everywhere!
Tell people when you’re available + when you’re not. If you only want to work Monday + Wednesday, do it. If you’re a restuarant that wants to take Sundays off, do it. Just make it clear to your visitors, when you’re open. Put them on your website, on your google my business, email signatures, etc. It’s an easy way to tell your people what + when to expect you to be open.
Personally, I have my studio hours Monday – Thursday, 10am – 4pm on my contact page, website footer + email. Now, I do tend to work weekends, cause sometimes I don’t have a life, but I can focus on projects or work without the need to respond right away.
2 | Setup an automated email responder
Let’s be honest, no one wants to be stuck in email land all day long. But it can happen. I added an automated email responder that states that I received their email, thank the sender for, well, sending it, state my office hours + that I typically respond within 24-48hrs. This gets sent, every. single. time. someone emails me. If a client emails me 10 times in 5 minutes (which has never happened), they’d get 10 autorespond emails.
It releaves the stress + feeling that you have to respond right away. Plus, it gives you more time to write a thoughtful response, while still letting the sender know that you got their message.
3 | Write down what you want + need, then tell
Make a list of your dream schedule. Make a list of everything you need before you start a project. Make a list of days you don’t want to work. Write everything you need + want that will make your work better (obviously, make it reasonable – no gold couches okay?!). Then tell them. Tell your clients your availability. Tell your customers your return policy. Tell your visitors when you’re closed for the evening. You set the rules for your business. You can do whatever you want. You just have to be vocal + tell your audience what that is, so they can adjust and know! Trust me, people just want to be aware + know what’s going on.
Bonus | Schedule Emails
Sometimes, you work late or on weekends. It’s cool, I do it too! You finally have a spare moment to respond to that email at 8pm but you don’t want to send it then, cause now they’ll think you’re available. Easy fix: schedule your emails. Yes, there’s an app for that. You can read more about it here (+ includes a tutorial on how to set it up). You can still create the boundaries for the client while working outside of your desired office hours if needed, without worry!
Those are my 3 (well 4) ways to set boundaries in your business. Once you decide what type of life you want, those tips are easy to implement. Don’t be afraid to tell + set expectations for what you need in your life. Again, it’s your business. Make your own rules. I promise, people will adapt.
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