When was the last time a client called your cell phone after hours or sent you an email at 8pm and expected an answer by 9pm or didn’t pay you per your agreement? Or a vendor or coach took a week to answer an email?
If this is happening, it’s time to either set, or reaffirm, your boundaries.
What are boundaries?
Personally, I like to think of “boundaries” as “the standards around which I manage my business”. For example:
- What are the hours you’re *at* work and take phone calls?
- What are the terms under which you accept payment, and won’t work otherwise?
- What happens when clients make an appointment and then don’t show? Do you let them reschedule?
- What is an acceptable way for others to speak/write to you? If they’re frustrated, are you willing to be their punching bag? (Your answer better be NO! here.)
- You get the idea.
Boundaries aren’t negative. They are an extension of you and communicate to your clients how you’re willing to do business with them.
That said, on the flip side, as a client, you should have boundaries or standards as well. For example:
- What is an acceptable timeframe for your questions to be answered?
- Do you prefer email, telephone or both as the situation dictates?
- What is an acceptable way for others to speak/write to you? If they’re frustrated, are you willing to be their punching bag? (Your answer better be NO! here – and “yes”, this is a repeat of the above.)
- If you’re a client hiring someone, you’ll want to know both your and their boundaries before you start doing business together.
After all, if, as the client, your standard is such that all questions must be answered within 48 hours and your coach/vendor doesn’t answer emails on Fridays or Mondays, the relationship may not be a good fit for you.
As the coach/vendor, it’s your responsibility to tell your clients what they can expect, before they become clients, so they can make a decision which will save you both time and frustration down the line.
It’s important that you have a set of boundaries or standards which you adhere to in working with others – doing so makes it easy to decide if you want to work with someone (either as client or coach/vendor). After all, they either meet your standards and *get* your boundaries, or they don’t.
Setting boundaries and standards which are true to you make you authentic. And holding true to those boundaries and standards makes you a person, a business, of integrity.
My Request to You
As a coach/vendor: Ensure your client agreements accurately describe your turnaround times, any days you don’t work, payment terms, etc. so your clients can make informed decisions on working with you.
As a client: Ensure that the boundaries of your coaches and vendors are in sync with your wants and needs in order to get the most of each relationship.
In the end, it’s about respect for one another and the way we do business.© Copyright 2009 Sandra P. Martini