My Christmas gift to myself this year? Boundaries.
Why? Because I feel like I’ve lost a few of them this year.
How? Due to the coro…
Oh f*** off, isn’t that just everyone’s excuse for everything these days?
As agoodwriteup has developed over the years, I’ve become really quite good with boundaries. In having them and sticking to them, I’ve become smarter and slicker in how I run things. I may have refused to develop a ‘thick skin’ (my thoughts on that here), but I’ve still certainly become stronger in how I approach things; clients, projects, expectations, etc.
I’ve built my boundaries, and generally, I’ve kept them. They haven’t been in place to shut people out, but they’ve certainly been present to keep my sanity from p***ing off and leaving me.
That probably applies to my husband, too…
Those boundaries have been established partly through experiencing the natural progression of what it means to run a successful business, partly through having taken time to learn and to listen to others who are doing ‘business things’ in a way I respect, and partly through having made some hideous errors of judgement where I’ve had to learn a lesson or two the hard way.
We’ve all been there (or at least, I hope we have… I can’t be the first person who’s been ghosted by a client the second you’ve submitted a four-figure project that took time, talent and tears, can I?). We’ve all made mistakes, and we’ve all learned from them. I hope we’ve all come back stronger from them, too.
I’ll always kick myself when one of these ‘lessons’ presents itself, however. I question how I could have been so fucking stupid when a dodgy client pulls a fast one, or how I’ve not seen something coming when a project doesn’t go in any way according to the plan I signed up to. Of course, I should point out that this isn’t a full-on moan, because these things are rare (nowadays, at least). I work with THE most amazing clients and go on to form brilliant relationships with them long after we’ve worked on a project together – where all expectations have been exceeded, by the way (that’s my thing). But, it’s part of the nature of business (and the nature of human beings) that there’ll be the odd blip, here and there.
Those blips push boundaries at best, and seek to completely bulldoze them at worst. And it’s too easy to allow (or not see) such an occurrence when you’ve got a pandemic getting in the way.
With a consequence of Covid being a disaster for Customer Service from the big brands and household names who can easily withstand the wrath of consumers when they offer no duty of care whatsoever in the sales and aftercare process (I know, I’ve already ranted repeatedly about this on social media), I feel that the whole attitude has filtered down and given license to all of us to just not give much in the way of a hoot about how we shop, how we buy, and how we do business. We figure we have a solid excuse to lower our standards because the big boys are paving the way, and in lowering those standards, we’re increasing the expectation we put on others to just accept it. I know that “due to the Coronavirus“, and “in light of the ongoing situation“, and all the other unimaginative stock variants of the unprecedented pandemic excuse are indeed legitimate reasons for things going belly up for nearly all of us as some point over the past year, but I personally think it’s made some people take the mick, and made others take their eye off the ball. I’m definitely in that latter camp.
I’ve worked my behind off to get to a position over the years whereby I only work with the clients I really get a good feeling about and the projects that I think would really bring me joy, but anyone can misjudge things, and it’s always possible that judgements can be clouded and that some people can slip through the proverbial net. Especially when we’re all having to do almost everything ‘a little differently’ these days.
I could call those people boundary pushers, but honestly, I wonder if they’ve simply done it to me this year because I’ve subconsciously allowed it… or even invited it. You can’t push a boundary that isn’t clearly there, so I have to accept that some things are my fault. I’ve let my guard down in wanting to play my part to make 2020 a little less shit. I’m gutted.
I don’t want to be that girl who has a million and one Ts and Cs in their contracts, I really don’t, but I also don’t want to be that girl who’s gone a bit soft. Which I have.
I won’t go into the details, but ‘due to the Coronavirus’, or rather, ‘due to people playing the pandemic card’, I’ve caused damage to my own brand and business in feeling pressured to protect and promote other people’s in these most “unprecedented” of times. It’s not right, and so I have indeed revisited my Ts & Cs and made a couple of tweaks. I want to help people, but only if they help themselves and fulfill their part of what is a truly great bargain (yes, my lovely clients actually say that).
Since I turned them into a blog of their own an entire year before anyone had started to use the word “unprecedented” like they were on commission for it, my Ts and Cs were always bold, always fair, and always about me setting my stall out nice and clearly. Well, now they’re a little more Jo.
Don’t like them? Save yourself some cash and the horror of having me whirlwind your business with words, and just don’t work with me. Scroll by, move on.
Like them? Please take them and use them for your own business (within reason, obviously). Chances are, people aren’t pushing boundaries because they’re a***holes*, but because they’ve been permitted to push them elsewhere with another person or business. Let’s raise the bar and protect our small businesses as well as the industries they operate within!
If your business really is struggling due to coronavirus, be respectful of the other businesses – perhaps like mine – who are trying to help you through it. Especially when you came to us, and not the other way around. Nobody is immune to the effects of this virus fucking things up for them – now or in the future – so don’t be a pusher of boundaries, please.
And if anyone’s thinking that I’m being overly harsh, either with this blog or with the Ts and Cs, then just know that the one or two people who took the piss this year, caused me more of my tears and time than I ever should have allowed them to do. It wasn’t my pride that was hurt. It was me.
In 2021, I’ll be saving all my tears for whatever next streams on Disney Plus. Those sentimental suckers always get me.
Have a good one, lovely people. And remember that the whole #BeKind thing extends to small businesses. Be kind to the businesses you work with, and be kind to your own along the way.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
*Of course, there’s still also a real chance that it’s because they’re an a***hole, but I’m trying to be festive and forgiving, here.