There is a big myth about running your own business that you may be able to relate to. It goes something, “Things will be wonderful if I ran my own business. I’d have so much freedom and control over my life”.
The reality for me is that being an entrepreneur and running my own business is the most difficult and hardest I have worked in my entire life. Working in Corporate America was also challenging; however, at the end of the day, I went home, all was well, the work was completed and I could count on a fat paycheck.
If you are feeling as though your business is controlling you (rather than being in control of it), get ready to take back control of your business.
What I have found working with female entrepreneurs for nine years is that they are often creating business plans or looking at their business strategy. They are looking at how they are managing their time and which tasks they should focus on. They tell me that they had all of these perfect plans in place; however, they haven’t been able to follow through with them. Some of the questions that come up for them are:
- How do I stick to a plan?
- How do I maintain my model calendar when I have clients who are constantly canceling or missing appointments or needing me to adjust and they’re not getting into my ideal calendar?
- What do I do when I have all these unexpected things pop up? How do I handle that? Because that is what is preventing me from actually sticking to my plan and remaining accountable.
- How do I make sure that I an doing important work I need to do.
- How can I make sure that my time and my energy is protected?
If this sounds familiar and you have experienced feeling as though your week was completely thrown off because of demands on your time and energy from others, then we need to discuss boundaries. I feel like this is the unsaid part of running a business. We all talk about you need to have a marketing strategy, a sales strategy, and a customer experience strategy. But a big part of customer experience is having clear boundaries in place so you can know in advance how you’re going to handle situations. And you’re actually able to prevent a lot of these problems before they ever occur. Setting proper boundaries is key if you want to take back control of your business.
If you are unfamiliar with boundaries, just think of a fence. This is where you communicate that “this is what works for me”. And you are putting up a hard fence (i.e. a hard stop or line in the sand) saying, “This is what is acceptable. This is what I will say yes to. And this is what I cannot say yes to”.
It’s all about clarity. In Brene Brown’s latest book, Dare to Lead, she says,
Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. Clarity is key.
And that means being kind to yourself as well. Many women have been conditioned from a young age to:
- be the good girl
- accommodate everyone’s needs (except her own)
- adjust her schedules to really fit in with whatever other people ask of her
- endlessly bend over backwards.
And as a result, when we step into business it becomes a problem because those people-pleasing tendencies begin to burn us out. We start saying “yes” where we really need to say “no” because we aren’t 100 percent clear about the trade off. I have a newsflash for you: Every time you say “yes”, there is a trade off. When you say “yes” to someone seeing you at 8:00 pm, the trade off may be that you don’t get to kiss your children before bedtime and read a good story.
There is always a trade off.
For example, I’m quite selective about which clients have my personal telephone number. I also decided a long time ago to decline evening meetings so I can enjoy evenings with my family. We will all have slightly different boundaries. You may more accommodating in some areas than me. Perhaps there are some areas where you have to be a lot stricter than others. You will set them as you see fit in order to take back control of your business.
Without those boundaries in place, it’s so easy to feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted because everyone else’s priorities come before your own needs.
Boundaries are about having clarity on what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. What works for you and what doesn’t work for you. When you have clear boundaries in place, then you are able to set clear expectations to your clients, to your community, and it makes your life much easier. Boundaries will not only level up your business, but they also dramatically enhance your overall quality of life.
In the next three posts I will introduce you to a businesswoman’s best friend: boundaries. You will learn about the three different types of boundaries that come up for you:
- Your calendar
- Your connections
- Your clients/customers
If now is a great time to reevaluate your boundaries to take back control of your business and design it to support YOUR needs, be sure to visit again.