A Guide to Setting And Protecting Boundaries in Your Business

Did you read my blog “Why You And Your Business Need Boundaries Right Now”? If you didn’t, you can read it here.

Everybody needs boundaries.

You know that feeling when someone behaves towards you in a way that makes you upset or uncomfortable? Yeah, that’s a boundary being crossed.  You know how you want other people to behave towards you but having boundaries is much easier than enforcing them.  

Your business, your rules

The joy of having your own business is being able to set your own rules, but so often people end up following other people’s rules instead. Have fun with your business rules.

Create a fantasy perfect life and business where you only say yes to what you want and say no to everything you don’t.  Imagine a magic wand was waved and you could have everything you want, how many hours a day would you work? How many days a week? How much time off would you take?

Who do you want to work with? What type of clients do you want and who don’t you want to work with?

What forms of communication do you enjoy and what feels like hard work?  Don’t worry about whether it is possible or how to make it happen, just get clear on what you actually want. Don’t be held back by what other people do.  Your business is yours alone.  It’s up to you to choose how you live and ultimately you are only responsible for yourself.

Establishing your boundaries.

  1. Go Public; If you need to publish your new business rules do it. Definitely talk about them. Think about how you onboard new clients, what your payment terms are, what turnaround times you want to commit to. Even more important (but often not thought of until something happens) what your returns and/or refund policy might be. 
  2. Practise saying “No”;  What are the instances in which you will want to say no but know you will struggle with? Plan ahead what you are going to say. Do you constantly get invited to “catch-ups”, coffee with people who want to “pick your brain” and networking meetings and then struggle to find time to get your work done? Try saying ‘thanks for the invite, that sounds lovely. I need to check my diary before I actually commit to it’. Or if you really want to put your brave pants on you could even try the truth… “Thanks but I don’t have time for that at the moment”
    The world won’t end.
    If you keep getting asked for discounts then I recommend a short and sweet “Sorry, I don’t offer discounts”. It’s not rude to say “No”, at least not as rude as it is to ask in the first place.
  3. Pro bono versus charged; Only you can decide what is the right balance for you on what you will do for free vs what is paid. There is no right or wrong, there is only what works for you and your bottom line. I do plenty of stuff for free when it serves a purpose. I speak at networking events, do guest expert spots and add value in my responses to questions in (mostly paid) Facebook groups.

I will often use guinea pigs (early adopters)  to try out a new service and I have offered coaching for free too. I’ve just been very selective about who I’ve offered it to. Some of my close business buddies have had plenty of free stuff because I care about them. I also trust them to give me honest feedback and I enjoy working with them. My rules are that I have to gain something from it. That doesn’t make me ruthless, it makes me focused. And besides which, the thing I get back from it can be fun and enjoyment – it doesn’t have to be cold hard cash.

People will only treat you in the way that you allow them to.  If you’re going to have business rules and you don’t stick to them they’re pointless.  Protect your boundaries and your clients will know where they stand. 

Need help getting clear on your boundaries?  Book a power hour here and let’s get clarity on your business rules.

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