How to Set Boundaries for Entrepreneurs
Do you let your clients walk all over you?
Are you replying to client calls on Sunday night?
Are you secretly starting to hate your business?
What about those bastards that want to pick your brain for free?
Don’t worry, you can fix this by setting better boundaries!
why we need boundaries
Before we get into how to set boundaries, take a second to think about why we resist setting up boundaries in the first place.
Maybe because you’ve been taught to be generous, and generosity with free content is supposed to lead to sales. Maybe you’ve learned to “be nice” as so many women have been taught by their environment.
However, not having proper boundaries in place only makes you less able to do good work. Answering that “Oh hey, how did you build your entire business?” question comes at the cost of writing a blog post that could help everyone in your community. Replying to emails on Sunday night hurts your clients, because you’ll be too tired to show up for them 100% on Monday morning. Boundaries are not a burden, they set you free to create better.
how do you set boundaries?
So now that you’re convinced you need boundaries, how do you go about setting them? I think there are 3 essential categories of boundaries to get started with:
boundaries around your time
boundaries around your money, and
boundaries around other people.
We’ll look at each one separately.
boundaries around time
Let’s start with boundaries around your time: first of all, decide when you work and when you don’t work. Rest and relaxation are an important part of recovery, so not working is an important part of the process, especially as a creative.
Then inform your clients of your work policies - this isn’t being mean, this is being kind! This way they know what to expect from you up front, decide on the following things:
How should your clients contact you?
What’s your general response time?
What are your working hours?
What happens if they miss a deadline or a call?
If they’re existing clients, just shoot them a kind, personalised email saying “Hi, just wanted to inform you that form this date on these are our new opening hours. Here’s what to expect from us moving forward.”
boundaries around money
Next up are boundaries around your money. Oh guys, money is such an interesting one!
If you sell services, let’s start with a new boundary around scope creep! We’ve all had projects that go way out of bounds, and quickly! Start practising sending emails saying, “Absolutely we can help you with that, here’s what it will cost.”
Also work out a proper financial plan and budget, think about things like getting a business loan, large investments you have coming up, paying yourself a salary, do you offer discounts?
Deciding on your money boundaries in advance will save you from feeling flustered and getting caught unprepared by things!
Boundaries around other people
So now it’s time to talk about boundaries around other people.
Once you start deciding your own hours, it’s like everyone can smell it. “Hey want to go for lunch on a random Thursday?” “Can you walk my dog every Monday?”
Remember those office hours? It’s time to enforce them now. Say something along the lines of “I’ll be working during that time, but this is an alternative time I can do” (only add the alternative if you want to, don’t feel pressured into saying yes if it’s not something you actually want to do).
As a positive note, I also set “lower limits” for myself. Which means I have boundaries around how many days I can spend cooped up behind my desk, how long I can go without seeing my friends, when I’m allowed to work on the weekends etc.
Having these boundaries sets me free, to create and perform to the best of my abilities.