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Better Business Boundaries

To get a new client, we might be inclined to make concessions no matter what the cost: offer a second or extra long sample session; reduce fees; set session times we don't want to work. We might leap at any opportunity before looking at the possible return on investment of time. These situations end up being lessons learned, sometimes painful ones.

Before you get caught in another good lesson, set up your business with strong boundaries. They create a friendly and ethical structure that allows others to find their place with you. They speak volumes about your professionalism and keep both you and your clients on track.

Want only as much for your clients as they want for themselves.

If you find yourself feeling frustrated about your client's results, you are wanting too much for your client. Challenge them and let go of the outcome. If you can't let go of the outcome, you may need to let go of the client.

If this is happening often, consider setting criteria for your prospective clients. In my own business as a mentor coach, to avoid getting started with someone who isn't ready to make progress, I pre-qualify possible clients by asking:

"Are you committed to building a successful coaching practice and ready to invest your resources (time, energy and money) to making this happen now?" I may even go further to inquire about how much time they will dedicate and how many months of coaching they will budget.

I've found this puts clients on notice that the success of the coaching is largely up to them. It also raises the perceived value of my coaching services because they see that I don't take on just anyone.

Stand firmly by your chosen fees.

Set fees that will pay you well for the time it takes to market to, coach and manage your clients. If you discount your services because a prospective client won't afford your fees, in essence you've discounted the value of your services. So will your new client. The coaching won't be as effective because they will be depending on you to take on some of the burden of their financial limitations. This forces you both out of the Co-creative Relationship.

Consider developing group coaching at half price for individuals on a tighter budget. This way you offer them something of value without taking on their financial problems as your own. Once your practice is well developed you can have a client or two on partial scholarship where they pay at a reduced rate for a limited time, say two ? three months. Then the fee goes up to your full rate. You'll want to be sure they'll make a strong commitment to doing their own work. And never call it a discount.

Create and hold time boundaries.

If your stated session time is an hour, do your best to keep that boundary. When answering inquiries, let the caller know you are available for a specified amount of time. These are courtesies that also keep you on track.

I enjoy my work and have often forgotten to hold time boundaries. I'm learning to value my time and energy in new ways. If I do spend extra time with a client, I note it by saying: "I'd like to gift you ten extra minutes today." This effects my client two ways: one, they understand I've loosened the time boundary, and two, they perceive additional value.

When someone says "Jump!" look before you leap.

When asked to do something ? take on a role, task or project ? give yourself time to thoroughly review how well it:

- Fits your interests.
- Aligns with your business purpose and niche.
- Provides a good return for your investment of time.

Say no, unless it will pay off for you. This applies to non-business opportunities as well. If you're overcommitted, you'll not be able to dedicate enough time and energy to satisfy any of your priorities, especially your business goals.

Turn down work that isn't ideal. If clients are not a good fit refer them to another coach that fits the client's interest, values or price range better. It will make room for the right opportunities and your ideal clients.

Enjoy the structure and professionalism these boundaries bring to your business. In the next edition we'll discuss coaching ethics, another set of important boundaries.

Rhonda Hess mentors professional life coaches to create financially successful businesses. With the guidance of her expertise in niche marketing, Rhonda's clients create compelling programs to manifest their unique visions. Rhonda has trained and certified over 200 coaches through Coach Training Alliance. She co-authored the ecourse, the Coach Training Accelerator, a complete manual for coaches.

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