[Coaching: Brad #17] Setting Boundaries with Clients and Time Management + Open Communication

By Zach Swinehart

Coaching series: Can Zach get this beginner freelancer (Brad) to a 6-figure income ($8,333/mo) within 6 months?

Follow their journey through the ups and downs and watch them grow!

Milestones from today’s episode:

  • Brad’s significant change in mindset, strategic client acquisition, and effective time management
  • Setting clear boundaries for work availability and communication expectations with clients, especially concerning Slack and work hours
  • The complexities of billable hours versus personal development time, and distinguishing between client-serving activities vs business growth tasks

Coaching highlights from today’s episode:

  • Setting expectations with clients to prevent misunderstandings and maintain a healthy client-contractor relationship
  • Balancing the need for personal development and fulfilling client expectations without sacrificing business growth or personal well-being
  • Moving from thinking like an employee to thinking like a business owner, focusing on independence, making choices, and the feelings involved in freelancing

Original coaching call recording date: 10/27/2023

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AI-Generated Summary:

  • 0:00 – 2:00 — Zach introduces the podcast series focusing on freelancing success, aiming to help Brad achieve a six-figure income in six months.
  • 2:00 – 4:00 — Brad shares his progress, attributing his turnaround to Zach’s advice and the support from his network and potential clients.
  • 4:00 – 6:00 — Discussion on the transition to working with more professional clients and the positive impact on Brad’s work environment and mindset.
  • 6:00 – 8:00 — Zach and Brad explore the benefits of expanding skill sets and the potential of personal brand building in the freelancing and marketing sectors.
  • 8:00 – 10:00 — Zach emphasizes the importance of content creation and sharing success stories as a strategy for freelancers to generate leads and build authority in their niche.
  • 10:00 – 12:00 — Zach discusses repurposing content across multiple platforms and encourages Brad to share his experiences and learnings.
  • 12:00 – 14:00 — Brad expresses a desire to understand billable hours better, transitioning from the pressure of time tracking on Upwork to a professional setting.
  • 14:00 – 16:00 — Zach reflects on the rapid progress Brad has made, questioning the initial six-month goal and acknowledging the time required for substantial changes.
  • 16:00 – 18:00 — The discussion on billable hours continues, with Zach sharing his evolving perspective on the subject and considering alternatives like project-based pricing.
  • 18:00 – 20:00 — Zach suggests a weekly retainer model for Brad, focusing on availability rather than exact hours worked, to maintain a balance between client expectations and workload.
  • 20:00 – 22:00 — Zach discusses pricing strategies for efficiency gains in outreach tasks, advocating for per-project pricing over hourly to benefit from efficiencies.
  • 22:00 – 24:00 — Brad is comfortable with hourly billing for now, focusing on learning and delivering value over quick financial strategies, and aims to avoid undercutting himself.
  • 24:00 – 26:00 — Brad expresses his desire to approach his role with professionalism, moving beyond relying on personality to secure positions, and seeks clarity on what counts as billable work.
  • 26:00 – 28:00 — The conversation shifts towards the specifics of Brad’s role, focusing more on setting up affiliate programs than cold outreach, emphasizing personalization and efficiency.
  • 28:00 – 30:00 — Zach shares his philosophy on what should be considered billable work, emphasizing communication and agreement with clients, and discusses the nuances of contractor versus employee expectations.
  • 30:00 – 32:00 — Zach clarifies when personal development should be considered billable, distinguishing between skills acquired for the client’s immediate needs versus general professional growth.
  • 32:00 – 34:00 — Emphasizes communication with clients about billable activities to ensure mutual understanding, suggesting categorizing uncertain tasks for discussion.
  • 34:00 – 36:00 — Brad identifies the importance of distinguishing between activities serving the client versus those serving personal business growth, using participation in a mastermind group as an example.
  • 36:00 – 38:00 — Discussion on the challenges of determining billable tasks and the importance of communication and agreement with clients on what constitutes billable work.
  • 38:00 – 40:00 — Zach shares personal experiences and lessons on billing practices, advocating for ongoing, proactive communication with clients about billable tasks and setting clear expectations.
  • 40:00 – 42:00 — Brad discusses balancing availability on Slack with personal time management and not feeling guilty about dedicating time to activities like masterminds that indirectly benefit the client.
  • 42:00 – 44:00 — Zach advises that unless compensated for constant availability, one should not feel obligated to be on Slack all the time, suggesting setting specific work hours for client communication.
  • 44:00 – 46:00 — Strategies for managing work hours and client expectations on Slack, emphasizing the importance of setting boundaries and suggesting scheduled check-ins for regular updates.
  • 46:00 – 48:00 — Discussion on handling impromptu calls and the significance of scheduling meetings to ensure both parties respect each other’s time and professional boundaries.
  • 48:00 – 50:00 — Zach encourages Brad to shed the guilt associated with spending time on personal development activities and to establish clear communication and boundaries with clients regarding availability and expectations.
  • 50:00 – 52:00 — Zach shares his experience of setting boundaries as a contractor in a predominantly employee environment, emphasizing the importance of defining one’s role and needs.
  • 52:00 – 54:00 — The importance of contractors setting terms and growing their business intentionally, contrasting with employee expectations and the flexibility contractors offer to clients.
  • 54:00 – 56:00 — Discusses the misconception of contractors dedicating their entire life to one client’s business and the importance of balancing client work with growing one’s own business.
  • 56:00 – 58:00 — Zach offers advice on managing feelings of guilt for taking personal development time, stressing the importance of balancing client work with actions that benefit the contractor’s business.
  • 58:00 – 01:01:56 — Brad expresses concern about living up to expectations and managing his time effectively, while Zach advises on prioritizing work for the client over less lucrative tasks like Uber driving.