Starting to see your business grow is amazing.
You finally begin to see all the hard work pay off. People consistently contact you for business, and existing clients want more work done.
When you first establish your business, you're likely to move heaven and earth to fulfill your clients' requests. You work weekdays, nights, and weekends, answering phones and messages, not wanting to miss out on any opportunities.
Sound familiar? Believe me, I know how you feel! The trick is to set communication boundaries BEFORE you fall into the trap of working until midnight on Saturday nights.
It's easy to think you should be available 24/7 to your clients. Deep down you may fear that if you don't answer clients or prospects straight away, your business will fail. I can promise you now, it won't!
Is your bank or GP available 24/7? Not unless they have a dedicated support team. Does this mean you won't do business with them? No. Why? Because you know exactly when they will be available.
Once your business starts to grow, you need to put boundaries in place in order to manage the expectations of your clients. What are your business hours? How should your clients get in touch with you? Is Whatsapp, Facebook, Google Messenger, or text really the best way to manage communication? What's your response time?
Here are a few things you can do today to set boundaries in your business... and set yourself up for success:
1. SET UP TERMS & CONDITIONS -
This is so important. Many new solopreneurs have a strong idea of what their terms and conditions are, but haven't made them clear. Others (like me... oops.) haven't considered these things in black and white until now. How are our clients supposed to know what is acceptable and what is not? No need to cry over it, but let's fix things TODAY! Publish them on your website and notify your clients!
It can be a challenge to communicate new terms and conditions to your existing clients, but keep it short and sweet. Just let them know you're updating your terms and conditions and wanted to let them know.
2. GET A BUSINESS PHONE
When you can count your first clients on one hand, it's hard to justify buying a dedicated phone line for them. I recommend that as soon as you launch your business, invest in its very own phone! Keeping your communication separate will help balance your personal and business life, especially with high client volume or intensity. Imagine avoiding late night calls by simply turning your business phone off at __p.m. Hello again, sleep! This will help you mentally, as you'll be fully refreshed to tackle the next day's work, and economically when the time comes to reconcile your finances.
3. USE EMAIL AS A PRIMARY METHOD OF COMMUNICATION
The multitude of communication apps available today makes it easy to forget about email. Chatting is quick and easy. But how much communication is too much? If you're anything like me, you really enjoy your clients. They are fascinating people launching interesting businesses, and we just get along. I can promise that you both will make better use of your time by keeping project communication on email. It is easier to refer back to (which landing page did she prefer?) and lives in one place. You'll have more composed thoughts to work with and will be better able to manage the time you dedicate to projects. Arrange coffee dates elsewhere :)
4. SET UP AUTORESPONDERS
While we're discussing email, set up autoresponders. This little robot is your friend. An automated first response assures your client you've heard their need, and allows you time to draft an appropriate response. A solid autoresponse lets your client know their email has landed safely in your inbox AND roughly when she or he can expect a response. With a sense of time in mind, they'll be put at ease, and you can take some of the pressure off yourself. Do clients often ask the same questions? Also consider an autoresponse here. Include the necessary information or redirect them to a page on your website.
If right now you're picturing the red app alerts on your phone, or all the late nights you spend on your business, don't worry. It's never too late to establish boundaries. In fact, do it right now. Remember, you determine how you communicate with your clients, and they will be grateful for the clarity.