March 2, 2015

Setting boundaries in your business - Part I

I think the most difficult thing I get faced with now that I have my own little business is setting boundaries. Boundaries to the time I spent weekly on my business, boundaries to the services I'm offering and boundaries to clients that tend to demand way too much from me. I've never been good at telling people 'no', but it gets better with aging and I really found out I had to work on this skill in order to have some spare time and family time left now that I have my own business.

I still have a ton of stuff to learn concerning this subject, but I thought it would be nice to share the things I've learned so far with you. After all, I got some pretty awesome information through other business bloggers myself along the way that really helped me focus on the parts of business I struggle with and how to make those easier for myself. So before I'm wasting a ton of your time, let's get to the point and share the things I've learned so far!

I sell most of my designs through Etsy and I get most demands for custom ordered designs through Etsy. Etsy gives you the opportunity to write down all the information you want to share on a product in the product details. Although I tried to be as specific as possible from the start, I keep learning here. 
People have a tendency not to read everything and start shooting questions your way that could have been answered easily when they would have taken the time to read the full product description. So I'm busy adding a first paragraph to all my info texts that says to read the full info before contacting me. Hopefully that will save me some time. 
Also, be specific about product details, what exactly does the client get from you for that price and what do you need from your client in order to fulfill their order.
And let your clients know how long an order takes on average and if you offer revision rounds with a custom order, be specific about how many rounds of revisions a client will have. I was not clear on this with a lot of my products, resulting in clients that kept wanting changes over and over again. Well, that's not their fault, right? It was me that needed to give a clearer picture on what bang they could expect for their buck.

With that I mean that I learned that it was better to focus on one or a couple of products and services that I can deliver well, than trying to please the whole market by offering every service you can think of. For example, I started out as a blogger on the Google Blogger platform myself. So when I started designing blog templates, I made Blogger templates and along the way I learned more and more specifics on how to do this. I know there are millions of people with a Wordpress blog, so if I learned to master those coding skills I would have an even bigger potential clientele. But you have to ask yourself: do you really want to? And is it really necessary? Right now my working schedule is already completely filled with the designs I offer now and I'm satisfied with the money I'm making, so I don't see the need at this point in time to spend tons of hours on learning Wordpress coding. I often get asked by people if I could design their blogs on Wordpress, Weebly, Tumblr etc. but in order to keep my sanity I'll stick to Blogger, so unfortunately I have to tell them no.

During the time I have been open for business now I've learned that it's not in my best interest and the client's interest to say yes to every possible order. Sometimes a client wants a design in a style that just isn't mine, or wants a custom made product that I know will take me a ton of time but is not the kind of product I can sell for a price that will cover those hours of work. In the beginning I didn't know any better and just took on the job. And I've regretted that decision a couple of times.
One example is a client that was in need of a logo ASAP. When a client starts using the words 'as soon as possible' in the first contact they have with you, please be aware. This particular client had actually asked another designer to do a logo but got no response back from the designer in the couple of days that followed. So the client turned to me and asked if I could do a very minimalistic logo ASAP because the products they were selling were already at the manufacturer and they had no logo for their business yet. That's totally nasty, I get that, but I shouldn't have made that my problem. The client probably started thinking about a logo a little too late in the whole process. But I agreed to do the logo anyway. And it just didn't feel right all along. The design wasn't a design I normally do, it was absolutely not my style, and after I had already delivered the final product to them (which they approved), they wanted all kinds of alterations to it. I should have paid attention to my intuition when I read that first message. Lesson learned, that's for sure ;-)

The big conclusion so far:  


I'm sure that along the way I will learn a lot more about setting boundaries in my business, so I'm pretty sure this will not be the last post I'm writing about it. That's why I felt comfortable enough to name it Part I. Take from my advice what resonates with you and if you've got any further tips on setting boundaries in business, please let us know in the comments below!

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