Implementing Boundaries In Your Business

It’s so easy to let boundaries slip in your business.

One minute you’re answering emails and tweets occasionally on the weekends and the next thing you know you feel like you’re never switched off from your business.

Client sessions are happening at all random times of the day, you’re answering customer service emails on the weekend and your family holiday is consumed by business emergencies.

You might think to yourself – “it doesn’t hurt to quickly nip in my inbox and answer a few emails, this is the beauty of working from home!

Whilst initially it might be somewhat of a novelty to be able to do this, long term it can have a really detrimental effect on your family life and your own well being.

I can definitely speak from experience here – I’ve been at that point where you spend day after day pretty much permanently sat at the laptop. Your loved ones will eventually tire of never seeing you in anything but “work mode” and that frazzled feeling you get from all work and no play is completely draining.

Establishing good boundaries for your business can be tough – it is so, so tempting to “just do one more task” or “just do this very small job for client x” – especially when all you want to do is a great job for your customers and clients!

As unnatural and difficult as it may feel for you to do, I can say with confidence that putting boundaries in place has actually made my business even better! I have amazing clients who respect me and my business 100% and I have a ton more energy to literally jump into my work each day!

So the big question is – how can you implement boundaries in your business?

Here are my top tips for how you can get started implementing boundaries in your business:

Create A Schedule (and stick to it!)

This first tip, in my opinion, is where everyone needs to start. You need to sit down and figure out when you want to work and when you don’t.

Open up Google Calendar and print out a week planner (or just type it straight onto the calendar itself).

Setting Boundaries In Your Business Calendar

The first priority is to put all your important personal and family commitments on there first (eg dance lessons, school pick ups, yoga class, doctor’s appointment etc). I don’t know about you but I work my butt off in my business so that I can have a great lifestyle – having time for the things that are important to me is part of that great lifestyle so I make sure those things are a priority for me.

With the time you now have left free on your calendar you need to plan out the times you will work on your business. NOTE: it should not be every minute of the free time left – the goal here is not to schedule yourself to the max!

Maybe you work best in the evenings? Early mornings? Only you can decide what works best for you. If you’re not sure just plot out a plan and give it a try – you can always change it if you find you need to tweak it.

Done that? Now you need to stick to it. (Believe me it will be very tempting to just ignore it and go back to constant working!)

Set Expectations

Do you ever have those days (or weeks) where people are emailing you what seems like dozens of time per day for constant updates or information? Not that you don’t want to help but a barrage of emails can quickly get incredibly overwhelming.

A lot of the time when you feel like you’re fire fighting interruption after interruption it’s because the client/customer doesn’t know what to expect. When people don’t know what to expect they can get anxious or nervous which inevitably leads to the email after email scenario.

Taking a little time to set out expectations for your customers can really help to keep things calm for your business. Whenever a client/customer contacts you, an autoresponder acknowledging their message and outlining your standard response times (eg 24-48 hours, Mon-Fri) will give them the reassurance that you’ll be in touch.

Some other ways you can set expectations are:

  • Creating a thank you page after purchase that tells the customer what will happen next. What documentation will they receive, when will they receive their purchase, etc.
  • After someone has subscribed to your list, outlining in your welcome email how often they’ll get contact from you – is it once a month, once a week? If they know you’ll be in touch each week they are less likely to sit wondering “why do they keep emailing me every week?” or “why haven’t they sent me an email since last Monday?” etc.
  • After a discovery/consultation call letting your client know they’ll receive an email summary of the discussion from you within 24 hours. Rather than leaving them to sit there wondering what happens now, they’ll know to keep an eye on their inbox!

Teach People How To Do Business With You

Following on from the previous tip, teaching people how to do business with you is a really important step too.

With the presence of social media in our lives today we have more inboxes than ever to check! It’s no longer as simple as checking an answerphone and an email inbox. Now you need to add Facebook messages, Facebook Page messages, Tweets, DMs, Instagram DMs, Instagram mentions, Pinterest messages and LinkedIn messages! Overwhelm central!

Decide which ways you would like to be officially contacted for conducting business and teach people to use those methods.

In my other business, Virtually Angels, I decided that my website contact forms and a support email inbox were the methods I wanted people to use to set up projects and support packages with my business.

Now that’s not to say that if somebody messages me on Facebook I won’t reply. Quite the opposite – I simply have a brief response that directs them to the enquiry form I use (which asks a few questions about their business, etc).

I’ll quite happily briefly chat with people via social media but I have made a firm decision that I won’t have extensive chats about the project details in there.

Sit down and decide what ways you prefer people to engage and do business with you and then go through everything in your business and make sure it’s crystal clear what steps people need to take to do business with you.

Implementing boundaries in your business won’t make your schedule completely rigid. You still have the freedom to work whenever you want and move your schedule around if you need to (I do this often when random appointments crop up). But implementing boundaries with your customers and clients will give you the break that you need to be with your family and rejuvenate.

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Do you have any other ways you’ve successfully implemented boundaries in your business? Let’s share them in the comments below for everyone to learn from!