Business ownership without boundaries? … clusterf*ck.
And believe me, I should know, I spent the first 3-4 years as a business owner with next to no boundaries, ha! Man. Man, oh man. T’was the clusteriest of f*cks.
[think working 24/7, answering emails 24/7 and essentially saying “yes!” to ev-ery-thing].
Y’see, it most definitely took me those first 3-4 years to realise that a lack of boundaries almost always invites a lack of respect, and that lack of respect? … well, it can be diabolical for a business owner, and it certainly was for me. On the flipside, the more I began to respect a boundary enough to create one, the more I realised that they’re the ultimate self-care move.
Can I walk you through it? Please. Seriously. Lemme walk you through it, because if this here little blog post will spare a brand new’bie business owner [or even the fairly established business owner … but the fairly established business owner without boundaries insitu] from the kind of burnout you’ll ensure when you’re operating without boundaries? Well, I’ll consider it “job done” on my part, and I’ll be lookin’ forward to all o’ the good business karma that’ll undoubtedly come my way off the back of this boundaries-for-business-owners pep talk 😉
First up? You need to set “office hours”.
And this one’s hard to begin with, I get it.
Because seriously? The people find you everywhere these days. I’ve lost count of how many times someone’s emailed our hello@ email, and 0.05 seconds after that? … friend requested me on FB with a PM that says, “I’ve just emailed but haven’t yet heard back from you, but xyz / blah blah / etc.”
And I just think, “you emailed 0.05 seconds ago, and also? This is my personal Facebook account you’re friend requesting, where I share photos of my kids to my small FB friends list that’s mostly made up of family/friends”.
Guys? You need “office hours” because in the early days? You’re sitting at inbox zero and praying for emails. Heck, you’re praying for anything, ha! And so when you’re emailed? You reply within 0.05 seconds yourself, and – if you’re anything like me – you continue to do this for the first 3’ish years [when you’ve gone from 0 emails per day, to eleventy billion].
Start the same way you intend to finish, folks, i.e with healthy boundaries in place.
Office hours, ok? I know it’s exciting to get that 1am email in the early days, believe me, but #officehours.
Next up? You’ll want to schedule boundaries
This means a lot of things to me, tbh.
But it mostly means that I block out my calendar for untouchable time that can’t be touched by anything else, because it’s just too important. An example of this is that Wednesdays for me is basically-permanently-untouchable, because that’s where I map out all of TDP’s content [and associated strategy] … and that sh*t takes time.
Another idea [and one that I’m on the verge of implementing] is that I’ll be moving to an A week / B week schedule, so what this means is: on an A week I’m working on my business, and in a B week? Well, I’m working in it.
I’ll get back to you and let you know how it goes, but I’ve heard really good things about this movement – I imagine my ADHD brain will respond really well to that kinda boundary.
On it or in it, for the love of God, Clonan. #lol
And then? You’ll want to set email + text + social media notification boundaries
Look, I could give you my own tips on this … or I could just hook you up with this powerhouse article, which changed the game for me. I mean, with a title like “How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You” is it any wonder it didn’t go and change the lives of thousands? Millions, even [at last count].
It’s 2020, and 2020 business ownership means folks can be a notification in your beautiful-little-world seemingly 24/7 [if you allow that to be the case].
2020-Cherie has gone and got really strict with social media usage [and in particular? Notifications], because I’m a recovering perfectionist with epic people-pleasing traits, and yea. Just, yea. #lol.
Then? You’ll wanna set boundaries + expectations with clients
So here’s the thing, guys: owning a business does not’eth mean having an “open 24/7 sign” on your virtual door.
For eComm folk? This means respecting phone down time for yourself, and not getting back to every DM every night [I promise they’ll still buy that fluffy pink jumper if you hit them back the next day during business hours, and I moreso promise you that you’ll feel happier and healthier when you’re not seemingly on your phone 24/7 like a customer service robot. #truly].
And for our service-based providers? I’d implore you to think about developing a “welcome package”, which really-seriously-clearly outlines your working hours / expectations / relationship guidelines etc. Remember what I said at the start of this post about boundaries being like the ultimate command for respect? … you’ll never need that more, than in service-based provision land.
Homework for next week? … develop that welcome package. Srsly.
But there’s also such a thing as people management boundaries, too
… and this one took me a long time to figure out, because my team are everything to me.
I care about them so much, I actually had to stop for ten minutes whilst writing this post … just so I could look out the window and reflect on how legitimately lucky I am to have them on my team / in my corner / on my side / doing the good work that they do to continue to propel this business forward.
In saying that though, if you’re Founding Director and without people management boundaries? … hold on tight, that’s all I’m gonna say. #lol
People management boundaries for me look like: untouchable Wednesdays, disabling Slack notifications so I can dive in deep on deep-dive tasks without distraction, moving away from “roll awn in to my office at any time” and instead? “book this chat in with me, so I’ve got legitimate time to hear you out” etc. [you’ll find this move alone frees you up from the person who likes to sit and complain in your office a lot. Like, a lot. I’ve been there before, and it proper empath-wore-me-down. It was also the situation that had me moving away from “open door policy, 24/7” and more towards, “yep, let’s book that chat in!”].
People management boundaries for me also looks like: diverting away from negativity, so if you’ve got a team member who prefers negative conversation? … you respond with something along the lines of, “wow, I’m so sorry to hear that. Tell me about something good that happened to you today / this week” etc. This one’s important, because it not only steers away from the constant neg. / complain’y stuff that neg./ complain’y people lean towards [no matter how positive the environment] … but it’s also a power move that subtly lets the surrounding team know, “I’m not interested in the constant neg. stuff”.
[because honestly? … I’m not. I’ve read 50+ leaderships books – minimum – which all profoundly highlight just-how-damaging that kinda workplace personality is on a workplace culture].
And finally? People management boundaries look like caring, without fatigue’ing out. I’ve learnt [via my incredible business coach] that entrepreneurs are “fix-it people”, so if your people are sharing problems? … I’m wired to find the solution within 0.05 seconds. #truestory
Nowadays? I’ve learnt that there’s a middle part o’ that process that I’ve been completely ignoring, and it has everything to do with sitting in the discomfort between problem / solution.
Mull over that one, guys … because that alone is changing a lot for me, i.e not your job to fix everything, and especially not your job to hear problem after problem … and jump to 0.05 second solution, because that ain’t the long-term solution.
Please though, can we scream this one from, like, Times Square or somethin’ … because that’s what I wanted to do when my business coach shared this concept with me.
And finally? Your holidays are exactly that, i.e holidays
So feckin’ take them.
And feckin’ turn your notifications off.
And pop your OOO on.
And engage with your partner [if you have one].
And connect with your kids [if you have them].
And get drunk [if you don’t have a problematic history with alcohol].
And have holiday sex [best kinda sex, right?].
Because if you don’t do all o’ the above [and more] … you’ll burn out. So fast. And you’ll render yourself utterly useless to your business.
Whadd’ya reckon, guys?
Did I miss anything?
Let me know in the comments section below.