Do you have good boundaries in your business?
I’m sure you might be wondering what that’s got to do with pricing?! But actually, boundaries are incredibly important when it comes to pricing and it makes such a difference if you've got really good, solid, boundaries in place.
Now, there's a thought that structure can stifle your creativity, but, I think that if you set your boundaries well and say, "this is the time that I'm doing such and such and this is the time that I'm doing such and such", it can really free you up creatively to work on the things that you know you're good at and to spend other time working on things that you are not so good at or that you find hard or boring.
I think that boundaries over the last two years have just become totally, totally mixed and there's just no cut-off between work and life.
Working at home boundaries - We have all been working at home, and I think it's really important to really think about how you make that boundary between work and home.
Life boundaries - These are boundaries around when you work. School hours, weekdays, weekends, evenings whatever works for you. It doesn't have to be nine to five, but be conscious about it. Think about when you say "Oh, I'll just pick up the computer”, “I'll leave the computer, I want to pick up the kids, and then I'll be home again." Try really hard to say, "Actually, do I need to do that? Is that when I am working?" Or do you say, "Well on a Thursday evening I don't work and on a Friday evening, I don't work." Or some evenings, you just say, "Do you know what? I just don't want to do anything." But be conscious about it. When are you working? And when are you not working? And where are the spaces for you not to work, because working all the time absolutely totally ruins your productivity. If you've never read the book "Do Less" by Kate Northrup, I highly recommend it. She talks a lot about the cycles - women's cycles and menstrual cycles and the moon and all of that sort of stuff. But she also talks a lot about doing less makes you more productive. It’s really important that you go off, have a day where you do something completely different. Go for a walk, go meet a friend, you do something, even if you think you haven't got time. You’ll find then that it is incredible how quickly you can get other stuff done when you've had a break. I know it's tempting a lot of the time to think, "I've got so much to do, I've got so much do, I've got so much to do” and actually you never really take a break. Having a week off to go and visit a friend or spending some time with your children, where you're not thinking about work all the time actually can really make a big difference to how productive you are when you get back. So be really clear about that.
Interruption boundaries - The other kind of life boundary is around working from home and being interrupted. Like many, I work at home. My children are fortunately not here, most of the time they're at school. I have a space where I can work, it is our spare bedroom, but I do have a space where I can work. My husband also works at home and he doesn't assume that I'm going to do all the jobs or I'm the one answering the door every time. Friends know that I work so they don't come around for coffee. We arrange it. And that's how it works. If you are in a situation where that's not happening what can you do to help with the boundaries? Can you close the door? Can you say, "I don't come out until five o'clock." Can you say, "I'll come out for half an hour when you come home from school." Sit down and talk to your partner and say, "Do you know what? Actually I can't be doing all of these things”. Maybe you need to find yourself a coworking space and or take yourself off to a cafe if will help you. I think it's so easy when we get interrupted every two minutes to not do that.
Batching - I think batching up your work is a really, really important part of all of this stuff. I find it much easier to decide that on a day I am recording a video, I'll also do an Instagram live, I will do a reel. I've got my makeup on. I'm ready to go. And I'll do it on a day where I know that that's useful. So batch up your work, do several podcast episodes, write two blogs, write all your emails for the week, do all your social media for the week. It suddenly makes life just a little bit easier because you're focused on that one thing and it kind of means that you are not in and out of things because it takes us quite a long time to switch between things.
Working boundaries – Do you take meetings any day of the week or do you have boundaries? My meeting boundary is that I'm only available ten till four, three days a week. And even then I keep quite a close eye on my diary and when my diary has got too full I need to make sure that I actually cut that off so that I'm not having any more meetings that day. I keep quite a close track of when people have booked in clients and decide that if say, a Tuesday is turning into a really busy day and I know I will be back to back all day so on Wednesday I won't do any calls so I can actually do some work, because otherwise, you find it's so disruptive to your day that actually you can never get stuff done. So think about what boundaries you need to have in place around your working time. I spend Mondays doing all my content. I tend to do all my content on a Monday and I have Fridays as either a day off or as an admin day. So I don't do any client work or take any client calls on those days. I have to be more flexible in half term, but that is about deciding what works best for me and you need to decide what works for you. Even if you aren’t working around half terms, think about when are you most creative? Do you do all your best work before 12 o'clock? Then don't do morning client calls. I often try to take mine in the afternoon. I'm much better in the morning. So much more productive, first thing in the morning. So have a think about whether that works for you.
Client boundaries - These are some of the hardest ones, but it is important to share your client boundaries such as telling new clients your working times. So when you take on a new client you are working Monday to Thursday, nine till three – tell them. What your turnaround times are, you know do you get back to somebody in 24 hours? Do you get somebody in 48 hours? What's your kind of agreement about how quickly you'll get back to people. People expect a response quickly. So think about how you kind of manage that expectation and also things like your preferred communication channel. Do you prefer WhatsApp? Do you prefer Slack? Do you prefer email? What is that? I had a client the other weekend who asked if I could do some stuff and I had to ask them not to WhatsApp me at the weekend. I said, I'm really sorry, but I am with my family and I can't give you the attention it needs until Monday. And first thing Monday morning, we dealt with it. It was fine. I was very tempted to say yes to that client, but actually, I had to say, you know what? I can't deal with this till Monday even though I knew it was pretty urgent. So have a real think about what those kinds of general client boundaries are and that also you need to reinforce them, right? If a client messages me at the weekend because they're stressed and worried about their numbers, that isn't a cue for me to drop everything and do it. And if you do need to drop everything and do it you need to think about whether you A: want to keep that client and B: want to charge for weekends or whether you want to have some support backup that will deal with that issue at the weekend, if you need it. It's really important to have those boundaries because then you can kind of reinforce them. Clients can push your boundary, they don't even do it consciously sometimes, they just do it, but if they don’t know your boundaries to start with then they think, oh why was I not allowed to do that? So actually, if you tell them from the start, then that's the power to you. We all just keep pushing until we get what we want either deliberately or not.
Scope creep boundaries - The last thing we're going to talk about is what we call scope creep. This is where you have a project and you take on a piece of work and it all sounds great and then suddenly you are doing 25 other things. This is where the boundaries around a project are really important and why I talk a lot about packaging and all of that sort of thing. It's looking at what the project has in it. So make sure you are really clear about what's in a project scope. What's in, and what's out, just as importantly! Once you have this scope then you can reinforce that nicely when they overstep. If you are a copywriter and you're writing something, how many revisions will you have? If you are somebody who creates logos how many choices will you give at the beginning as a fixed part of the cost? I think backward and forwards with the client is really time-consuming. If you do a lot of revisions of things, it's massively, massively time-consuming for you. So again, think about what that kind of looks like, and when you are thinking about packaging your services think "Right, okay, well, if I do a branding thing, it's this, this, and this," what are the things that make it take a lot longer? When you are doing a project, think about, "Right, well, what made that one go a bit pear-shaped? You know, that one ended up taking me twice as long as I thought it was going to. What happened?" Was it the client was asking you for things that they shouldn't be, and you didn't reinforce that by going back and saying, “I'm really sorry, that's not included. I will do that this one time. But next time that will be charged”. You don't have to be forceful about it. You just go, look, this is what we agreed. And we are now outside of that and I need to charge you extra for that. It's about being quite firm without being aggressive or rude or anything like that.
Let me know what boundaries you have in place. Are you good at them? I love a boundary and I would say I'm reasonable at it because I've got kids and I don't work well in the evenings. Once I have picked up my children from school I give my time over to them and my energy to them because actually, I'm not great in the evenings, and by eight o'clock, I'm kind of done. So have a think about what really works for you in your business and how you can make that work better and how you can enforce it. Do you like taking the dog for a walk every day? Can you meet a friend to make that happen? I meet a friend every week for a walk and that makes a massive difference to the fact that I go. The boundaries I have in place allow that to happen. Have a think about what you can do to reinforce your boundaries.
If you're interested in a bit more about this, get on the waiting list for my Growth Masterclass. We talk a lot about boundaries in that class and all sorts of other stuff about how you can grow your business. Even if you don't want to be a six-figure or seven-figure, and all that horrible word, business - get on the waitlist and learn more about growing your business in more ways than financially.