Today I want to talk about where to draw the line when it comes to your clients.
When we first start out in business, we’re eager to get our first sales. We love to over deliver and create huge value for our clients, because we’re so grateful to have them. We likely add them as Facebook friends, give them our phone numbers, or offer to meet up over coffee to work together.
But is it sensible to allow our clients open access to our lives and our time? Let’s take a look...
First up is the safety element. Remember you don’t actually know your client very well (and they don’t know you either). It’s a very small risk, but the risk is still there - is its sensible to give your personal information, like your home address, to a stranger?
I know quite a few people who offer in-person services at home - intensive coaching days, or beauty treatments, for example. For me personally, I prefer not to have people know my home address. Anyway, my work is online so I can be location independent, but safety should be something you consider if you do offer in-person services.
Clients & Friends
Especially when we work in a transformational role with our clients - as teachers, consultants, or coaches - we build a personal bond with the client. It’s natural to become friendly and want to connect on social media accounts, or even meet up in person.
I choose to keep my personal social media accounts private and connect with clients and potential clients via my business accounts. Firstly, my personal friends aren’t necessarily interested in my work at Living Rosy since not all of them are ideal clients - I don’t want to spam them with all my business updates. Secondly, I want to be able to express my own views - political views for example - that could turn off an otherwise ideal client if she has opposing political opinions.
It’s also important to respect the client-service provider relationship. Your client is paying you for your work, and they deserve to have your full professional attention and impartiality. Be informal and relaxed, yes, but don’t let their sessions descend into a friendly chat - you’re wasting their paid time.
Friendships and business can sometimes get confused. I prefer not to work with anyone I know closely - it can be awkward for them to divulge important details if I know the others involved. It can feel strange to take payment from close friends as well. Similarly, if you get too close to a client and something goes wrong financially, it may be harder to discuss payment with them.
Scaling Your Business
As conscientious entrepreneurs, we want to give the best service possible to our clients. It’s normal when we first start out to offer unlimited everything - free phone calls, meet ups, unlimited email Q&A - all of it. That’s great when you have just a handful of clients, but what about when your books are full?
Consider the scalability of your business model - how many hours are you spending with each client? Are you being paid for all of them? If not, take a look at what your average earnings are per hour you help each client - you might be surprised how much time you’re letting certain people take up for free! This is time that you could be using on another paying client, or even taking off from work to enjoy your freedom lifestyle. Time is your only finite resource - don’t give it away for free.
It’s important to be clear on what you want from your life before you decide on your business model. How much money do you need to earn and how many hours do you choose to work? If you need to have ten clients at a time, but you give each of them even half a day a week - you can see how your own personal time can quickly get crowded out.
How much will it cost?
Finally, what contact options are you willing to provide clients, and at what cost? For example, you may want to have an office line for people to call you on. But if you need to work on running your business, you can’t sit around waiting to answer a phone all day. Can your business currently handle employing someone to do that? What if your clients are global - will you offer a 24/7 service?
Remember that time equals money. Even if you aren’t hiring someone, your hourly rate applies to you spending your time on this too.
So how do we make this all work?
As with anything in business, you need to step into a leadership role as CEO. Get total clarity on what you need from your business in terms of money and time, and what your business needs to offer to receive that.
Understand the implications of offering various types of access to your clients. Make a firm decision as to what you will and will not offer in your business.
Finally, set clear boundaries with your clients. Let them know how and when they can contact you, and what sort of turnaround time (if any) you will offer. When you are upfront and clear with them from the start (this is great to have in your contracts), there is no misunderstanding down the line.
How do you structure your client’s access? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know!