“How I set boundaries with clients”

Solo Episode

Show notes:

Inspired by my chat with Lucy Legal (coming up next week, don’t miss this one!) I’m talking about how I set boundaries with my clients this week. When it came to setting up my business I had very ingrained ideas about what was and wasn’t acceptable for clients as a service provider – and I’m happy to admit that I was completely wrong!

Listen in for my 2 top tips for communicating changes in ways of working with clients and let me know how you set clear boundaries and expectations in your business.





Hello. I’m Caroline Marshall, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner the podcast speaking to mums in business. You. I’ll be in conversation with some of the most inspiring women and mothers in enterprise about their journey, how they created their successful businesses alongside raising their children and what that looks like in work and family life.

Caroline [00:00:05]:

Hello, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner I’m your host, Caroline Marshall. Thank you for joining me today. I am doing a mini episode on client boundaries and this is inspired by my chat with Lucy Legal because she really got me thinking and I wanted to share a little bit about how I was wrong about how you can set client boundaries in your business when I first started Upsource. And it also comes from I know this is something that a lot of mums, if they have had a business before they became a mum and then suddenly they’ve got and they want to keep their clients and come back to work and they’ve got to change their working hours.

Caroline [00:01:06]:

This can be quite scary process to go through because I did have a fellow VA reach out to me like six months ago about this because she decided she needed to go down to four days. Because we came from a similar background where we both came from the same agency, where it was basically made quite clear we couldn’t support clients on less than five days per week, which also impacted my return to work. They didn’t want me to be around less than Monday to Friday. So we both came had been kind of had that drilled into us. So for both of us, it seemed quite scary to do this. And I’m going to be honest, it was partly why I went down the agency model because I thought, well, none of my clients will want to come back if I only want to work Monday to Wednesday at first or Tuesday to Thursday. And I will happily admit I was wrong about that. And I also think I may have kind of used it as an excuse to grow the agency model.

Caroline [00:02:01]:

I did really want to go down that route. So it all worked out for the best that I was wrong about that. But I know this might be a process that if you are a service based business owner and you worked one way before you had kids or even one way when you had one child and then it’s all changed. When you’ve got two or your kids go to school, for example, and you suddenly realise the school that you’ve got to leave at 2:30 to collect your kids from school. So it can be a bit of a process if you need to communicate changing hours. Not for all services, but I think this is particularly relevant for VAs, especially if you’re providing sort of things like inbox and diary management support. In an ideal world, we could be freelancers that all work to our own schedules. It’s not quite the case when you are supporting other people with their businesses.

Caroline [00:02:46]:

So like I said, happy to admit I was wrong and why I felt this way. And I used it as a reason to start the agency. So I’m really pleased to say we are now a team that work different hours. So some of our team are Monday to Friday. Some clients really do want that Monday to Friday cover. So I will only put VAs forward for that. But some of our VAs work school hours, some of our VAs are Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday and school hours within that. And I will always happily pitch it to the clients we work with.

Caroline [00:03:19]:

And I know there’ll be some people out there that will say, no, set your working hours, you tell the clients and then it’s on them if they want to work with you. And I completely agree with that. And if you’re strong enough to do that, go for it. I think that’s fantastic. But the reality is sometimes you might have clients that come along and you really want them and you kind of have to think, okay, what are the benefits of me working these hours to them? And I mentioned this one time at a work day I was on and someone mentioned it might not be honest, which kind of did kind of offend me, I can’t lie. But I do think sometimes people, like I have been taught this the way people are, they want to know how things are going to work for them. And especially if they’re paying a service provider, they want to know what’s the benefit of working with you if you’re going to be working on a different hour structure. So I have no qualms in saying this will benefit you if so and so works these hours.

Caroline [00:04:15]:

Because and I’ve also suggested trials if a VA was five days per week and wants to change their working hours. I’ve been like, let’s trial with this for a month and then speak to each other at the end and see how it goes. I think that’s a good thing to do. Sometimes it gives them a little bit of power and an option to give you honest feedback about how they’ve done it. And the good news is I’ve never had bad feedback when someone has wanted to reduce their hours because their VA has well, not reduced their hours, just changed their working hours because their VA has been happy they’ve got the work done. So hopefully that gives you confidence as well. But I just want to give you some tools that I use, which I know isn’t for everyone, as we’ve discovered. Like some people will say, just tell the clients your working hours and either they want it or they don’t.

Caroline [00:04:59]:

We’ve all got to work. I appreciate that. So sometimes a little trick I use is what are the benefits to the client and suggesting a trial. And they’ve worked in our cases and I’ve not had clients that have come back saying they are unhappy with that. So thank you, Lucy Legal for sharing your thoughts with us on client boundaries. I feel it’s really important. And even if you do want to work Monday to Friday, nine to five, because that’s your schedule, that’s how you like to work, you’ve still got to ensure you keep within those boundaries and aren’t working evenings and work weekends client facing.

Caroline [00:05:32]:

So I think anyone listening to these, these are some good things you can put in the beginning to make it clear what your hours you’re working and what you’re willing to do. Client facing with your clients. There’s always exceptions to the rule, but I hope that’s helpful.


Thank you so much for listening to Bump to Business Owner. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Please do rate, review, follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening. It really helps us to connect with more mums and business owners. You can DM me at Bump to Business Owner on Instagram and I’ll be back next week.