How To Hold Healthy Boundaries In Your Business
We all talk about them. We know we should have them. We even get angry if someone crosses one of the boundaries we have set for ourselves.
But, when it comes to enforcing them in our business, logic seems to disappear out the window.
We can all agree that having healthy boundaries is super important in business, just as it is in life.
However having a boundary is only useful if you actually uphold it! Otherwise it just becomes a source of anger and frustration.
Making your boundaries known is a vital step in the equation.
If people don't know what your boundaries are, how can you expect someone to respect them?
So, let’s look into how you can define what your boundaries are, as well as the best way to enforce and uphold them.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
When I talk about setting boundaries in your business, the process doesn’t have to involve an official rule book that you follow to a tee. It is more about creating a balance between what you want your worklife to look like and still being able to deliver excellent customer service.
The first step in setting healthy boundaries is to decide the things that are really important for you to uphold - they could be your personal values, your time commitment, or the priorities you want to have.
Make sure you centre in on key aspects like why you started your business in the first place, and how certain aspects of the business make you feel. Then, you can be confident you're covering off the things that matter to you the most when setting your boundaries.
Remember, these are YOUR boundaries, so YOU get to define them.
Don’t create a list of boundaries you think you ‘should’ have. Rather, focus on building boundaries that will help you build your ideal business.
If you only want to work 3 days a week so you can align with your family’s schedule, then do it! If you want an office day with no client interruptions, then factor one in. And, if you only want to work specific hours, then set them and stick to them.
Honing Your Boundary Holding Skills
How many times have you “set a boundary” but at the first instance of it being challenged, you let it slide?
I know, it can be so easy to do!
And I can say, being a mum of a young child has definitely tested MY boundary holding skills!
But just like kids, clients (and pretty much anyone we are in a relationship with) will test and push our boundaries at times.
Just the other day my daughter decided she wanted to play "just one more round" of Hungry Hippos before bed. We'd had so much fun playing it earlier in the day that she figured she could get away with a few more goes and put off bed time a little longer.
And it would have been so easy to cave. After all, I mean, we were having fun!
But, that wasn’t what we had agreed. We'd already agreed on 5 rounds as a special treat, and you KNOW that just one more wasn't going to cut it! Either way tears would ensue, so I held on to my boundary and said no more.
It’s OUR job to hold firm so they know those boundaries are real and we mean it.
I know this isn’t always easy. But it is necessary.
Holding Firm On Your Boundaries
For me, what I find helpful, is to have a plan for HOW I will hold on to that boundary BEFORE it’s tested.
That way when it inevitably is, I already know what to say and do to protect it. I do this both in my business and in my home life.
Having a plan for how you will protect your boundary stops us from doing a knee-jerk reaction, which is usually to fall back to our default “whatever is easiest/don’t rock the boat” position.
So, how do you make a plan to enforce a boundary?
Here are 3 examples of how you can hold on to the boundaries in your business:
Boundary Number 1:
Boundary: You don’t reply to emails over the weekend.
How To Hold It:
Set up and automated “Out Of Office” clearly explaining your office hours.
When a client emails you over the weekend - don’t reply (they already got the out of office explaining your working hours and when you will reply)
If this happens a lot, block out time in your diary on Monday morning to reply to emails so YOU know you have time allocated
Boundary Number 2:
Boundary: No longer replying to constant client messages or doing extra work for free.
How To Hold It:
Be clear in your quote / scope of work what IS and is NOT included in the price (that includes replying to adhoc messages).
Include an optional upgrade for “Messaging Support” or any other common additional work requests, with a clear definition on what is included AND the investment.
When a client keeps messaging or asks for additional work you reply “I love that you have all these extra questions/deliverables you want to get done. Why don’t we upgrade you to our Messaging Support package so you can get the additional support you need. The investment for this is $$.”
Boundary Number 3:
Boundary: No refunds
How To Hold It
Make it clear to the client BEFORE they pay that there are no refunds.
When a client requests a refund, refer them to where you clearly stated “no refunds”
Use a phrase like “thanks for sharing where you’re at. However we have a clear no refunds policy and it would be out of integrity for me to refund you when it’s not something we offer to others.”
What Do Your Boundaries Look Like?
Now it’s your turn!
The above are some common boundaries that my clients set themselves, but yours might look completely different.
Think about these things:
What boundaries do you want to set or are often broken in your business (or life!!)?
What could you do differently next time to help you hold that boundary?
Now write that down.
Writing your boundaries down helps to reinforce the ideas in your mind. It also means you can regularly refer back to them to ensure you are sticking to your own rules.
Setting boundaries is not about making things difficult for people, it is about preserving your energy levels and mental space.
Which boundaries do you struggle with in your business?
I’d love to help you make it workable. Book a time to chat with me today, because YOU are worth it!