How to Educate Your Clients on Your Work/Life Balance
When I started my side hustle, I didn’t even know to call it that. The concept and term “side hustle” is fairly foreign to most people, unless they own one.
It seems self-explanatory, doesn’t it? A side hustle is a way to earn an income on the side of whatever else is occupying your schedule.
However, where most of us are aware of our individual definitions of “hustling”, your clients and customers may have a hard time understanding just exactly where you fall on the scale of hobby to small business.
I consider full-time entrepreneurs running their own business to be a world apart from side hustlers. Their business opportunity was likely all-or-nothing: they started from scratch, took a risk, and had success enough to make it their full-time job.
On the other hand, I like to view side hustling as a new type of entrepreneurism — a low-risk, go at your own pace type of small business that you’re also creating from scratch, but without the financial and time investments required to make it big right off the bat.
Whether you’re brand new to side hustling or have been running your biz for a few years now, you’ve likely encountered some of these clients and customers who didn’t quite understand how you operate. Perhaps they expected more out of the service or their customer experience wasn’t to their liking because it was unique from the one they’d get from a different brand.
I've spent several years learning all about running my side hustle and how it integrates with my life. I like to call this my “work/life balance”. It’s a delicate act of weighing the costs associated with my time and money spent in different areas of my life with the sacrifice of time spent with my kids or for myself.
I’ve also used this time in business to nail down a better understanding of how my side hustle is perceived and utilized by my customers and clients.
Here are a few lessons or truths I’ve discovered:
The way you present yourself directly impacts the value your customers perceive.
When you’ve got solid branding and a legitimate website, you seem like a more established, reliable business for your clients to invest their money in.
It’s tempting as you’re just starting out to think, “My value will be in my service, and they’ll see that!” because it’s hard for those who haven’t bought to understand that you’re more than your hacked logo and cell phone-quality product photos.
I may be a little biased, but I always recommend, as a graphic designer, that your branding and presentation of your brand be a top priority with how you spend your money as you’re investing and growing your side hustle. And just because I’m biased doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I’ve had plenty of proof to back this up with all the side hustles I’ve been involved with or advised on!
Communicating with the professionalism of a more established business garners more respect.
Another truth I’ve learned is that the more casual I am with my clients, the more casually they view my offerings. I don’t want them to feel casual about our service at all — that diminishes the value of my service and makes it more difficult to stick to my prices and work begins to feel like a “quick little favor” instead of time spent serving them and away from my family.
I like to proofread EVERYTHING I put out for my business with Grammarly to ensure that I’m not making any blatant grammar or spelling mistakes, and then I even check the voice of my email or blog post to make sure it matches the vibe I’m trying to communicate. I often use a more formal tone to be clear and concise in my communication, even though I may speak more casually through text or in person.
If your processes, service, or products don’t match the norm, or what your customer expects, it will be met with confusion, and possibly frustration.
There are a lot of things I do in my hustle that make me unique, and not always in a good way, depending on the client. For example, I don’t use phone calls to communicate with my clients and I’ve pared down my services to simple, cookie-cutter offerings that look the same for each client. Both of these things allow me and my team to work more efficiently and consistently, helping to drop the cost of our service and pass on that savings to our customers.
However, I know I’ve lost prospective clients in the past because I was unwilling to communicate with a phone call or develop a custom service for them outside of our routine. That’s okay with me because it’s not how I operate my business to be able to accommodate everyone.
And that’s the beauty of a side hustle: you can make it what you want! I love the freedom I have with a side hustle to dictate my own processes as they suit me, my schedule, and my team.
You should understand, as you’re negotiating your own work/life balance, that not every new customer or client is going to “get it”. Often my biggest hurdle with on-boarding or marketing is communicating how my process/service is different, but in a way that still allows my customers to see the value, even if initially it’s a foreign concept to them.
As I touched on before, there are several ways that my business differs from others in my industry who offer similar services to my exact demographic. Some of my clients or customers struggle with these things at first, until I’m able to explain the full value of what we’re offering them as a result of our efficiency and expertise. Some things that have thrown clients before are:
Communication only via email.
Our services are offered only at a monthly rate, not hourly, so they’re structured the same month-to-month.
I work with a team to take on more work, so clients aren’t always working or communicating directly with me.
My pricing is contingent on our value, not the client’s needs. This means we don’t discount or custom quote our services based on the client and their budget.
Like I’ve said, this has been a hurdle to communicate with clients and help them see the value of what we offer since we’re unique from other businesses or services they may be familiar with. It’s worth the hassle of communicating our value to them since it allows me to maintain my ideal work/life balance.
So, your first priority when you’re faced with this circumstance is to find a way to properly explain how your business operates based on your schedule and unique circumstances. Where do you start? I’ve got a few suggestions:
Stick to the schedule and operations that best suit you, no matter who you’re working with. You’ve set these processes in place in this manner for a reason; don’t fold for anyone!
Explain your process in several places, repeated throughout your website and marketing, so that your customers are given ample opportunity to understand and ask questions.
Remember the reason you’re dealing with some frustrating miscommunication: because your client doesn’t think the same way you do. In fact, that’s likely why they’re coming to you for these services or products in the first place, otherwise, they’d take care of it themselves!
If you can show your client the value you bring to the table through the communication of your work/life balance professionally and respectfully, miscommunications generally fall to the wayside and get chalked up as exactly what they are: misunderstandings.
The more time I spend running my side hustle, the smoother this process is. Clients understand and respect how I operate because, ultimately, I’m delivering incredible quality on an organized, efficient timeline. My processes save them so much time and money that the monthly investment is well worth it.
As I’ve learned how to better communicate with my clients about the structure of my business, I’ve noticed that my clientele is made up more and more of those “dream clients”, the target clients who totally get me and see more value out of what I’m giving than I originally thought I was offering.
My wish for you is that you’re able to easily establish your own work/life balance that allows your side hustle to become an important part of your life, without it interrupting the service and products you’re able to deliver to your clients. Good luck with all your communications!
PIN THIS POST!
free business & marketing tools
Take your hustle to the next level!
Subscribe to our email list today
to download your free copy of
5 WAYS TO RUN A MINIMALISTIC BUSINESS