Welp, I went on a full on boundary rampage this week. (#boundaryrampage) I had to. I was feeling miserable, I was working too much, and I was hating all of it. I was essentially raging against the machine that is my business, and it wasn’t pretty.
Then, at some point (mid rage), I realized that I didn’t have to tolerate the misery. I just needed to put some boundaries in place. Boundary rampage commence!
Every business owner needs boundaries. It’s knowing when to recognize that you need them, or that they need to be redrawn, that’s key.
In my experience, there’s one pretty clear sign that you’ve got boundary issues, and it can be summed up in one word: dread.
If you no longer enjoy showing up to work, or if you find that you’d almost prefer getting a root canal than opening up your laptop, or if getting new business actually makes you bummed out (instead of happy), then it’s time to set some boundaries. They don’t have to be revolutionary, in fact, making practical tweaks can change your attitude and your business immensely.
Here are some of the boundaries I put in place just this week that might be helpful for you too.
- Establish new calendar rules. My calendar has been out of control lately, and it’s something that I complained about often but couldn’t quite get a handle on. During my rampage, I decided to set some new rules, including prohibiting calls on Mondays and Fridays, along with some other tweaks. Doing that made an IMMEDIATE DIFFERENCE for me and for my team. I felt relieved and invigorated knowing that I wouldn’t be overcommitted every single week and my team felt empowered to make the right scheduling decisions without fear of sending me over the edge. All in all, those small changes upped the positive energy for all of us.
- Implement an auto-reply email. We get an incredible amount of email and while I am so grateful that there is such demand for our expertise, answering so many individual questions via email everyday is inefficient and taxing. So we implemented a new autoresponder this week to efficiently provide our community with the answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive, and direct emailers to where they can find the information and resources that they are looking for. This way, we don’t have to fight the losing battle of responding to so many individual requests on a daily basis and we can focus on serving our community through Small Business Bodyguard and our other legal kits. (Plus, have more time to pursue other plans we have for total world domination, wink).
- Set criteria for interviews. In addition to requests for free legal advice, I also often get a lot of other media and interview requests that just aren’t a good fit for me or my business. So, I’ve decided to no longer do interviews unless they meet certain criteria. In order to enforce that rule, people have to fill out a media form before we will consider their request. As much as I enjoy interviews and sharing my insight with different audiences, in order to keep my mind and my business healthy, I have to put some kind of limits on my time and that means only doing interviews that serve my business.
- No more freebies! We always charge for strategy sessions and have done so for a while. But, quite often, after we’ve solved one legal problem for our clients, they’ll come back around and sneak in billable questions on unrelated matters. We usually answer them–because we love our clients and we’re nice like that–but it’s become a burden that we can’t sustain. Even the “quick questions” (and they are NEVER quick questions) take valuable time away from my team and are, if I’m being totally honest, a revenue leak. So, we’re now being strict about having clients–even former ones that we love so much– schedule strategy sessions when they want our opinions on new matters.
For me, it wasn’t enough to stop there. I realized that I also needed boundaries at home. For example, I created a boundary for myself that I don’t get my work day started until I’ve exercised. So, I no longer have the option to not exercise Monday thru Friday–it might be lifting, it might be long, hilly walks, but I have to do something. Putting the boundaries around my work calendar freed up time for me to make exercise a priority.
My husband and I also put the responsibility on our teenager to clean the kitchen every night and made it clear that she’s expected to do it without a reminder. If it doesn’t get done, then her butt is staying at home for the whole day. So, a clean kitchen means a great social life for her and a dirty kitchen means sofa city. This allows me to start my day without having to clean up from the previous night’s dinner. Again, more free time = more productive entrepreneur.
It’s only been a few days since I’ve put these boundaries in place, but I am feeling so relieved and legitimately so much happier.
You, like every entrepreneur, will at some point face a time when you are seeing the tell-tale sign of burnout, and it’s important to address it right away before you start fantasizing about burning your whole business down. When there is too much demand on your time and on your team, setting boundaries will make it harder for people to put their needs and priorities on your plate. This is especially true if you are a parent, because ultimately, without boundaries, what you lose is time with your kids. You also lose the peace of mind that you are providing properly for them, and all of that ultimately affects your health as well. Stress is a killer. Literally.
I know that it’s hard to say no to people. It’s also hard to disappoint people–and when you put boundaries in place both of those things will happen. But, I’d rather disappoint a few folks, or have them wait a little longer to have a consult with me, than not have time with my kids, and be overcome with stress, and not enjoy running my business and reach the goals I’ve set.
Because, ultimately, if I don’t take care of myself everything around me will suffer, including my business. I’ve worked too hard and have too many visions for the future to let that happen.
Do you have a goal of creating your own product? Could putting some boundaries in place ensure that you get your product (or any other important project you have) created and launched? If you’d like our help with your product creation dreams, check out our 8-week masterclass to creating your smash product, Multiply. We’re getting started this Tuesday, July 5th. There is just one spot left. Join us.