Why it’s important to set boundaries in business and how to do it

Picture of by Ros Jones

by Ros Jones

Business coach and author

It can be easy to immerse ourselves completely into our business to the detriment of our own personal life, health and wellbeing. This is why it’s so important to set boundaries from the start of your business journey.

When we start our business it’s the most exciting time. We are on a mission to deliver our product or service and it can become all we think about, day and night. It’s inevitable. We say yes to everything and everyone without setting boundaries.

However, over a protracted period of time, this can become a problem for ourselves, those close to us and also our customers.

Without boundaries, you can find yourself saying yes to everyone regardless of whether you have the time, energy or resources to deliver on whatever you said yes to.

Saying yes to everything can then lead to double booking and you having to go back to the individual to apologise and rearrange, inability to deliver on time, overwhelm and exhaustion.

Having no clear boundaries can lead to you feeling resentful that you’re doing all the giving without receiving anything in return. It can also lead to you failing to honour agreements you made with family and friends so that they begin to resent the time you spend on your business and you end up feeling guilty and overwhelmed.

Here are 7 ways you can set up boundaries in your business.

  1. Know your values

Your boundaries will be aligned to your values.

If it’s important to you that you eat an evening meal with your family, one boundary will be the time you finish work to enable you to have that family time.

If it’s important to you that you spend some time in quiet reflection every day, that too will help you create a boundary to allow that to happen.

  1. Know there is enough

Be clear about how many customers you can serve to the standard you promise. Set up a waiting list when you reach that limit.

Know that there is enough for everyone so resist the urge to say you can deliver because you don’t want to lose a customer.

If the customer genuinely wants to buy from you, they’ll be happy to go on a waiting list for a time when you can deliver to them.

We’ve all had experiences of trades people who promise they can fix your roof/install your new bathroom/plaster your wall and then never turn up or, worse, start the job and fail to finish it because they’re too busy with other customers. Don’t be like one of those trades people who get a bad reputation for failing to deliver.

  1. Learn to say no more

Saying yes to everything will leave you double booked, having to go back to apologise, letting people down and causing you stress. It’s important to learn to be able to express gratitude for the opportunity but to say, “No, not right now.”

  1. Be clear about your price

Do not under value yourself just because you can’t bear to lose a customer who says they can’t afford you. See above on knowing there is enough for everyone. If someone seriously can’t afford your price, refer them to another business who does a cheaper (inferior quality) version of what you do. Perhaps you could also agree a referral programme so you earn easy money by referring them on.

  1. Get good at communicating expectations upfront

Being sure to communicate your expectations upfront is the best way to set boundaries in your business relationships. This includes expectations from your customers as well as with your team. Begin the relationship by setting out and agreeing ‘this is what you can expect from me, and this is what I expect from you’.

With your customers, be clear about payment terms, your availability, when you’ll respond to emails and what guarantees you can offer.

With your team members, be clear about when they should come to you for answers (after they’ve tried figuring it out for themselves), what you expect them to achieve on a daily basis and when you cannot be disturbed.

  1. Set boundaries between business and home

It can be easy to allow the lines between home and work to get blurred. Setting boundaries between work and home is even more important with so many people operating from their home.

  1. Taking care of your personal health and wellbeing

It’s impossible to work solely on your business with complete disregard for your personal life. It’s unsustainable. We need to be looking after our own health and wellbeing, nurturing our personal relationships and honouring our commitments to friends and family.

Be sure to schedule time in your diary for your own personal health and wellbeing, whatever that means to you. Maybe you need to block out time for physical exercise whether that’s time in the gym, going for a run or a bike ride or just a walk in nature. Perhaps it’s just taking 10 minutes every day to meditate or write in your journal. Taking some time to spend on yourself is vital for the long term.

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy my blog on How to get more Balance in Business and Life. Feel free to get in touch




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