When you start out as a virtual assistant, one of the hardest parts can be determining how you want to run your business and serve your clients. Consistently, perhaps the BIGGEST mistake new virtual assistants make is to not set boundaries with their clients from the beginning. And I get it, because I did it too. We get into this business because we want to serve people, to help people. But without boundaries, that service will burn you out and that’s somewhere that NONE of us want to be. Today, I want to share a few easy ways to set boundaries from the start with your clients so you don’t make this mistake, too!
Have a contract.
Seriously, have a contract. I know so many people who say they don’t need one yet or they’re not official… or that they’re just helping a friend. But here’s the thing: a contract protects you and sets expectations from the start of your working relationship. I’m not a legal expert, so I won’t provide examples, but you can definitely find some great templates at The Legal Paige. At the end of the day, you just need something that both you and your client agree to that outlines your payment policies, work hour policies, and how to end your relationship if it’s needed. Lay it out clearly!
Make your office hours clear.
Part of working from home and running your own business is the freedom that you now have! And that’s AMAZING. Take those mental health days, go on those field trips, take a nap. Build the business you want. But in terms of your clients, make sure that you set office hours from the start and follow them. Share them in your email signature, add them to your contract if you want, and make sure you make it clear when you’re going out of office. The more clear you are about when you’re available, the better.
There’s SO many ways to communicate with your clients: Slack, Voxer, Trello, Asana… the list goes on and on. Some of them are on the computer and others on your phone. If you’re like me, seeing notifications pop up makes you feel like you have to answer right away. So, turn off the notifications and only check the apps during your office hours. If I’m being honest, this is still one I’m working on… but, I promise that you’ll feel better and your clients will respect you more. There is NOTHING that you do that is urgent enough to need to interrupt dinner or time with your kids (again, talking to myself here too!).
Setting boundaries is SO, SO hard. But at the end of the day, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your business. Being a servant at heart is wonderful – but it can also be incredibly draining if you aren’t preparing yourself the right way. A lack of boundaries out of a desire to better serve clients is the biggest mistake new virtual assistants make, but I hope with these few tips, you’ll be able to better set yourself up for success!!
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