1. Have clear boundaries.
In tangible ways, like how much time you spend together, how often, how many times, the method of communication, when you are unavailable, what topics are not appropriate, etc etc. Sounds simple but too many are not clear on their boundaries.
2. Create a legal agreement.
A contract needs to lay out the full terms of your working relationship. Everything from how often you see each other, the purpose of work, how the work will be delivered, how you will resolve conflict and how the working relationship will end (you absolutely want this – trust me). Grab a lawyer (I recommend Fiona from Base Legal – super affordable and totally gets small business) to do create one for you and be sure to give this to all of your clients.
3. Get to know them personally.
They may be your clients but they’re still human. You’re going to become friendly with them – maybe even friends (just be careful to keep the client relationship exactly that until the work has been done). Discover their interests, be curious about their lives. Learn each others boundaries, joke with each other, respect each other. Kindness wins, always.
1. Cross boundaries.
Both you or the client. Stick to those boundaries like crazy. Refer to them as much as you need to.
2. Avoid challenging conversations.
Starting to push the boundaries? Need to discuss something that your client might not like? Whatever you do, don’t avoid it. Avoiding just prolongs and escalates the pain. Which leads to an unhappy client, which leads to no more business for you. Ouch.
3. Be too rigid.
Sometimes we may have preferences to how we run our businesses. And that might not work 100% for your client. Be willing to be flexible on certain areas, without crossing boundaries or agreements (this should be addressed in the initial stages). An example might be how you communicate moving forward. Let’s say your client prefers to speak to you via phone, instead of your usual method of email. You might decide to make an exception for this client but also set firm boundaries regarding time and purpose of calls.