3 Boundaries Every Entrepreneur Needs to Set (And Hold)May 20, 2021
Setting and holding solid boundaries is vital to the success of any entrepreneur or business owner, and takes practice, discipline, and regular reinforcement. In order to achieve and maintain long-term success, there are three boundaries that every entrepreneur needs to set:
Between you and your clients
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
It’s Saturday afternoon (or, hey, maybe it’s Saturday morning! I’m not judging!) and you’ve just cracked open a beer in the back yard with a group of friends. You’ve been counting down the hours seconds to this afternoon for what feels like - or probably has been - months. You’ve been dying for a break, and for some friend time.
In between rounds of corn hole, you’re listening to Tiffany tell you all about the vacation she’s planning with her partner and kiddos when your phone dings.
You: Lemme just get this real quick! 2 seconds, I promise!
Friends you haven’t spent time with in months: *side eye*
You: *ducking into the shade to check your phone for, ahem, two seconds.*
The notification is from the messaging app you use with your clients, and you reflexively open the text and respond. The client, seeing that you are online, seizes the opportunity and messages you back right away.
Before you know it, you’ve spent fifteen minutes in a back-and-forth about this or that problem that your client needs(?) your help with. On the weekend. During your time to kick back and relax that you had been so looking forward to.
Now you definitely know what I’m talking about, right?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, this obliging behavior isn’t new for you. In fact, because you work for yourself, you’ve felt a pull to be constantly “on” and available to everything related to your business since day one.
Honey, I’ve got news for you.
Not setting and holding boundaries with your clients (i.e. not being available before 9am, after 5pm or on the weekends; only taking calls on certain days of the week; and keeping those calls to the allotted amount of time) sends a clear signal that you don’t have a life outside of work and that you will bend over backwards - or heck, even do a cartwheel or two - at their request any old time they feel like asking.
In order to reinforce this or any boundary, you need to abide by it too! Make it clear when you will and will not be available to your clients, and then stick to those times. By respecting your own boundaries, you teach your clients to do the same
Between you and your team
Let’s say you have a contractor who’s been doing some work for you for the last year or so. You get along well and share plenty of laughs. They always show up when you ask them to, and they always finish their work on time. Sounds ideal, right?
The only problem is that the quality of work they’re producing isn’t quite what you want it to be, and despite quarterly reviews and monthly or weekly check-ins, you feel like they just aren’t understanding your needs.
Contractor: Is there anything I could be doing better?
You: You’re doing great sweetie!
Contractor: *continues to deliver subpar work*
You: *resentful, frustrated, disappointed*
You continue to praise all of their work (even though you constantly have to add to it or make edits), you tell them there’s nothing they need to improve upon (you don’t want to discourage them), and you let it slide when a client makes a comment about their lack of professionalism or knowledge about your business (you can’t stand the thought of hurting their feelings.)
Unfortunately, this strategy is a recipe for the demise of the growth of your business.
Ignoring poor performance guarantees continued poor performance. If you want to see improvement in the quality of work your team is producing, you need to say so instead of assuming they can read your mind. This is imperative not only to the success of your company, but also to the trust your team has in you.
Between you and your partner at home (if you have one!)
You know the drill.
You got up at 5 to squeeze in a workout before the kiddos woke up. You ran around the house half-dressed for an hour making sure everyone had what they needed and was on time to get where they had to be. You might have remembered to inhale a protein bar. You might not have remembered to shower. You had a day filled to the brim with back-to-back client calls. And to top it all off, you’re launching a new program in two days that you need to double down on tonight after the kiddos go to bed.
But honestly, all of this feels like no big deal. You’ve been here before. It’s showbiz, baby!
Luckily for your sanity, your partner has more time than you do this week, and you’ve asked them to take care of dinner so that you can focus on biz and not have to worry about how you’re going to fuel yourself.
You’re starving by the time you wrap up your last call for the day, and head downstairs to eat with your family before tackling the loose ends for your launch. But when you round the corner to the kitchen, there’s nothing on the stove.
Partner: There you are! We’ve been getting hungry! What’s for dinner, honey?
You: ...I thought you were in charge of dinner.
Partner: Was I? Damn. Do you mind throwing something together? That way I can still get my bike ride in.
You: *seething, but agree to cook anyway*
I’ll repeat that: you agree to cook anyway!!!(???) You know that “throwing something together” is going to take at least an hour of the precious time you were protecting to finalize your launch, and you had made an agreement with your partner about who was taking care of dinner tonight.
Listen up, babe. Prioritizing your partner’s bike ride is not going to get your business where you want it to be.
And more importantly, letting it slide when your partner disrespects the boundaries you set around your time and needs sends the message that your time and needs aren’t as important as theirs are. Until you learn to respect your own boundaries, they will continue to ignore them, too.
Looking for support on how to build not only an equitable business, but one you're actually jazzed to show up for each day?
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