Starting your own business means you're going to be a CEO and your own boss! Finally, after years of working for somebody else, you get to call all the shots!
But will you? Sometimes we get sucked into work mode that we forget to set our own rules – for ourselves.
It's tough, especially in the beginning, you want to grow the business, you're motivated and excited! But where do you draw the line?
We're going to establish some business non-negotiables that will keep you sane!
These will not only set boundaries for you and your clients but also for some "you" time.
We, as women, tend to forget to take care of ourselves. We're go-getters, hard workers and ready to make things happen! But sometimes at our own expense.
1. Days Off
"The grind never stops" that's what the kids are saying these days right? Well let me tell you to- stop! You do not need to work every single day to be successful, nor do you need to work all day! Let's plan to work smarter, not harder.
You need to establish rest days when you will actually disconnect and take care of yourself. You can not pour from an empty glass, trust me. You need to have days that you write into your calendar and treat them like you would treat a meeting with a client. You wouldn't skip it, reschedule it or be late to it would you?
And I know in the beginning stages of your business you might be scared to lose clients because of it, but if a client can't understand that you have a day off, then they might not be a client you want to work with.
So pencil it in! Truly disconnect from work on these days so you can come back refreshed and recharged.
2. Working Hours
Now that you have established your days off, let's establish your business hours. You're not working a corporate 9-5 anymore, but what are your business hours. There is no reason that you need to be available sunup to sun down. Establish when you will be available to your clients.
Will you stop replying to emails by 8pm? 6pm? It's up to you, you run the business remember! Pick your schedule and stick to it! Sometimes it will mean putting your phone on "do not disturb" and leaving an email unresponded to until the morning. Trust me, nothing is more important than your sanity! And start these habits early, because they are extremely hard to break down the line.
3. Turnover Time
I know you want to be quick and accommodating for you clients, but also be realistic. If a project typically takes you one week to complete, agree to a two week turnover. This will give you some wiggle room to allow for days off, admin work and other projects. And my biggest tip is to stand by your agreed turnover time. Do not let a client dictate when you will have your work completed. If they've signed a contract (which we can talk about later) then they need to honor your turnover time. If it's an issue for them, then they might need to work with somebody else.
4. Pricing and Budgets
If you read my last blog on pricing, then you know all about your worth and how to price your services. But every once in awhile you will come across potential clients who can't afford you, and you might want to really work with them. This doesn't mean you have to kick them to the curb, but stand your ground. You still deserve to earn what you're worth. If you decide to change your rate because you really want to work with a client, consider payment plans or discounts, but tread with caution because you don't want to be taken advantage of. Use phrases like "I can make an exception this time" or "for this first project only", this will ensure that this will not be an ongoing occurrence. There will also be times when you just have to say "no". If you went to Target and couldn't afford the new Keurig, you wouldn't try to negotiate the price with the manager would you? So why let someone do that to you?
5. Trade for Exposure
In business there always needs to be an exchange from both parties. You as the service provider are providing, well, a service. And typically the client is providing monetary value. You might come across a couple different instances where you have an opportunity for "trade for exposure". This may come in the form of in-kind exchanges or sponsorships. This is typically for events. For example, I have a mentee who does videography. In the early days of her business she "sponsored" multiple events as trade for exposure. She would shoot the event and provide a recap video free of charge, in exchange the client would promote the video and credit her business to build awareness for her brand. This was a fair exchange because her work was being put in front of hundreds of people who may not have discovered her brand yet. This is definitely a great way to gain exposure for your business. If you are going to go this route, please get the exchange in writing! Your work is valuable, your time is valuable. If you are "trading", then you must receive something in exchange. In order to avoid any confusion, get the trade or partnership in writing.
These are just a couple of non-negotiables that will protect your time, sanity and worth! These are the steps you can take to not letting any client take advantage of you. We want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but also protect ourselves for the worst case scenario.