I hear many times from entrepreneurs that they feel like their clients are running their business that they feel like they are at their beck and call. This certainly can happen when you are new in business but it also happens to seasoned business women. I believe this affects us women more than it does men.
We are the pleasers, we want everyone to be happy and will bend over backwards to make that happen. The problem with this is that you will burn out sooner, feel frustrated too often and I’ll tell you, these clients probably won’t be happy or satisfied anyway.
I have had a lot of practice on setting boundaries in my business when I had my psychotherapy private practice for 23 years. And one of the things that attracted me to coaching is that many of those boundaries really loosened up in the coaching relationship as compared to a therapeutic relationship. You have my private email addresses, many of you have my cell phone number and I would just love to meet you for lunch!
Nevertheless, even with those softer boundaries there are other boundaries that need to be established and respected and those boundaries must be set by you.
Being an entrepreneur, being your own boss, having a home office are all wonderful things. It also means you can work 24/7 if you don’t watch yourself.
Here are some tips that have worked well for me that you might want to think about and model.
1. Set a time schedule for yourself and stick with it. Let me use my business as an example. I ‘see’ clients on the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. I also structure the calls for my programs during those times if possible.
The 2nd and 4th weeks of the month and Monday’s are days I can work on new programs, marketing and general business tasks. This allows me blocks of time to get good work done as opposed to an hour here and an hour there.
And oh, I never, ever answer my business phone after 5:00 or on weekends.
2. Set times for yourself and put them in your day timer…in ink. When do you go to the gym, when do you go for a run, when do you meditate, etc.? Literally write these in your appointment book and stick to them.
If a client says “I can only meet at 8:00 Monday morning” you simply say, “I am sorry, I am not available at that time.” You don’t have to say “I go to the gym at that time.” And please don’t cancel your gym time to meet with a client. There are many hours in a day you can meet with them.
There are some great scheduling programs available where you just set the times you are available and people simply go to that site and choose times that have been set as options by you. I use www.timetrader.com and it has been very useful.
3. Don’t accommodate or bend the parameters that you have created originally. It seems when I have ‘over accommodated’ someone it backfires on me. They are usually going to want more ‘accommodations’ over time and meanwhile others who were able to make their schedule work may be hurt.
With our technology today, most calls are recorded or even transcribed. If they want your information they will be able to have access to it and listen later.
This is your business. Your boundaries will be honored and respected by your clients and if they are not, they can go elsewhere, they are not a fit for you.
Coaching Request: What one thing can you do today to tighten your boundaries?