Boundaries: No one will enforce them for you

Written on September 2, 2011 by in Business savvy

Only you can set and enforce your boundaries. Art inspiration by A New Dawn

Part of being a small business owner is deciding what you will and won’t accept. Of course you want to please your customers, but you also have to define and defend your boundaries.

I was talking to a client recently — we’ll call her Lily — who is fed up with unpredictable revenue and is considering closing her doors. We all know the photography industry has become increasingly competitive and that it’s harder than ever to make a living as a professional photographer. Lily, however, has a strong client base, is established in her market and is actively working. Her problem is that clients aren’t ordering, and so Lily doesn’t know when or from where her next mortgage payment is coming. Her clients are pleading for extensions or forgetting to order by the deadline because they’ve been “busy” or “on vacation.” What can she do?

Well, I could give her a whole spiel about in-person ordering sessions, time-limited online galleries, reactivation fees, etc., but I know she already has appropriate sales policies in place. The issue here is enforcement. Lily wants to keep her clients happy but, by caving to their unreasonable requests, she is threatening the financial viability of her business and family. 

As a small business owner, you have to be both “good cop” and “bad cop.” You must define your policies and then enforce them, because no one else will do that for you. I know that’s hard… 

It feels better to be Ms. Nice Gal, to avoid confrontation and to have everyone like you — for women, I think this is especially true. But Ms. Nice Gal doesn’t put food on the table and keep the lights on. Ms. Strong Business Woman does that. 

Is there an area of your business in which you’ve been playing nice to your own detriment? What would Strong Business Woman (or Man) say? 

Cheers,
Kate-signature 

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2 Comments

  1. cindy
    September 6, 2011

    love it…. so funny that THAT is what i was just needing to hear!

    • Kate Watson
      September 8, 2011

      Yay, glad to help Cindy!


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