How do you communicate mutual expectations clearly? How do you let people know what you can do and what you cannot do, so that they can decide if your business is a good fit for their needs?
Here is the fifth video in the 10 part Business Boundaries series on Clear Disclosures …
Here is the pdf guide mentioned in the video and below is the full transcript:
Day 5: Clear Disclosures Today, day 5, we’re going to talk about “Clear disclosures of your boundaries.” If you are attracting people in your life, in your personal life, in your business life you are violating boundaries over and over again. It’s because they probably don’t know what your boundaries are? If they knew those were your boundaries, a fairly large percentage of those people wouldn’t be in your life. Now, this is a scary thing and we are going to talk a little bit more [laughs] about it as time goes on. It is very important that you take responsibility for disclosing your boundaries to people so they can choose whether or not they want to opt in to do business with u, to be in a relationship with you. You have certain parameters, certain boundaries that you’ve been working on that work for you to show up to do your best work.
These are the boundaries you are going to have with clients, with customers, with your staff, with your vendors, whether your business partners, everything. There can be different boundaries for different people, but this is the truth, this is who you are, just what you need for you to show up and do your best work and for you to love it. It’s incredibly important to communicate those boundaries as clear early as possible so that people out there can choose to opt in or opt out. How do you actually communicate those boundaries? It depends on what the boundary is. Some of them you’re going to communicate I recommend in a very explicit way and some of them will be implicit boundaries.
Explicit boundaries, I recommend that on your website, in your marketing materials, it depends on how you do business and how you are going to actually phrase it. You expressly say these boundaries so people can choose whether or not they want to do business with you or be an employee or be a business partner with you. You want to say things like, if you always want to meet with clients in person or if you never want to meet with clients in person, if you answer the phone 24 hours a day or you never answer the phone. If you want to do everything by email, if you hate doing anything by email, never going to have emails as part of your coaching program for example. If you have any boundaries that can be stated in an explicit way, you want to do so, to give people the opportunity to opt in or opt out. Some of the things that can be listed like you are a good candidate and then you are not a good candidate for this program.
You can just have bullet points right there. Some things are more implicit, what I mean there is…Let me give u a very vague example in a sense of very implicit, my website has purple on it, a lot of pictures of hiking and pictures of my daughter. These are things that are implicit communications that I am a mother, that I love the outdoors, the color purple has all kinds of connotations, it clearly states that I’m a woman, I have pictures of exactly how I look even without makeup, they are right there. OK, it’s the fact that I have links to my personal social media profiles so people can see the other pictures and other information about my daily life. If someone doesn’t want to do business with a woman, if someone doesn’t want to do business with a mom or a parent who has responsibilities besides this business and other priorities, if someone doesn’t want to do business with someone who has hobbies or whatever, I’m not the right person for them.
The specific language you choose too, communicates more than what you just said. Let me give you another example, this is actually from a business that I had a while ago, back when I first started my own law firm, very long ago. I did the state planning, I wanted to service in a state planning practice that serviced the focus really on a younger clientele who was not being served very well. There was a number of things that I did. One thing that I did was be very specific about choosing the photos on my website, like all the stock photography. I picked stock photography that I wanted to communicate a sample of the kinds of clients that I wanted to have.
I picked photography that had older people as well as younger people, that had two parents with children, that had people with different ethnicities, that had one parent with children, that had couples who were opposite gender and couples who were same gender. Trying to really have a spectrum of how people could at least appear to look. The other thing that I do is be really specific about the language. I didn’t say, “You and your spouse,” I said, “You and your spouse or partner,” because this is in fact years ago where there was no same‑sex marriage, domestic partners was the best you could do Here in California we had domestic partners and marriage with spouses, I was very careful in using that language. I didn’t say…I don’t think anywhere on my page, “Hey, I support couples of the same sex being together, ” or “Hey, I support same‑sex marriage,” anything like that because I didn’t have to expressly say that, it was there everywhere.
If someone wanted to be my client, he was totally uncomfortable with that, they probably wouldn’t have signed up. On the flip side, I had a large number of clients who definitely was looking for someone who was cool with that. Even here in the Silicon Valley apparently that was unusual which boggles my mind. I didn’t have to expressly say it because it was everywhere. You are going to be able to do both of those and above a lot of your boundaries and a lot of the ways that you are different, you can communicate them both by expressly saying stuff and then by implicitly the way your website is designed, what stock photos you use? What language you use to communicate those boundaries and those expectations with your people?
Another set of boundaries that I highly recommend communicating in an express, way are those boundaries about pricing. If it’s all possible I recommend having your prices on your website. If you have customized services such that it’s not that your services always cost $500 or $5,000 or whatever, if you always get pressed for proposals, I highly recommend having a range on your site. That helps people know if they can show up or not. If the range is so gigantic it would be meaningless, you may be able to disclose what the deposit generally is. The idea is you want people to know as early as possible in the process what price range you are talking about. Here’s the thing, is that if someone comes to me and says, “I want you to do a start up plan for me,” I have no pricing on my site, they maybe in their head be thinking that a start‑up plan would cost $500, they don’t have any more money than that, that’s what they saved up.
It’s going to be this embarrassing bizarre conversation to know that it costs two grand which is what it does today, it might cost more depending on what’s your actual investment above change, [laughs] rearrange things. That’s the idea, they didn’t know how much general range we are talking about and other parameters that go with your pricing. If you have a very specific rules like perhaps you have people sign up for one‑day sessions with you. They have to pay upfront, tell them about that, so they know you’ve got to come with the money upfront even though if your session is four months away.
If you have payment plans or don’t have payment plans, whatever is other parameters for you, also just being open about the fact that this is none refundable. Here’s the thing that scares people, will there be people who are saying no, because you do this? Yes, should you be scared that people will say no because you are doing this? No. The people who say no are going to be the people who are going to be problems later, they are going to be the people where you will have to harass them to get the money, they are going to be the people who you are going to have to fight with them about boundaries and about enforcing the boundaries.
The energy that you are going to have to go to, to handle them is going to cost way more than the first couple of payments that they are going to make to you that are actually going to go through. I know there are certain industries where it can be difficult to do this. If you are doing business to business, small businesses, you are dealing with the owner, it’s actually very much like doing business consumer. If you are doing business to business with very large businesses, if you are doing business to government entities, this may not work because it is so extremely customized. However, you can still disclose price earlier in the sales process, that way if someone’s budget is…You ask them “What’s your budget for this” and they say, “It’s 20 grand” but, of course, what your trap with this thing, is they want is $100, 000, you want to know that as soon as possible so that you can figure out what a new solution is? It’s a good thing on both sides even if you are doing something that is highly customized and highly negotiated.
This also works for the other relationships, this isn’t just about marketing and your relationships with customers and clients and disclosing things as soon as possible to them. It also with joint venture partners, other business partners, co‑founders, with potential contractors and vendors, with potential employees, with your staff who already work for you. You want to have as many expressly defined rules, standards, whatever makes sense for that particular relationship, you want things to be express. If you expect…for example, let’s talk about employees, let’s say you have your employees work remotely, they are working wherever and they don’t come into office, you don’t see them working, you may also be very flexible but at the hours that they work. You may have expectations that are unsaid such as you want everyone to respond to email within a certain number of hours or once a day or whatever it is.
It’s unfair to expect that unless you tell somebody, you can’t hold someone accountable to a rule unless they know what the rule is, that’s just incredibly unfair. If you have boundaries like that, if you have boundaries that you want your employees to respect or your co‑founders to respect, you need to disclose them. In some places, you will have to put those in some formal agreement and we are going to talk about that tomorrow. Even if you are not going to do something formal with every single rule which a lot of times you don’t because they change too much to have them actually go on the contract, you still want to have them written down.
It doesn’t have to be some super fancy complicated thing, it can be a Google document. The idea is just having it express as much as possible what your expectations are, what you expect from them and also by the way what they expect from you. If you are hiring someone and one of their expectations is that they want to be able to work from home, in your boundaries you want everyone to come to the office, this is not compatible, this is going to be a horrible problem later. It doesn’t make sense to start out with that employee even though they may be absolutely brilliant. If they need to work from home two days a week and you will never going to be happy with that.
You want to have those boundaries, be express from both sides as much as possible, as much as you can do within this point of laws and all that kind of steps, I know it can be very complicated but as many things as it can be written down, the more things can be written down the better. Your assignment for today is going to be about, going through your various boundaries, going through a lot of the stuff that we looked at in the first three days. What things about your relationships are driving off the wall? Where your boundaries, are being violated? What things do you need so that you can do your best work?
And looking at how can you be more express about them? I recommend, just like I said yesterday of picking, two, three, four, five things that are the most important to you that drive you up the wall the most. Or you get the most juice out of or whatever it is. Focus on those because you can’t do everything all at once. This is an ongoing thing that you would be working on, forever to be honest. It always changes, who you are changes and what your boundaries are, actually change. This isn’t something that just stops, this is living, it’s a living organism because you are a living organism and your business is a living organism and it’s made up of living organisms.
This is going to be staying very, very dynamic, we are just finding a place to start. Pick three, four, five things and look at, how can you communicate those boundaries into your various relationships? Maybe some boundaries that you need to communicate in every single place and even in personal lifestyles. There will be some boundaries that only apply to clients or that only apply to your business partner. Pick a couple and look at, how can you be express and how you disclose those in your work?
Need help with creating those terms or disclosures? Check out the info on EPW’s Flat-Fee Packages, custom tailored for your specific situation.