When you’re starting and growing a business, boundaries can become fluid or nonexistent. I was talking with a former entrepreneur who recently took a corporate job, and she commented that one of the things she likes is there is now an end to the day for her.
This got me thinking about some of the boundaries I need to firm up between me the person and me the business owner. Here are some lines in the sand you may need to draw:
1. How much time you invest in your business
This is a brutal one for entrepreneurs, especially if you work from home. The workday can easily bleed into the working evening, and even into the late-night obsession.
I like to break up my day with a midday walk or short outing. I feel I return clearer and more focused.
However, I would be better off if I set a cutoff time for working hours and incorporated some ritual or reminder for the end of the working day, helping me transition to my personal time.
Often, my “personal time” is spent watching training videos or catching up on writing. This boundary is something I need to work on. Maybe you do, too.
Also included is how much time you spend with clients. If you clearly communicate how much access to you your clients have and during what days / hours, I have found that people respect the boundaries.
If someone steps over the line more than once or twice, you may need to rethink whether you want them as a client.
2. What you sell and don’t sell
As a service provider with 30 years of experience, I have done a lot of things and COULD provide many services to clients.
Over time, I have narrowed down my service offerings on both the career transition and business consulting sides of my business. My personal experience is I quickly feel overworked and overwhelmed when I try to market / deliver too many things to too many target markets.
When you launch your business, you need to bring money into your business quickly. It can seem like anyone with a pulse and a bank account is a good prospect, but please believe me that going narrow and deep is the faster path to success.
Determine who your ideal client is and what problem they are willing to spend money to solve. That is the right place to focus.
And please know that entrepreneurs are prone to chasing the next shiny service offering or product. We love to build and launch things. Watch out for that.
3. Who you work with and won’t work with
Few people hire me when things are going well. My ideal prospects reach out when things aren’t working in their career or business. I can quickly get someone out of a slump if they are ready to make changes, and if they are open to new ways of doing and seeing things.
What I can’t do is work with people who blame others and don’t take responsibility. Or people who keep telling me what I am suggesting didn’t work for them in the past or can’t work for them now. These people need to work with someone else. They exhaust me.
I live by Michael Port’s Red Velvet Rope Policy, and you might want to as well. It can save your sanity.
Boundaries are important, and you need to get really clear on what you will and will not accept in your life and business.
If at some point you find yourself irritated or exasperated, the first place to look is whether you have allowed yourself or someone else to cross a boundary.