• Phyllis Harbinger

How To Create Boundaries

I am a firm believer in boundaries. I have them with my clients, my students, my spouse and I have, since first starting my business, had boundaries with friends and family as well!

Many designers slide down the slippery slope when working with friends and family. This is your business and you need to always remember that first. We all love our friends and family but that does not mean you need to work for free or be taken advantage of. Having systems in place can create a wonderful way in which to engage.


I remember when I was married to my first husband who was a holistic doctor. Everyone wanted to pick his brain when we were out to dinner or away for a weekend. It used to really bug him and once my design career was up and running, I found that the same thing was happening to me.

Remember, this is your intellectual property. You have built your 10,000 + hours, honing your craft. You deserve to be paid for your expertise


When I began my career, I had a number of friends come to me. I told them straight away that I would create a proposal for our work together. I offered the “friends and family” discount. Some were excited and appreciated the value I would bring to their project while others assumed I would give away my creative energy freely. I quickly was able to weed out the people who I was willing to work with.


Family is more challenging and I have only worked pro bono with my parents and my sister. I decided that I really did not want to mix business and family when there was a money exchange and I am not willing to work with any other family members free of charge.


On the subject of boundaries, I came across this fantastic blog post by Design Manager that I have to share with you. Click here to read the full article.


They are discussing four tips to create healthy boundaries when working with friends and family. I love the use of the word “healthy” here. It changes the perception and removes the fear some of you may experience when you want to charge and treat the exchange of information as a business proposition, but are afraid to hurt a friends’ feelings or to insult a family member.


I highly recommend you read through the tips and action items they are suggesting. I have been implementing these ideas for over 25 years.



My rave review of Design Manager featured on their site.

PS- Design Manager has provided me with an exclusive link to give my readers 20% off of their first year subscription to the site. Click here to access and begin your free 30-day free trial of this fantastic software that I have been using since Day 1 of my design business.

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