Boundaries and Expectations: 5 Critical Points You Need to Address with All Your Clients

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My friend, I never thought I would be saying this, but I have learned to detest how generous I am. You see, once again, an absence of boundaries and expectations has come back to bite me in the butt. Hear me loud and clear, however, that the most recent occurrence was definitely my last.

Rather than finding myself in a hard space — mentally and financially — I would MUCH rather be focusing my time HERE, where I can give you — and many more — lessons from my decade+ of experience.

My recent bout of over-giving cost me time and money, as well as good-standing with numerous clients.

Am I shaken by this?

Yes. Who wouldn’t be?

But at the beginning of 2019, I handed my business over to God and I’ll trust that this is one of the lessons HE needed to teach me. (Believe-you-me… Others tried to teach me, but I resisted.)

The reasons I wound up in this situation, however, were three-fold:

  1. Deliverables were not clearly communicated
  2. Boundaries were not firmly established
  3. I allowed the client’s hardship to become mine

I don’t want you to fall into the same trap I did, which is how this article came to be. So, without further ado…

Boundaries and Expectations: 5 Critical Points You Need to Address with All Your Clients

1. Project Deliverables

As a marketing and business automation mentor, much of the work involved in a project is NOT created by me or my team, but by the client.

For example, my team and I do NOT provide copywriting services. Do I write my own copy? Yes. Do people like the copy I write and ask me to write theirs? Yes. But that is NOT the business I am in, it is not the business I want to be in, and I need to clearly express that this is not included in the services we offer.

Remember, when you agree to work which is not included in the contract, you are violating your own boundaries and expectations. You will have only yourself to blame when that client comes back, again and again, for other work outside of the contract.

Don’t let that happen!

2. Turnaround Time

I can’t remember the last time I worked with only one client. It’s been years, to say the least. Between client work and calls, podcast recordings and my own content creation, I need to provide an adequate and appropriate expectation for when my team and I will provide deliverables to our clients. In addition, they need an understanding as to how long it will take for us to get back to them after they send a message. (See #3 for communication expectations).

3. Communication

I am no longer providing my cell phone number to clients. And, despite the fact that I work out of my home office, I will never again call a client from my home phone.

Why?

Boundaries.

I guarantee that super needy clients will use each and every method of communication to reach out to you when their next bout of scarcity mindset crops up. Nobody needs this. I once had a client who, when they didn’t receive an email response within two hours, proceeded to Skype message me, Skype call me, text me, send a Facebook message AND tweet at me.

Save yourself the hassle and let your clients know what they can expect for a response time frame AND what TWO methods of communication they should use. The first should be for day-to-day messaging, and the second for live calls.

And for goodness sakes, unless your clients’ lives literally depend on it, do NOT give them your cell phone number. Ever. Text messages hours before the New York Stock Exchange opens are definitely considered, by me, to be violating my personal boundaries.

By the way, I’ve removed Skype and Facebook messenger from my cell phone. Neither you nor I need late night messages from clients who are in the throws of Chronic Idea Disorder. (My apologies, Arianna Huffington. I have not yet purchased an alarm clock, so, yes, my phone does still sleep next to me.)

4. Hours of Operation

My official business hours are 10am-5pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, however it wasn’t until just recently that I began to respect these hours when it came to client calls and communication.

Seeing as I’m not a medical professional or insurance saleswoman, most emergencies aren’t actually emergencies. Instead, frantic phone calls and emails are the result of a feeling of panic that creeps in when goals aren’t being reached “fast enough.” Has the shit hit the fan in the middle of a client launch? Heck, yes! But you better believe that in those two week periods, my 10-5 is more like 5am-10pm.

What I’m saying is… Just because my client has an idea for a marketing funnel at 7pm EST doesn’t mean I’m going to skip my kid’s soccer game to go build it out using McDonalds WiFi. (Yes, this has actually been asked of me. Listen HERE.)

I would be lying if I said I don’t work outside my business hours. I do… a lot! However, I no longer allow my boundaries to be broken by responding to emails after 5pm. Instead, I use a handy dandy (FREE!) gmail feature which allows me to schedule my emails for the next morning!

Boundaries and expectations scheduling emails from gmail

5. Payment for Services

Look, you know what your services are worth and the value they provide. If you don’t know this, it’s time you join the community in the Positive Productivity Pod (“http://thekimsutton.com/positive-productivity-pod”). Nobody should EVER ask you to do work for free, and if they do, the answer is simple.

“No.”

But what happens when you enter a contract, get paid a retainer, and the retainer runs out?

You ask for a refill! DO NOT WORK FOR FREE! If the payments stop, you stop working!

Your time is valuable, and the products and services you provide to your clients hold value. They know the value or they wouldn’t have hired you. You know the value or you wouldn’t have quoted them a price. So don’t allow others to walk all over you just because it’s convenient for them and/or their bank account. You are worth more than that.

Remember: Your clients’ financial emergencies are not your financial emergency. Don’t allow them to become your emergency by undercutting your expectations for pay.

Your Turn!

Which of these five boundaries and expectations has been hardest for you as you have been building your business? Let me know in the comments! And, if you’re still having trouble establishing proper boundaries and expectations, join me in The Positive Productivity Pod for only $1! Click HERE for details!