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Setting boundaries as a business owner is critical to keeping your time free. However, many small business owners struggle with this, especially when they’re new.
Let’s take a step back and explore the cause of the issue so that we can then solve it (and scale your business at the same time).
We’re taught from a young age to keep flexible boundaries with other people. We need to keep our boundaries flexible with relatives, even if we don’t like them. We keep flexible boundaries with teachers and administrators at school because they hold the keys to our future and our grades. When we enter our careers, we feel the same pressure to hold flexible boundaries at work with clients, colleagues, or an overbearing boss.
If our boundaries are too rigid, we might lose our job and our livelihood. As a result, we don’t learn to flex our boundary muscles in our work.
What’s more, the companies we work for often set boundaries for us, whether or not they’re healthy, in the form of open business hours or systemically scheduled meetings.
It’s no wonder that when we start our businesses we don’t realize we need to set firm boundaries with our clients or customers. This became apparent when one of my clients told me she felt she didn’t have time to work on her own business because of how much she was working for her clients. She went on to say that recently a client called on a Saturday with an ’emergency.’ She was annoyed, but there were no boundaries set and the client had way too much access to her.
So how do we set firm boundaries with clients and customers while also scaling the business?
The first line of defense lies in automation. Automation is the First Pillar of Business Scaling™. It means making money in your sleep while tech handles your business for you. That’s not to say that you don’t want to work on your business, but we all need a healthy work-life balance. Automation enables us to work the parts of the business that we love and release the things that we don’t like.
Scaling often means outsourcing. But with automation, we can outsource to technology to do the work for us for cheap or for free. And that, my dear, is the dream.
So how can we automate a business in order to create better boundaries with clients and customers?
Use a scheduling app.
Let’s review my client’s situation. My client is receiving calls on Saturdays from her client. The reason her client can do this is that, at some point, she decided she wants her clients to feel special — like they have dedicated access to her. If that were not the case, she would never have given them her phone number. But it’s causing problems.
This ‘dedicated access’ can still be accomplished through automation. What we decided to do was set up a dedicated Calendly scheduling page for her clients. To them, it seemed they had unfettered access to her. They could open the app and schedule on whatever day or time of their choosing.
On the back end, things were different. My client only allowed meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. By being available to her clients only during certain business hours, the rest of her time was truly hers.
The clients felt happy. They felt they had a much clearer and more dedicated connection with my client. But she ultimately was the one that benefited because her time and energy were now protected so she could work on growing her business.
Automated email sequences.
Another way to use automation in order to set boundaries with clients and customers is through email sequences. You can put all of the needs that a new client typically has in an email sequence or automated message series. This can be done using software like MailChimp or social media bots.
In addition to my email welcome series for newsletter subscribers, I also use an app called Coach Accountable for my private 1:1 clients to better deliver documents, session notes, and scheduling. Both can send an automated series when a new client or customer is onboarded.
As a result, the client or customer receives everything that they need and all of their questions are answered without you having to lift a finger.
My onboarding sequence for clients actually runs for two weeks. That’s two weeks of emails and documents that the system handles which I would have had to manually send to them. That is a whole lot of time saved and healthy boundaries set. They feel cared for and they don’t need to wait for me to receive answers.
So what about you? What kind of boundaries do you need to set in your business? And how could automation be a solution to that? I’d love to hear from you.