5 Essential Boundaries to Set with Clients.
At the start of your Virtual Assistant business, there are some essential boundaries to set with clients.
As a new VA, you are probably keen to appear willing and able. Being
enthusiastic means you want to answer every message and email from your clients
and do everything that you can to help.
However, if you don’t set some important boundaries for your business,
you run the risk of getting yourself into a negative client relationship.
By clarifying what your client boundaries are from the start of your relationship, you will make sure that you are setting expectations for how you work.
1. Your Availability
The whole point of being self-employed is having a LIFE around your
business, so this first boundary ensures life comes before business.
- Firstly, set your opening hours. Which days do you want to work and what hours will you be available?
- If you have children, will you work through their school holidays, or take them off?
- Are you happy to work in the evenings and over weekends, or would you prefer to keep these as your own time to rest and recharge?
- Are you happy to take phone calls ad hoc, or would you prefer clients to set an appointment so that you are prepared for the call?
2. Communication Preferences
Setting good boundaries with clients about how you will communicate with
them will ensure that you are both on the same page.
- How would you like to communicate with your clients – formal emails, or casual messaging on social media?
- How do your clients prefer to communicate? Ask them their preference and see if you have one in common. Stick to that.
- Are you happy to answer messages on social media out of hours? Be careful that it doesn’t get out of control as it may cause a knock-on effect with other boundaries too. Decide if you’re happy to reply out of hours in this way.
- Set expectations of when you will reply to your client’s communication. Autoresponder on emails, out of office reminders, or short thank you messages on social media with the time you will reply, all help manage their expectations.
Deciding from the word go what, when and how you will work helps your
clients feel comfortable (similar to children!).
- Set a turnaround time for work, from when they request it, to when you can provide it? This can reduce endless emails asking when it will be ready.
- Set clear deadlines with your client so that you are clear how much time you have to provide it. This allows you to manage your workload with multiple clients.
- Be clear on the services that you have agreed to provide. Stick to them, otherwise, you could find your client gives you every little task to help with (unless that is the service!)
Setting boundaries around money early in your relationship can reduce
things turning sour in the future.
- State your invoice terms in your contract so that they agree to them from the start.
- If they are late paying your invoice, follow up immediately with a friendly reminder that your invoice is overdue and don’t let it get out of control.
- If they are paying for a retainer package, invoice them upfront with a short payment window to ensure you are paid before the time has been worked.
- Always invoice on the same date every month to maintain consistency. If easier, ask your clients to set up a direct debit so that you know when you will get paid.
5. Saying No
“No is a complete sentence”.
Saying no can take some practice. As a VA, you have a helpful nature and
can find yourself saying yes a little too quickly sometimes, then regretting
- Say No to services that fall outside of your remit.
- Say No if the turnaround time is too short and will impact on your work/life balance.
- Say NO if you feel uncomfortable with the request your client has made – perhaps you don’t feel skilled enough, or you don’t understand what they want from you.
“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” ~ Brené Brown.
Setting clear boundaries with your clients from the very start of the
relationship can help to avoid ending up with difficult clients. If you let
boundaries slide, it can be hard to bring them back into force. So, if there is
an exception, make sure that you communicate that.
However, you will always come across clients who try and push those
boundaries, so you need to stand firm. Whenever you feel that they are slipping
out of control, it’s time to give your client a friendly reminder that you
don’t work in this way.
Preparing a list of your boundaries for new clients can be a simple way
to let them know how you like to work and can be something you ask them to
refer back to in the future if they need a little friendly reminder.
If you would like more help with how to structure your new Virtual Assistant business for success, then click here to check out my VA Mentor Programme where we cover all these questions and more!