It was a big deal for her small business. Not just the renown of getting to design work for a client she’d been dreaming of working with, but the contract was also worth more money than she’d ever dealt with before. She was so excited about landing this client that she was determined to do whatever was needed to keep them happy.
Every customer matters so much to small business owners that we bend over backwards for them. We leap through hoops to make sure they're taken care of. I know one person who determined the customer was always right, no matter what they said or did. His boundary issue? That perspective ended up driving away all of his employees. No one wanted to work for him because they knew he never had their back with the customer (And sometimes, “customers be crazy”). That lack of ability to set boundaries destroyed his business as well.
We have to set boundaries everywhere! With employees, clients, vendors, spouses, friends, family, children, even organizations who thrive on volunteer work. If you don’t set boundaries, you’ll end up pulled in so many different directions that you can't truly be there when you're needed and perform at the level that you know you need to perform at.
For the past few years, I’ve overextended myself in the weeks leading up to the Grow Retreat. A new client would pop up and I’d add “one more task” or find myself taking on one more project for a current client. Fitting in one extra meeting because there appeared to be space on my calendar. What we found was that I would be so exhausted by the time the Retreat arrived, I struggled to perform as a host and as a speaker!
They can actually see my calendar. They can see if I'm adding stuff to my calendar and they can call me out on it, (although, they generally don't have to because just knowing they can is enough to keep me on track).
What happens if you decide to breach your boundaries?
If I decide to go against the boundaries that I've set to protect me (including my head space, my mental space, and my physical space), I could end up unable to perform at the level of quality that people need me to. It creates a ripple effect.
As you're building the new relationships, you have to have set clear expectations from the get go.
Let them know how you want to be communicated with and how far in advance you need them to get with you. If they have a project that needs to be done, give them information. Let them know what your normal turnaround is, and that every so often you might be able to work with them.
And don't break the expectations. If your work hours are 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and someone texts at 7:00, make the decision that it can wait till the morning. You’re welcome to text and let them know you will sort it out in the morning, but do NOT let yourself get sucked into the trap.
Most of all, don’t put yourself in a position where you start resenting the relationship because you’re constantly going above and beyond just to keep up the client relationship.
The moment the boundary is tested, restate it in a non-confrontational way. This is how you uphold your boundaries and hold to them.
© 2023 GROW DISRUPT