It is 9 p.m. on a Friday night and you get an alert - it's an urgent message from your highest paying client - they need you ASAP. You aren't home, your date night has been interrupted. Yes, you have your phone on, in case a family emergency arises, not this. They know you have read it - there is no way to disguise this fact. So, now what do you do?
You continue your date night without worry. But, How? Easy - you have established business practices that explain how you handle such issues.
Yes, establishing clear boundaries of your working hours, and after-hours contact is part of running a successful business. There are times where emergencies do come about in business, and you need to have an action plan in place. Just because you work virtually and at non-traditional hours, sometimes, does not mean you are on call.
When establishing a service-based business, such as a Virtual Assistant business, it is important to set boundaries. You can grow a business, get the work done, and still enjoy personal time. Being an entrepreneur offers the flexibility to make a schedule that works for you, outside of traditional 9 to 5 business hours, while maintaining professional courtesies to your clients. It is a win-win situation.
Setting boundaries shows you are a professional business owner.
Taking the time to map out your schedule is a vital strategy for your success. When you offer services, be it in packaging/bundling services; a la carte services; or time blocks, you need to be honest with yourself about how long tasks take, and how dedicated you can be to your schedule. Also, setting clear "office hours" where you answer calls and emails respects the need to communicate with your clients.
Providing clear working hours and how you handle after-hours and weekend needs should be defined clearly between your proposal and terms within your contract. Providing clarity from the onset of a collaborative relationship creates a mutual understanding and respect necessary for continuing long-term efforts. If a client attempts to reach you without clear boundaries can lead to misunderstanding and ineffective arrangements. They may think because you are a freelancer/entrepreneur that you are willing to work 24/7. However, part of being an entrepreneur is the benefit of making your business fit your needs.
If you need guidance on how to determine business hours or how to word your terms, reach out to me. I would be more than happy to help you work it out and provide examples for you to consider.
Make your hours truly yours and business hours for your clients' needs. Happy working!!