How to Set Boundaries With Clients

Now that I am working again for several clients in a service based business, I am reminded of my favorite word: BOUNDARIES.

My client asked me today, "Do business cards come with what I have paid already for?" I simply paused and replied, "I am not sure, let's pull out your contract to confirm that." I went to her file in my google drive, where all of her documents are stored, and confirmed that her contract did not include this.

She had a very disappointed look on her face.

In that moment I had a choice:

1. Give in to my people pleaser mentality and say "Ehh, I'll throw it in. Don't worry about it!" Then, work for an additional 3-4 hours for FREE.


2. Gently let her know that "unfortunately, the current contract doesn't include business cards, and that would be billed as an additional service." I told her I'd be happy to get her a proposal for the design. This would make me additional money over and above what I was already getting paid.

This choice- in this quick moment, can MAKE or BREAK your business.

Rule #1: Boundaries=Self Worth

Think about the long term consequences of this decision: If you make an exception for this ONE client only ONE time, it will continue to be expected that you will go "above and beyond" for ALL of your clients. While this sounds good in theory, wouldn't you rather have clients that value your time, and want to pay you for it?

The boundaries you set with others are directly tied to how much you value yourself.

Read that again.

If you have high self worth, you will not allow people to cross boundaries.

So....If you go "above and beyond", it becomes apparent to your clients that YOU do not value YOUR time. Why should THEY?

All relationships should give value both ways. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of. This is for professional and personal relationships alike. If the relationship is one sided, it will cause tension or frustration. You do not want your business to be ran from a place of tension and frustration with your clients. See the section about being your own biggest cheerleader in my last blog post.

Long story short, you better love yourself- like, A LOT if you want to be a business owner. This will help you to feel more confident about setting boundaries.

Rule #2: Set Expectations

Okay, so you have step 1 down. You love yourself and you aren't afraid of saying "NO". Congrats! Many business women never make it to Rule #2!

Variation of scenario earlier mentioned:

You go to pull out the contract you have with your client, and you are not sure if the business card design is included or not? What about printing? Are you responsible for that, or is the client? Your contract says "all design for XYZ Company from date #1 to date#2."

Your contract should be detailed!! Your outline of services section of your contract should act as a play by play of what is expected from both parties in what timeframes.

Here is an example from my contract. Notice, anything that the client is responsible for is laid out?

Outline of Services and Deadlines (“SERVICES”)

  • Month 1:

  • Social Strategy- Initial in month 1 only

  • Build and optimize platforms - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

  • Client to give login information to Her Space

  • Social content strategy to create buzz

  • Defining Monthly Focus

  • Defining Weekly Mapping

  • Monthly newsletter - Create Templates and themes we will use

  • Client to give Her Space login information to constant contact

  • Check and respond to messages and comments on social

  • We will work out a response policy, if client wants to be involved

  • Design Business Cards

  • Client to Print the Design with their printer of choice

  • Website Planning

  • Web Tree-Navigation of the Website

  • 3 Client Edits included

  • Outline of copy for the website

  • Includes Major Topics and Talking Points

  • 3 Client Edits Included

  • Online course- Client to provide outline and be prepare to be on camera for a half day shoot per module

  • Record Videos for module 1

  • Edit Videos for module 1

  • Host videos module 1

This is only for 1 month!! My contracts are typically 12 months. Everything is very detailed and thought out.

If there are any changes that need to be made or work added, I always make an addendum to the contract. This ensures everyone is on the same page, and leaves little room for confusion.

Rule #3: Have Integrity

None of the above will matter if you don't do what you say you are going to do. Be realistic about how much work you are wanting to get done in the given time-frame. If you can't get it all done, you are not upholding your side of the agreement.

If you get half way through the month, and you have only finished a quarter of the work, re-evaluate your contract, and write an addendum. Communication is key. Your client most likely will not be upset as long as you are showing progress. Just be up front and honest.

Your estimations on how long projects will take will improve over time. Don't sweat it. Just do your best and communicate. You will be fine.

Remember, boundaries are always tough, but it is just like a muscle you have to work-out regularly in order for it to get strong! It will get easier, the more you exercise it!



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