I wrote this blog as a Note to Self. Some of my business boundaries are in need of repair. So I’m putting this out in the world. If you get any benefit out it, I will be thrilled. Because there will be more people in the world doing great things while respecting their own time, energy, money – and boundaries.
Are Your Business Boundaries Sabotaging Your Income?
Would you love to earn more money as a business owner? I think we would all like that! If you’ve found that you’re not bringing in enough business income, your boundaries might be to blame. Let’s look at some of the ways that setting boundaries could bring in more money.
Boundaries are fuzzier when you’re self-employed
If you’re anything like me and you worked in a salaried job, you probably had some clear-cut boundaries around the work you did. You might have even signed a contract outlining the terms and conditions of your employment. Your employer likely spelled out the times you needed to be in the office, including overtime. And then you went home to enjoy your personal time.
But when you’re a business owner, you don’t (necessarily) set obvious boundaries in place. It’s easy to bounce from emails to laundry and shopping to webinars if you’re not clear. As the CEO of your business, however, it’s up to you to make and maintain boundaries around time, money, and your personal life.
Personally, my business vs. personal boundaries have gotten pretty fuzzy. And I’m ready to change that!
Do you charge for the time you work with people?
If you work with clients in one-on-one sessions, the time and service you give them is valuable to them. They pay your advertised rate. But are you valuing your time as much as your clients do?
Let’s say you offer 60-minute sessions at $100 a session. But you always go over by 15 minutes and still only charge $100. That means that you’re giving away $25 of your time for free. Doing that every work day of the week means you’re giving away more than an hour of time – you’re giving away $125 for free.
If you’ve found yourself in this habit, there are two things you can do:
- Stick to the time limit that the session goes for; or
- Make it clear before you start working with your clients that you will charge out for the additional time.
Recently I discovered a great Visual Timer app for my phone. The app lets me see the clock ticking, rather than just the number of minutes remaining. When I’m on a call with a client, it’s easy for me to see the amount of time remaining in our session, without having to think about numbers.
Are you giving away too much free advice?
As business owners and as people, we like to be liked. And we really want to help and support people. But it’s easy to slip into the habit of giving away free advice. This might be in person, on your Facebook page or even in Facebook groups.
There’s nothing wrong with supporting people and sharing information. But if you’re spending hours every week giving away your expertise, you’re losing time that you could be getting paid for.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to set yourself a boundary. For example, if you notice that a lot of people are asking the same questions, write a blog post about it and direct people to your website. Write up a memo with FAQs that you can send out by email every time that question comes up.
Happily give people five to ten minutes of your time. And then let folks know that “this is what I do for a living; would you like to schedule a time to meet me in my office or over Zoom?”
- Why Your Income Has Plateaued – And What You Can Do About It
- Grow your business with the right money mindset
- New to Business? Ignoring Cash Flow Can Kill Your Business
Do you have a clear contract in place?
I am not a legal professional by any means. But a contract is more than a legal document – it is a statement of your boundaries.
A well-written contract will outline exactly what you do and what services you provide. It will state your fees, your terms and conditions for payment, the expectations you have of your clients and your cancellation policy. Any time a client tries to step over a boundary, you can refer them back to this document.
My client agreements have evolved over time and the course of my business. I have learned some things the hard way. And I am still learning. We are all works in progress. If I can help you shortcut your learning curve, let me know. I’m happy to share generic versions of my client agreements.
Do you have out-of-business hours?
Technology has made it so that we can be contacted 24/7. But it’s not healthy to be available around the clock! A business owner is still a human being! And human beings need time for people, relationships, and activities outside of work.
If you find yourself working all hours of the day, or answering messages and emails late into the night and early in the morning, it’s time to revise your boundaries.
(TMI warning) In one of the Facebook groups for business owners where I hang out, someone recently asked the following “bizarre question” about boundaries:
This morning at 5:45, I’m sitting on the toilet when someone sends me a FB message, to which I don’t respond because, well, its 5:45 am and I. am. on. the. toilet. So then she FB calls me…. I don’t want to blow her off, but I also have a private life.
Firstly, according to this survey about smartphone hazards, 838 Australians drop their phones in the loo every day. I wonder what the number is worldwide?! Texting on the toilet is definitely a thing. And maybe the business owner referenced above didn’t yet know that you can turn off notifications on your phone.
But just for a moment, think about why you went into business in the first place. I bet it wasn’t so that you could work 80-hour weeks, get tracked down while you’re indisposed, and never go to a family event without answering work-related phone calls.
I turn off notifications on my phone. When I go to sleep at night, my mobile phone stays in my office. A couple of years ago I noticed that I was reaching for my phone first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed. I felt addicted to that little black box and I didn’t like what I was seeing!
Since I have a simple phone (a.k.a. Kosher phone) that can only make and receive voice calls, I have that in my bedroom. There’s no texting, emails, internet, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. If any of my family members need me in the middle of the night, they know how to find me.
How to fix your business boundaries
There are two main things to consider if you’ve noticed like me that your boundaries are missing in some areas in your business.
First, if there’s no boundary in place, you probably didn’t know you needed one when you started your business. There’s no time like the present (pun intended) – so put one in!
Write or update your contracts to reflect your new boundaries. Keep Post-It notes above your desk to remind you to stick to your time limits. Set time limits on your phone and honor them. Stick to one task at a time and stop bouncing back and forth between your business and personal lives.
How’s your self-worth?
But if you’re struggling to maintain your boundaries for some reason, let’s look into what’s going on beneath the surface. What thoughts and beliefs are causing you to ignore your own boundaries and to allow others to trample them as well?
For example, if you’re going over on your session times, it might be a sign that you don’t feel worthy of your per hour fee. Or maybe you’re afraid that if you charge out for additional time, your clients will stop working with you.
According to this article, boundaries are representative of how much or little you respect yourself. NO boundaries = little self-esteem.
Deep-seated beliefs and thoughts about your (lack of) money, income and self-worth can sabotage your business. When you take the time to get to the bottom of those beliefs and to their root cause, you can shift them. You’ll discover just how empowering it is to set strong boundaries. And you’ll gain more confidence when you honor them.
If you’re ready to set better business boundaries and grow your income, let’s chat. I’d love to see how I can support you as you build your business. Schedule a free 30-minute discovery call with me by clicking here.