Boundaries are simply knowing what you will and won’t do or tolerate. They’re limits you set around what you’re comfortable with and how you’d like to be treated. If a coworker, family member, or friend is toxic and causes you nothing but grief, it’s natural to put up boundaries to limit your interactions. In some serious cases, you might even cut them from your life completely.
In business, boundaries can help you determine what does and does not get your attention, so that you can focus on what’s most important and actually achieve your goals. Most entrepreneurs in general start off as solopreneurs or lone wolves who prefer to do everything themselves. Whether that’s because of limited funds for hiring or because of control issues, being a lone wolf limits your boundaries because you have your hand in everything from product creation to sales and customer service.
The truth is, we have limited bandwidth. Burnout is a real danger for business owners, especially those solopreneurs who carry the weight of their success on their shoulders. If you don’t have boundaries when it comes to your business and work life, it’s very easy for you to lose your sense of work/life balance and your motivation.
Work-life balance isn’t just healthy for you, it also helps you produce better work for clients and also allows you to show up the way you’d ideally like to for your clients. What you do in one area of your life also carries over into other areas; so, if you show up better to your clients, you’ll naturally show up better/differently with your family and friends.
Go through this list of signals to see if you have weak boundaries in your business:
You try to do everything yourself. You refuse to outsource or allow others to help. Is this due to lack of funding or trust/control issues? Dig deep to find the lessons you learned in your past – possibly your childhood – about why you prefer to do everything yourself.
You have low energy and/or you feel depressed. Feeling defeated everyday will only cause your motivation to lag. Explore when this began and some possible causes. Try changing your diet and/or lifestyle so you get more rest and if necessary, search for a professional counselor if your low days affect your daily living.
You’re resentful of clients and opportunities–anything that asks you to output energy or give up your time. New clients are the crux of your business; however, if you don’t have the energy to enjoy the work or serve them like you want, you’ll resent having to work longer hours or on the weekends. Brainstorm some solutions.
You feel guilty because you’re not actually serving clients at the level you’d like to. If you feel like you’re stretched too thin, chances are that your clients feel that, too. When the guilt piles on, then you may try to overcompensate, which leaves you with even less time or too much focus on one client while others continue to get lost. Start a list of brainstorming ideas to handle this workload and your resulting guilt.
You say yes just because you don’t want to say no – you fear disappointing others – not because what you’re saying yes to is actually a priority. We’ve been trained to be polite and in business, we fear that saying no will hurt our reputations. But NO is a complete sentence. If an offer or opportunity doesn’t fit your vision or if you’re unavailable, simply say NO. No excuses necessary.
You’re dealing with poor sleep, poor health, or simply feeling bad as you go about your days. This goes hand-in-hand with having low energy or feeling depressed. Burning the midnight oil only serves to diminish your health and the quality of your work. It’s a vicious cycle because your sleep affects your health, which ultimately affects your productivity. If all of that starts sliding downhill, then you’ll naturally feel bad, which will keep you up at night.
You don’t feel like you’re making any progress toward your ultimate goals, but rather just doing what’s necessary to get by in the here and now. Some entrepreneurs may even feel like they’re always playing catch up or they’re having to react to situations – or client problems – instead of being proactive with their business.
On the flip side, when you put better business boundaries in place, your business has the chance to grow, and you have the chance to increase your income. You can experience wonderful things like:
Being more productive because you have the energy and bandwidth necessary for everything you say yes to. You’re more in tune with what you can and cannot handle, especially if you have not hired a VA or other team member yet.
Having the time in your schedule to accept more clients or to create that signature course because you’re being so productive. Having time in the evenings (if you choose) to work on passion projects because you know clients won’t be contacting you.
Enjoying your clients and the work you do for them. You don’t resent when they contact you. You feel grateful for the opportunity to serve them from your heart. Great service equals raving testimonials which can turn into more new clients.
Having the energy and time to make progress toward your ultimate goals for your business (and life!) Your vision board makes you excited and you know the next steps toward reaching your goals because you have them defined.
Having better client relationships because you know you’re showing up for them fully – and no longer feel guilty that you’re underdelivering or not giving it your all. This is all about trusting in yourself, that you have the tools to help your clients but that you’re also selective in the clients you choose to work with.
Saying no is a super important boundary. If you say yes to everything, you’ll end up with an overcrowded calendar and you won’t be able to determine who are your ideal clients and who are not. You might also end up with partnerships that aren’t truly beneficial, all because you didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s time to take those personal feelings out of business and focus on what you really want to accomplish.
Every time you say no to something – you’re saying yes to something else. Business success requires you to be able to say “Yes” to what’s important and “No” to anything else.
Boundary-setting can feel intimidating. But no matter whether you’re setting a boundary with a client, a boundary with yourself, or a boundary with a friend/team member/colleague – it’s actually the most important thing you can do for your own mental health and the health of your business long term. Setting boundaries creates peace and freedom for you to do what you truly love and make the mark you truly want to make on this world and be the person you truly want to be.
Struggling with setting boundaries, head over to the podcast, subscribe, download and listen to this podcast episode with Nicole Ware as she shares some great gems about her experience setting boundaries, choosing who to work with, and how to cultivate a business she loves.