Boundaries in Business. Let's talk about them.
They're as important in business as they are in your everyday life.
When running a business, there can be so many things to manage, so setting clear boundaries will allow you to eliminate many issues and be more effective and efficient with your time. They are not only an integral part of self-care but they also help to set and manage the expectations of clients, family, and friends. When you don’t set boundaries people take advantage of it.
What are some of the signs of insufficient boundaries?
Your energy is depleted.
You experience burnout.
You get resentful of clients and others who put demands on your time.
Your life away from business suffers.
So how do you determine what boundaries to set in place?
Work out what aspects of your business you are not willing to negotiate on without a consequence.
Start with the aspects of your business that are not negotiable, remembering that once you have created the expectations it is more difficult to step backward from these – it's the old adage – under-promise and over-deliver - not vice versa.
The types of boundaries you implement may include:-
Boundaries related to Services Provided and Payment Terms, Your Time and Accessibility, Personal Boundaries, Staff Boundaries.
The days and hours you are available to clients.
How frequently do you reply to emails.
Whether or not your emails can be accessed from your phone.
What days or hours do you dedicate to working “on” your business not “in” it.
Closing the office at a certain time every day so everyone can have an uninterrupted lunch break.
Every staff member has the day off for their birthday.
Saying “no” to potential vampire clients. You know the ones. They suck the life out of you and you regret ever taking them on.
Late fee when the payment terms are not adhered to.
The list is endless but, importantly, this is your business so it’s your way. You can be as serious or as fun-loving as you want with your non-negotiables.
Communicate these non-negotiables relevant parties
Clearly communicate these non-negotiables with clients so they will respect you and your time. Where possible, include them in service agreements.
You also need to communicate them to your family and friends. They need to know your business needs and rules, too, so they will respect you and your business. If you work from home it’s too easy for family and friends to drop by or to have the expectation that you’re available to do x,y, or z.
If you choose to give a client some degree of flexibility when it comes to your boundaries, make sure they are aware that you have gone out of your way to accommodate them and that there will be a price to pay – whatever price you determine, given the circumstances.
If you give into a client once, and there are no consequences, they will continue to push the limits. It’s simply human nature.
You may think that allowing clients to phone you at 8 am on a Sunday morning may seem to be providing customer service. However, once they have phoned you half a dozen times on a Sunday morning the essence of customer service will be long gone and will result in your frustration and resentment.
When you initially set and adhere to firm boundaries it may feel awkward but, over time, your confidence will increase, and as your business evolves so will your boundaries. By implementing boundaries from the start you educate clients, family, and friends so that they understand the expectations and you avoid possible burnout and resentment.