Are you constantly working outside of scope on projects to appease your clients (and avoid uncomfortable conversations)?
Do you find yourself frequently adjusting expectations with members of your team to avoid conflict (and implementing consequences)?
Are you available at all hours of the day and night in case your team or clients need anything (at the expense of your own schedule and priorities)?
If you answered “yes” to any, or all, of the questions above, then we need to talk about your business boundaries–or lack thereof.
You Are Not Your Business
When you own your own business, the lines between your personal and professional life get blurry.
It’s almost unavoidable. Surviving the start-up phase requires so much of your time, energy, and attention. By the time your business is truly viable, it feels like a part of you. So the idea of letting anyone down, however unreasonable their expectations may be, feels like a personal failure.
Like admitting that maybe you aren’t cut out for entrepreneurial life after all.
Here’s the thing: If you’ve gotten this far– if you survived the start-up phase and came out the other side with a viable business–you’re already a successful entrepreneur.
If you want to go from busy business owner to confident CEO of a thriving company, you need to recognize that you are not your business.
Next, you need to start implementing some boundaries because the concessions you’re making to keep everyone happy are undermining the integrity of your leadership and the long-term sustainability of your business.
Broken Boundaries Lead to Business Breakdowns
How often do you say yes when you mean no?
Do you reduce your prices when potential customers question the value of your offer?
Are you constantly putting your work on hold to deal with unexpected demands or unmet expectations?
Porous boundaries are insidious.
They impede your ability to get things done.
They sap your energy, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
They can even make you question the value of your work, depleting your confidence and motivation.
When you fall into the habit of bending or breaking your boundaries–or you lack boundaries in your business altogether–you create an unsustainable cycle of busy work and communication breakdowns that will leave you feeling exhausted at best, and taken advantage of at worst.
But when you implement healthy boundaries in your business, you create the supportive structure and clear expectations necessary to ensure that you, your team, your clients, and your business are all set up to succeed.
As the owner of your business, you’re the only one with the power to make that change.
|Why Boundaries Matter in Business|
⇒ Boundaries define expectations.
⇒ Boundaries lay the framework for clear communication.
⇒ Boundaries foster respect and understanding.
⇒ Boundaries impart a sense of ownership and responsibility.
⇒ Boundaries create a foundation for mutual success because everyone is on the same page.
How to Build Healthy Boundaries in Your Business
Establishing boundaries is an art form. It takes time and practice to build up your confidence.
To start with, you need to be crystal clear on your business values and expectations if you’re going to communicate them with poise when the time comes.
For example, if you genuinely believe that time away from work is essential to your team’s well-being, then you need to draw firm boundaries around time off, and they need to apply to you too.
★ Is your office closed during evenings and weekends? Let your clients know they can expect timely replies to calls or emails during business hours, Monday through Friday.
★ Add your hours of operation to your voicemail recording and email signature settings.
★ Ensure your team and clients know that having time off work is a real priority by creating clear expectations and upholding them. That means that you won’t be contacting them outside of their working hours, and you won’t be replying to anything outside of yours, either. (Barring a real emergency, of course.)
★ COACHES TIP ★ If you and your team, or your clients, are living in different time zones or working different schedules, you can use the email scheduling feature as needed to protect and reinforce this boundary.
Remember, the more explicit you are in setting expectations and communicating boundaries, the more successful and skillful you’ll be in addressing bumps down the road. At first, it will be uncomfortable. That isn’t because you’re doing something wrong; it’s just because you’re doing something different.
Boundaries = The Best Practice Your Business Needs
Learning how to honor your boundaries is like lifting weights to build up your muscles when you’ve never worked out a day in your life. You’re going to feel awkward and ungainly at first, it might even be painful at times, but when you’re consistent and persistent in your practice, you’ll get better at it.
The weights won’t get lighter, but they will get easier to lift. Eventually, you’ll realize that you aren’t just getting stronger; you have more energy, you feel more focused, and you’re sleeping better at night.
The same thing happens when you implement boundaries in your business and actually maintain them.
⇒ There are fewer distractions.
⇒ You have more time and energy to do the work only you can do.
⇒ Your team knows exactly what is expected of them. They know their work is valued and meaningful. They’re accountable for delivering, and they do.
⇒ You’re less stressed, more focused, more motivated, and more inspired.
⇒ Instead of constantly being at the end of your rope, your capacity has expanded.
That’s why implementing boundaries in your business is a best practice.
Because they create the framework that empowers you and your team to do your best work and deliver extraordinary results.
So get practicing.