Boundaries Help Your Business Mindset

Written by Tammy Durden

How does retaining boundaries help your business mindset? That is what I want to address in today’s articles. Let’s look at boundaries by definition and why it helps your business mindset.

As you know, I love definitions. I think it’s important to know the terms we are discussing and their meaning(s) so that we have a starting point to discuss this subject. In this case, it is “Personal Boundaries”.

I think Berkley University defines this perfectly. Even better is the resource from which the definition comes. In it, it discusses three types of personal boundaries including rigid, porous, and healthy boundaries. The resource lists the characteristics of all three under the corresponding type.

We need boundaries in our business just as we do in our personal lives.

You may find it difficult to assert your boundaries in both however you will soon find, through experience, that if you do not have boundaries in business you will suffer unnecessary pain. Boundaries help our business and our mindset when doing business with others.

You are probably asking what boundaries you need to set up in your business. Some boundaries relate to your personal space while others relate to interacting with others. You have to consider what is most important to you in your business. What are the absolutes that you don’t want to compromise? What are your priorities?

If for example, one of your priorities is being able to pick up your daughter at 2:30 PM at school then make it one of your boundaries that is not compromised. When you pick up your daughter do not answer the phone or email while she is getting in the car. Allow your focus to be on her and her alone while you have time with her. No client will ever be more important than your children and the priorities you set in your life.

Business boundaries can be similar to personal boundaries. Business boundaries, however, often revolve around the business needs and your needs within the business. This will help you keep a healthy mindset moving forward. These boundaries should help you keep a healthy mindset, honor your core values, and help you maintain your mission (in business).

  1. Type of Client(s) You Accept
  2. Setting Expectations
  3. Communications – How & When
  4. How to Deliver Your Services
  5. When to Deliver Your Services
  6. Quality of Services (Work)

The number one consideration, for me, is the type of client I will accept. You must be clear about who your ideal client is, also called the buyer persona. As a reader, you know my faith and although I don’t advertise saying I work with Christians only (because I truly do not differentiate) however, I would not want to work with a business that outright disparages that faith.

In fact, many clients come to me because I am a Believer as are they and they want to partner with someone who has the same morals. If I meet with someone whose business disputes or tries to harm those beliefs then we simply would not be a good fit and I would not work with them.

Knowing the type of clients that are a perfect fit helps to save you much grief in the long run. Usually, however, we find this out by trying and suffering consequences. I encourage you to set boundaries in your business. The absolutes that you will not falter on when working with others.

One of the first things I consider regarding boundaries is setting proper expectations for your clients. Have your scope of work, when you will deliver services, and other terms written out in a contract.

Often it is about avoiding conflict. So by having a contract, you hope to avoid conflict in the future. As well as define all expectations for both parties. This will give clear expectations for both you and your client.

Make certain you also define the dollar amount you will receive documented in the contract as well. Therefore, by delivering your services you will be entitled to receive the amount agreed upon. Both parties understand what is expected of each other.

It is necessary to set expectations related to your team for similar reasons. Making your expectations known in the beginning will keep misunderstandings to a minimum. Discussing them when bringing a new team member is helpful, however, having documented boundaries in their onboarding paperwork will help you both keep the boundaries you set for your business, your clients, and your team.

Within your team onboarding documents, it is best to leave a line next to the boundaries you have laid out for them to initial. I’ve found that this highlights important items you want the team member to especially pay attention to when reading over them.

Communication with clients is key to maintaining a healthy business mindset. Whether you document this in the contract or not you will still be expected to communicate in some form.

I include a “Client Intake” form for my clients to complete within my onboarding documents. One of the questions on the form is “How do you prefer to communicate?” I then put possibilities in parathesis to choose from such as text, email, phone, and others.)

Keep in mind, if you respond to a type of communication you don’t want to use you are agreeing to do it anyway. For instance, if you prefer not to receive or communicate via text messages all hours of the day yet you respond to the client with a text they will assume you are fine with that type of communication. Instead, respond via email letting them know you received the text but do not respond to communications in that way.

Another mistake in communicating with your client can be responding after hours. If you’ve told your client (in the contract or otherwise) that your hours end at 5:00 PM and they email you at 5:30 PM and you respond to it you’ve broken one of your boundaries.

Clients often send messages when it is convenient for them or when they are thinking about it. It does not mean you must respond right away. If you set up working time boundaries then do not respond until the next day. Most of the time it is so they can communicate about something and get it out of their head. If you feel compelled to answer it but want to maintain your boundary you can reply but do schedule the sending of it until the next day. Most email systems allow this today.

To help your business mindset this is imperative.

This is setting yourself up for difficulties that are needed. Keep your boundaries to keep your mindset clear.

How you deliver your online services can also be one of your boundaries. You may have a special cloud platform you use or email your clients. If you are a social media manager you likely have an online social media calendar that you populate before the month begins. This is how you deliver your services and your client must be willing to go on that platform to approve your posts. This should also be agreed on and discussed before they become one of your clients.

Another boundary you can set in your online service business is the delivery of your services (or products). This should be recorded in a contract as well however if a project is added on or a client comes back for more work and you do not formally document it please make sure it is agreed on in an email or project management system showing both of you read it.

Keeping your services delivered on time will save you heartache and yes, conflict.

You may think that quality of service is a given, however, this should also be introduced to your team and clients making them aware. You could also have a client who wants a project delivered more quickly and quality is second.

If you’ve set your business up to be known for your quality work you will not want to work with anyone who values speed over quality. Set up boundaries for you and your team related to the quality of services.

To stay mentally healthy it is necessary to set boundaries. You may not be aware of the boundaries you set with others at times. You may very well have stringent boundaries set up for your protection.

Be mindful of your boundaries as walk through your day. Pay attention to the boundaries you have and may not have realized. Make note of these so it will be easier to include them in your onboarding for clients and team members.

Pay Attention Throughout Your Day – What was important to you about that boundary? Did it involve someone else or simply the time or way you work?

When someone pushes against your boundaries you may want to retreat or you may have the opposite reaction and want to fight. Most times boundaries are set to avoid future conflict which in turn keeps your mindset healthy and focused.

You have a prospective meeting with someone and they are ready to work with you. You, however, had red flags go up in your mind during the entire meeting. And this type of client industry is not one you prefer to work with in the end. You sent an email thanking them but letting them know (nicely) that will not be able to work with them.

The prospective client may come back in communication with you pleading for your help. It is uncomfortable and just want it to go away. Sometimes they do not.

Best Response: No Response – yes, after you have told them you cannot work with them then do not continue to respond to their pleading requests as you only keep the pain and uncomfortableness going. If you stop responding they will finally get the message. It is not easy to take no action but in this case it is probably the best action you can take. I know this isn’t easy as I’m the one who continues to respond to messages from the oil rigger admiral who thinks I’m lovely <wink> just to try to let him down easily even though I know it’s a scam of some sort. So I do understand the amount of resolve it takes to keep your boundaries.

Does it mean you will be able to keep them every time? For goodness sake, NO! You are not perfect and will not always keep your business boundaries. Do know, however, that when you do not keep them you are cracking into your business mindset and taking a little sliver from it.

When we give in and do not keep our boundaries, for example, we are allowing others to walk over us and our boundaries. This diminishes your value as well. When we are not consistent in maintaining our boundaries and expectations then your clients begin to think less of you and the business because of the inconsistencies.

By keeping your business boundaries you are acting consistently and become more indispensable. Why? Because your clients count on the fact that you do what you say you are going to do.

We are certainly not perfect and will not always manage our boundaries well. I like what PsychCentral says about this:

“One of the most common reasons for not setting boundaries is a fear of conflict. You dont want to upset or anger people, so you sacrifice your own needs and wants to keep the peace. Its tempting to return to passivity when others dont like your boundaries. However, even when your boundaries provoke anger or resistance, it doesnt mean you shouldnt set them. It means that you need to ask for help and take steps to keep yourself safe (such as not being alone with a person who is threatening, aggressive, or volatile). Sometimes it helps to remember that when people resist your boundaries, its confirmation that the boundaries are needed.”

PsychCentral

Are you sacrificing your own business needs and your own business mindset? Yes, when we allow others to bend or invade the boundaries we have set up we in essence permit them to do it again and again.

Recovering after a boundary has been broken is as much about mindset as anything. Remind yourself that you will do better next time. You should also know that nobody is perfect and it is not possible to always keep your boundaries. The key is that when you do keep them it reinforces your business mindset. So that when you rarely break a boundary you have enough resolve saved up to know you will set about to keep it in the future.

We all learn the hard way. I wish it wasn’t so but I know all too well from experience that we all do this. I often ask God if I can just apply the Word rather than have to learn it through experience. The thing is that when we learn it by experience we remember it. It is imprinted on our minds. Then we will do better the next time because we do not want to feel the way we did when had to experience it.

It may sound contrary to the word itself but setting boundaries gives us freedom. By having boundaries in place we have the freedom to work within those and this makes us feel free. This also lifts our minds and moods and helps our business mindset.

Here’s hoping you can keep your business boundaries and maintain a good business mindset, my friends.

Until Next Time My Friends,

with love from Tammy Durden of Fearless Business Boss

Tammy Durden is a thought leader, speaker, and business coach for online service providers, online coaches, freelancers, virtual assistants, OBMs, and other small businesses. Tammy has established herself as an authority figure over the last 16 years in the online service industry. Her leadership is evident through her speaking and teaching audiences on topics such as business startups business growth, digital marketing strategies, how to set up your packages and pricing strategies, and scaling your business by adding a virtual team.

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