Episode 70: "Boundaries" is Not a Bad Word and Here are Some You Need


Show Notes


In this episode, I am talking about the boundaries you need to set in your business. Boundaries with your clients, with your kids, and even with yourself. Making sure you have solid boundaries will not only help keep your sanity but also being consistent in keeping these boundaries is super important. And believe me, your life will be more enjoyable when you enforce boundaries in your business.

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About Michelle

Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.

In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies, and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.

Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.



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Michelle Lynne: Welcome to Designed for the Creative Mind, a podcast for interior designers and creative entrepreneurs to run their business with purpose, efficiency, and passion. Because, while every design is different, the process should remain the same. Prepare yourself for some good conversations with amazing guests, a dash of Jesus and a touch of the woowoo, and probably a swear word or two. If you're ready to stop trading your time for money and enjoy your interior design business, you are in the right place. I'm your host, Michelle Lynne.


Michelle Lynne: Hey, y'all, welcome back to the podcast. I'm glad you're here. Today is so close to the end of summer. School is starting again. Hallelujah. For those of you who have had children home for the summer, I salute you. I'm here today to talk to you about boundaries. Which is actually not about boundaries with your children, although I will say that having become a, I'd say relatively new mom, Genevieve is four years old, for those of you who guys have been with me for a while.

Business is a lot like motherhood. Motherhood is a lot like business. And a lot of it does come down to boundaries. And that's what I want to talk to you about today. Boundaries in your business, boundaries with your kids, are things that can keep you sane. So today, we're going to be talking about boundaries in your business. And I want to tell you that consistency is the key when it comes to these boundaries. And that basically means that it comes down to you. You have to believe in the boundaries, you have to believe in your worth to enforce these boundaries, and your business will run smoother because of it and your life will be more enjoyable because of it as well. I think a lot of us when we get into business, we are truly looking to serve our clients. And servant leadership, to me is one of the most beautiful things that you can offer. However, just because you are operating from a place of keeping our clients happy, doing the right thing, serving them with your whole heart, does not mean that you have to lose yourself in it. It is up to you to choose what your boundaries are.

I want to share with you some of the ones that we have put into place at ML Interiors Group, and kind of how they came about. There's some boundaries that you can put into your contract, there's some boundaries that you can put into just general communication, there's boundaries that you can express verbally. We all operate our business just a little bit differently.

Now boundaries in your contract will include things such as if you approved to purchase it and the vendor does not take returns, then there's no option to return it. It doesn't mean that you're going to own that piece of furniture just automatically as the business owner, if the client decides that this custom furniture or even to the trade some of our vendors don't accept returns, that doesn't mean that you should shoulder it. So putting it in your contract and saying our return policy is that of our vendors, there might be a restocking fee, that you're gonna have to pay freight, you're gonna, I mean, think about this. If something shows up, let's just say it's a side table, it shows up at the receiver, and the client has changed their mind and decided that they don't want that particular side table anymore, it's not your responsibility to pack it up and send it away. Well, let me rephrase that, it is your responsibility to make sure you pack it up and send it away. But the client has to understand, and it needs to be in your contract, that they are responsible for the receiver recreating it, and then they're responsible for the freight that goes with it. So there are consequences to changing their mind.

Now it is your responsibility to share that with them when you're going through the contract. So that's one example of a boundary in your contract. Another example of a boundary in your contract is going to be shopping you. Telling your clients that you make money by selling them furniture is not a bad thing. Just sharing that with them in general as you are walking them through your research process is one way to share with them that that is your business model. And it is not necessarily something that is negotiable. But also when you put it in your contract and you state if you go buy something from another vendor or you source it on your own and you purchase it, basically you're on your own and you owe me money. So sharing with them that you're on your own because you don't have any relationships with the vendors in order to assist with any issues that might arise, if it shows up broken or the wrong item or whatever the case may be. And also because you've explained to them that you do make money selling them furniture, that because they went to another resource and you're not getting your margins, that has been factored into your numbers and into your process, and therefore they still owe you X percentage or X number or whatever the case may be. So those are boundaries that if you explain to your client, you're automatically putting your rules in place. And like I said before, you have to be the one that enforces them.


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Michelle Lynne: Okay, you guys I'm thankful that I have an amazing production team because my daughter just burst into the doors and scared the heck out of me. I'm not exactly sure where that was. So I am just going to pick up here and talk about how it is your responsibility to enforce the boundaries that you have in the contract. And it is nice when you do have these boundaries in the contract that you can always refer back to the contract and state, "as it says in our contract". It's much easier to refer to your contract as its own entity versus feeling like you are being the bad guy. I know sometimes we have a hard time telling people no. So being able to point back to your contract definitely makes it easier.

Now some other boundaries that you can implement in your business, for your state of mind and your sanity. And there's actually a funny story behind this one, is not putting your cell phone on your business cards. You can get another number, I think Google has the availability to give you a phone number, we use a different service, but it's voice over internet provider. And basically, what happens is you can have an app on your existing cell phone, and then what it does is it rings through to your business line. And it shows that it's your business line, and it's not your cell phone.

Now the funny story behind this is that when we first started, when I first started my business and Debbie came on board with me, we were ordering her business cards and she was like, put my cell phone number on the business card. I'm like, are you sure you want to do that? And she's like, yeah, absolutely. So she was getting phone calls all the time, day and night and so forth from her clients, from people who she just given her business cards to and so forth. So we ordered them, the next time she's like, take that damn cell number off. So when it comes to sharing your cell phone, a great boundary is going to be telling your clients that they only get your cell phone after you guys have established a level of trust, of course, after they sign the contract, and all the things.

Now you guys don't have to be available at all times. Set your notifications up so that you can have your Do Not Disturb, so that you can have your sleep time, and so forth. So you don't have to be available 24/7 for your clients. We basically tell them that we don't text. Everything needs to be emailed. For one, it's for documentation because it can stay in your inbox. It doesn't get lost in your text messages. And also so that you can not have those mini interruptions.

So I hope this is making sense for you guys. Like I said earlier, my kid is home. Did I say it earlier? I don't know. My kid's home sick. She's literally getting into the bath right next to my office as I'm recording this and just thinking, hey production, as you hear this don't even worry about the quality of this particular episode. Because this is just life. And that's a whole other lesson or a whole other episode.

So let's keep talking about boundaries. You don't need to be available via text. You don't need to be available on weekends, nights, and holidays. You don't have to work weekends, nights, and holidays. If there's a client who wants you to come to their house after hours and you don't want to because that's not the way you operate your business, then you can tell them that. Now on rare exceptions, would you maybe do a Saturday or an evening or something, if that's the only time that they can meet, and it's going to be a large-scale project. But they have to understand that that's when you work. So your design presentations and all of the other things are going to be during the day, and they're going to have to make time for it. Because those are your boundaries. If that doesn't work for them, then they're not your client. And that's okay.

Now, if you're at a different phase of life, and you're like, yeah, I can work weekends and evenings. And maybe I'll just take a nap or sleep in and not work during the day. Well, then that works, too. So just remember that this is your business, and you can create your own boundaries. Other boundaries can be literally how quickly you get the design done for them. This is your timeframe. So if they want something done yesterday, you can deliver it. But you can also explain to them just like FedEx, if you absolutely positively needed overnight, we can get it to you overnight. I mean, not a design, but FedEx, now it's going to cost an arm and a leg. So if they need you to expedite your process, your boundary is, I can absolutely expedite my process, but I'm going to charge you a premium. Because what happens is that you don't have the opportunity to work on other projects. You're declining other potential projects, clients in order to meet their needs. So that's going to cost you money. And if you explain that to them, we've done it before, we had a kitchen design, pretty much designed and implemented in six months. And I know that doesn't sound all that great. But like literally it takes you three months to design it and six months to implement it, it should be a nine-month project, he only had construction going on for about four months. And we got the design done in less than two. And then we did the revisions and all of that. Now it cost him a pretty penny. But it's also costing me business not to serve other clients as they come. So those are boundaries that you can put into place as well.

We talked about text, we talked about things to put in your contract, if something goes wrong with the receiver, if something goes wrong with the product that's not on you. And so these are things that you should have in your contract. The other things like your texts, and your office hours and so forth can just be in a document that you share with them and say this is how we operate.

So I hope that some of these details have been helpful, I hope that there has been some rhyme or reason because I have started and stopped recording multiple times. The perfectionist in me is about to roll over dead. But the business owner in me who says that done is better than perfect, I have to talk the talk and walk the walk. So we're sending this to production and getting it done.

I am going to give myself a quick plug for our Interior Design Business Success Summit, October 12th, 13th, and 14th. You can find that information on my website, www.designedforthecreativemind.com. If you haven't already, check out the growing community on my private Facebook group called The Interior Designers Business Launchpad. And finally, if you're looking for a mentor, coach, leadership, and a community, my Interior Design Business Bakery is one hell of a badass product, if I do say so myself. And hopefully my kid next door didn't hear me say badass. So on that note, until next time, thank you guys for your patience and your understanding. Thank you to my production team for cleaning this up. And until next time.

Hey y'all. If you love the show and find it useful, I would really appreciate it if you would share with your friends and followers. And if you like what you're hearing, want to put a face with a name and get even more business advice, then join me in my Facebook group, The Interior Designers Business Launchpad. Yeah, I know it's Facebook, but just come on in for the training and then leave without scrolling your feed. It's fine. I promise you'll enjoy it. And finally, I hear it's good for business to get ratings on your podcast. So please drop yours on whatever platform you use to listen to this. We're all about community over competition. So let's work on elevating our industry, one designer at a time. See you next time.

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