You have boundaries at home:
- You’ve taught the kids to knock before opening the bathroom door.
- Cell phones get turned in before sitting down to the dinner table.
- You’ve finally trained your spouse to get his dirty socks into the clothes hamper.
So why is it so difficult to establish and maintain boundaries in your business?
I think we’re so focused on success and people-pleasing that when something pushes our boundaries just a bit we’re not as likely to push back. Until the boundary lines are violated completely.
But productivity depends on boundaries. And when those boundaries start to bend and flow, productivity suffers.When boundaries start to bend and flow, productivity suffers.Click To Tweet
To establish your boundaries, know what your mission, vision and values are. Those are the guiding forces in your business every day, most importantly your values.
If raising your family and being present is one of your values, then you need to block off time for that in your calendar. I left corporate America to be a better mom and wife and showing up for my family was a huge priority for me. I block out from 3 to 9 p.m. every day so I can get my kids from school and drive them to their various sporting events.
This won’t be as big a priority as my kids grow and begin to drive themselves, so I can change this boundary when needed. But my clients are aware of this.
Communicating Boundaries to Clients
Open communication with your clients is always essential, but even more so when you’re laying out your boundaries. It’s not fair to them to feel resentment for blurring the lines if they don’t know where those lines are.Don’t resent clients for pushing your boundaries if you haven’t communicated the boundaries to them.Click To Tweet
It’s up to you how you communicate boundaries to your clients, but it needs to be part of your onboarding process. It can be as formal as spelling them out in your contract, which requires clients to sign off on them, or including them in your client welcome packet. Either way, you need to set those working expectations.
Another way to ease into a conversation about boundaries is to have your clients do my mission, vision and values exercise. If you’re working one-to-one with clients, you’ll want a better sense of their values anyway. This is a good way to get to know one another better and know what’s important in each other’s businesses.
Communicating Boundaries to Loved Ones
When I left corporate, my husband and I sat down to talk about what this would look like for our family. I wanted to go into business for myself so I could be there for my kids and family, but I also knew that I’d be working a lot of hours as my business got up and running. I told my husband that I was going to have to put in some crazy hours in the next few years and after talking we knew we could get on the same page.
Because we were able to have an open conversation about time and boundaries, I’m able to do the business traveling I need. He picks up the slack when I’m gone and there’s nothing that takes me away from my family and loved ones when I’m in town.
At the same time, my friends and extended family also respect my boundaries because they are firmly in place and I don’t sway from them.
Open conversations with family members and friends helps to solidify your business as a professional endeavor, rather than a hobby you do when you have time. (Because, let’s face it, you won’t ever make the time if everyone thinks it’s a hobby.) If you’ve had push-back from anyone, I urge you to put up boundaries that establish work hours and goals that are non-negotiable for you.
The more seriously you take your business and the better you communicate this to your clients and family members, the more secure you’ll feel in what you’re doing. You’ll gain time back in your business that you’d normally be fielding calls or having conversations that don’t help your bottom line. And you’ll be happier in the quality, structured time you have in business and in life.