How to Set Boundaries in your Service Based Business To Get What You’re Worth
Favors within your business can come in many different scenarios.
When I started as an independent graphic designer it was ok for me to do freebies here and there to gain my clientele.
When you’re just starting out, you want to create a great portfolio for others to see and you want customers to bring you other customers by word of mouth. Offering up services for little to nothing and doing a few favors can help you do this quickly. Once you’ve gained reputable respect, your business has started to flow, and you’ve got outstanding testimonials to go alongside your work, it’s time to decrease all favors and freebies.
As a graphic designer working from home, I’m always on the computer or my computer is up and running. I think because clients and even family/friends know this, it’s easy for them to contact me and ask me to do something real quick.
You’ll always have friends and family who’ll ask for favors. As for clients, if it’s a minor task to them, they’ll automatically think there’s no cost or the cost won’t be much. What they all may not understand is that you have a set schedule, set services and even if it’s a question they have, time with you needs to be booked. So For these reasons, boundaries need to be set.
I’ll talk about setting business hours later but right now let’s talk about money and your worth.
I use to be the person who couldn’t say no and was doing favors and didn’t even realize it. For instance... allowing someone to pick my brain for more than 30 minutes, making quick web updates for no fee, taking rush orders with no fee, providing services that aren’t even in my service menu list, etc.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Small tasks can end up turning into bigger tasks. Taking on too much can be overwhelming, especially if your business is ran by you alone. Everyone should understand your business is what you do to provide for yourself and perhaps your family too. If they’re not ready to pay you, they may not be the right customer for you. If I’m getting on the computer to do any kind of work these days, there’s going to be a fee. Simple as that.
At some point in your business you realize your worth. Some entrepreneurs start off knowing in the beginning. Some, find out later than others and that’s ok. But when you do realize your worth, OWN IT!
Don’t be scared to quote someone on how much your services are. If a person can’t pay what you ask for, just know they aren’t for you, they are not your “dream clients” or someone you should be doing business with.
It’s also okay to say “NO” sometimes and turn down a client. You are the owner of your business and you know when a potential client or project doesn’t feel right for you. 9 times out of 10 when you undersell yourself or give out a favor that customer is going to keep coming back for favors, get on your nerves, or you’ll become overwhelmed and mad at yourself for doing work that you know you should have gotten more money for.
Do your research on what others that do the same as you, charge. Figure out what your rate should be depending on if you’re new to the field, an expert, or in between.
Once you do that, stick to your prices. Don’t let anyone talk you down unless they have something great to offer in your eyes. Sometime’s we get caught up on taking jobs because we don’t want to turn down money at all and then later find out it wasn’t worth the headache.
Here’s a few tips:
1. List your start off prices and services on your website (like $250 & Up). Be clear about what you offer. I use to try to do everything, but now my services are clear. If they aren’t on my list, I don’t provide it. I put together what top services have worked for me, brought in the most income, and cut out the services that were more of a hassle. Doing this works for me and I no longer feel like I’m doing too much. Customers are less likely to try to get over on you if your prices are shown clear as day on your website.
2. Provide free consultations that are 15-20 minutes long. After that charge them a fee for sessions if the’d like to talk to you more about a particular topic.
3. Place a booking app on your website for customers to choose a time to talk to you. Be sure to take payments before the call.
4. Set a Quota for yourself. I won’t take on more than 4 projects at a time or If I become booked for the month, customers have to book me for the next month or wait until slots are available.
5. Practice saying “No” to people. Start off with family/friends if you have to, especially if you don’t have the time or cash flow like that. Come up with lines to turn down customers in a nice way. Such as, I’m not taking clients at this time but I can refer you to a list of others who can probably help. Or whatever the case, just be honest (in a nice way).
6. If it’s hard to say a complete No to family and friends, offer them a discount or limit the amount of favors you give. I may do something for free for a person once and if they come back again they have to pay something.
6. Offer payment plans for some of your services. This will make clients feel like they have options. Never give a customer a product or entire service without receiving the balance or full payment.
7. Set working hours and talk hours. Show the hours on your website. Provide a turnover time that works for you and set an additional fee for rush request.
P.S. It’s always okay to give discounts or incentives every now and then, especially to those who have brought you more clients/customers or keep coming back to you and don’t mind paying you what you ask. Even those who may not have purchased anything from you but they are always reposting your post on social media or tagging you for others to check out, etc.