Bullish Q&A: Side-hustles, Schedules and Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries on Your Side Hustle

I started doing social media mgmt for my dad & a family friend this year, & just got my 1st non-nepotistic client. I’m thrilled & plan on pursuing this/turning it into my own biz. I’m also balancing these 3 clients with my “main job” as a personal asst at the moment. My boss is supportive/flexible but I’m having to juggle/time-manage quite a bit. As a young inexperienced aspiring entrepreneur, how do I set boundaries in this age when my clients can e-mail me tasks at any time with little notice?

 

Great question, and well done with your side-hustle!

Social media can, of course, be scheduled. And there are very few emergencies–I doubt you are working for brands that are going to have PR crises that need to be managed immediately.

So get in the habit of responding to requests right away, and then scheduling the tasks for later. As in, “Great idea! I’ve added this to the queue, along with [other things I am doing for you]. I’ll execute tomorrow and send you a status update then.”

Clients want to know that their requests are being heard and that your process is organized. When I work with an assistant and I delegate a task to her, I want to know that she’s recorded it on some canonical list, or scheduled it for someone specific time, so I can stop thinking about it. In essense, I don’t get the full mental benefit of delegating unless I’m confident that the person I’m delegating it to has taken the task seriously and “booked” it.

If there really are tasks that need to be done ASAP, you could do them on your lunch hour (what a quaint concept!) If you’re not used to taking a lunch hour, start. Tell your boss you work better when you get out of the office/her house for lunch, and then go to a cafe or a Panera or something with WiFi. Fortunately, most social media tasks don’t take that long. (Or can be done from your phone, so you don’t even need to casuallllly bring your laptop to lunch.)

You can also create an agreement for new clients that specifies a 24-hour or 48-hour turnaround for requests.

You could also hold “office hours” (Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8pm or whatnot) where you’ll be online and available by phone.

But I’m not sure you even have a problem that needs these measures. You say that clients are emailing at all times of the day, but not that they demand immediate service. Try responding to requests right away, and then scheduling the tasks for later – assure clients you’re taking their requests very seriously and are organized in your process.

And don’t take any shit from anybody. Providing prompt and excellent service is not the same thing as taking shit from people. Here are some email templates I wrote for dealing with (and possibly firing) toxic clients.

Good luck!