Setting hard boundaries with potential or current clients
Ever get so close to quitting a project because no amount of money is worth the distress your client is putting you through?
I have been an entrepreneur since 2009 -- for ten years and I have dealt with people from all walks of life. I have worked with millionaires to newbies. But the most grief I have been caused is by clients who want to pay the least and expect the most. Yep, you know exactly the type I am talking about if you’re a creative like me.
Usually goes something like this “need a person who can update my wordpress, create my content for me, answer my emails 24/7, post 12 times a day and my budget is $200”. GTFO!
These kinds are in search for a fucking unicorn that doesn’t exist.
So in order to avoid troublesome clients, I set hard boundaries that are non-negotiable:
- I have a tight screening process: My first step is a questionnaire where I assess potential client needs. My very first question before even getting on a free call with me is, I ask for a budget. If they select less than $500, I cancel the consult. Because 1) I have nothing to offer for that amount 2) it’s a waste of my time 3) it’s a waste of their time
- Always have a contract in place: The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is not having a solid agreement in place. Always highlight what work will be done in the contract and make sure you put somewhere, if project goes over expectations or agreed upon terms, you WILL charge for it.
- Stop doing work for FREE: Being nice will not pay your bills. If a project has been wrapped up and client is still asking you to do things, make it clear that you will bill them for any work as your contract is complete. This will either go two ways 1) they will be happy to pay you, or 2) they’ll take care of it themselves. This “free” also includes giving free consulting or marketing advice. It’s simple: if people want access to you, they best be willing to pay for it.
- Communication: DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT respond to messages after office hours. Just because you are online and a client is blowing up your messenger, inbox or texts -- doesn’t mean you are obligated to respond right then and there. If this problem persists, ask them to direct communication to email only and you will respond in the standard 1-3 business days that all of the world operates by. Remind them, they are not your only client and they should respect your boundaries. This was hard for me and then every time I saw a certain message pop up, I’d get anxiety! So I reminded myself that I am a human and not a robot -- I’ll respond when it’s appropriate.
- You are NOT obligated to be friends with them: I have a bitchin’ personality and sometimes my clients become my friends. I usually know when I want to keep in touch with someone and most of the time I don’t. I don’t respond to that “friend request”, or follow them back on social media because I have the choice in choosing not to! You can too. Think of it has an invading of your personal space or when coworkers ask to hang out after work and you’re like “ewwwww, I’d rather not!” same thing applies here. (I have unfriended some eventually because I didn’t know how to say no)
Anyways, these are some hard boundaries I enforce in my business and it’s kept peace in my personal life too!
Do you have any tips for me? Feel free to share them in the comments below.