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How One Simple Hack Can Help You Gain New Clients and Improve Your Time Management

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As a self-employed professional, it can sometimes feel like you are in a perpetual chase after the next new client and sale. I know what it feels like.

Setting hours in your micro businessBut sometimes little adjustments to the way you do things can not only help you to work smarter, but can change the whole dynamic between you and your customers… for the good. It’s why when I stumbled on this simple tweak a while back, I felt like I had struck gold.

Here’s what I did: I started including my “office hours” in my email signature and on my website a few years ago when I was having a particularly hard time balancing work with my responsibilities at home.

Are you a bit disappointed by this tip? Don’t be. I’ll explain why.

By including my office hours, I am explicitly stating that I will only be available for business inquiries during these times. I know this tip may seem counter-intuitive. Won’t you be sending clients away? Shouldn’t we be striving to be more reachable, more on, more everywhere?

The funny thing is, not only did my sales not suffer, they actually increased even as I gained more control over my schedule and consequently, more focused time with my family.

But, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Putting your office hours into your email signature alone won’t help you. You actually have to stick to those hours, or at the very least, resist the temptation to pick up the phone, answer an email, or update your social media status outside of them. This can be an extremely difficult challenge. But, it’s one that has a very big payoff.

Aside from the fact that it just makes you look more professional. Here are three reasons why you should give this a try in your own business:

It creates the perception that you are busy. When you explicitly state that you are only available during specific hours, the assumption is that you are being kept busy. Busy people and places always attract even more people. In other words, what you are doing is creating an implicit social proof.

It helps you to value your own time. Our actions and our view of our self worth (as individuals and business owners) affect the way that others, in particular our clients, see us. Once you truly value and see the importance of your time and the work you produce, many more of your clients will too. It’s as if you can create your own reality.

And I know, it’s not always so easy to feel confident. But, that’s what makes techniques like this so much more powerful and effective. It puts us in a position where it’s easier to feel confident.

Limited hours implies scarcity. Scarcity is a well-know marketing ploy, and the truth is we see it everywhere.

-“This offer is available for one day only.”

-“This live webinar will not be recorded.”

-“This gift is available to the first 10 customers.”

By clearly stating your office hours, you convey that you are not desperate for work. You can afford to accept clients only within those time limits.

All of these things taken together create an extremely powerful message to your clients and more importantly to yourself. As you place more value on your time, your clients will too.

So what do you think? Have you ever tried setting office hours and putting them into your email or on your website?

Comments (8)

  • I agree 100%! I’ve been self employed for over 10yrs and having a defined time for work is HUGE! Like you said in your article if you don’t value your time no one will!

    Occasionally I had to bend the rules but for the most part when people asked me if I worked on Saturday or on the weekends I just said, “NOPE! I gotta keep some time for the family!” The majority of people understood and respected that.

    -Eric Out-

    • Hi Eric,

      Yes, once you start respecting your own boundaries, then other people will too. And, I probably should have mentioned what to do when you have to “bend the rules.” I also had to do this on occasion, but I made it very clear to the person I was working with that I was making an exception. It prevented people from taking advantage of the situation.

  • Susan Brown, I’m so happy to have read this. It gave me some good ideas.

  • I like the combination of managing expectations, leveraging marketing techniques (scarcity), and especially valuing your own time. It is only when I admitted how much I value my own time that I stopped giving it away. As a self-employed professional, I really was constantly chasing the next client, as you say in the opening paragraph. So much so that I found myself offering to do lots of free work in the hopes of earning the business. From my experience, that never works. Partly, I suspect, because it became obvious to the potential client that I didn’t value my own time, and therefore, why should they?

    You put that into a slightly different context in this post, but it’s great validation.


    • Hi Debi,

      I think you touched upon another related pitfall common to self-employed professionals: we don’t come in from a position of power. We kind of put ourselves at the mercy of our clients, and that’s not a good dynamic to have. The minute we appreciate our value and set limits to protect it, the more it encourages our customers to respect it as well. It also puts us in a more balanced relationship with our customers, allowing for a healthy give and take.

  • My time management is always something I’m trying to improve upon. It never seems like there’s enough hours in the day, or that I have enough energy to last through the day, LOL. Thanks for sharing your insights with our bizsugar community.


    • Hi Ti,

      Yes, time can definitely be a scarce resource- especially when you are juggling multiple responsibilities, such as another job, running a home, or being a student. Plus, time has no shelf-life 🙂

      That’s why knowing how to set healthy boundaries is so important.


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