Setting Boundaries As A New Entrepreneur
Transitioning from the corporate world to an entrepreneurial role is not an easy task. There is no rule book or guide. You’re pretty much winging it. It’s thrilling, scary, and overwhelming all at once. But, it’s extremely rewarding – once you get into your own groove.
No one tells you the importance of setting boundaries until your knee-deep in work and on the brink of burn out. You know how they say, when you work for yourself you need to work ten times harder? It’s true, but there also needs to be a balance.
You don’t want to lose your sanity, nor have shit hit the fan early on.
I’m going to break down 5 ways to set boundaries as a new entrepreneur so you can cut through the trial-and-error period and skip right to the good stuff.
(I went through it all, so you don’t have to).
#1 – Office Hours
In the corporate world, we’re used to the standard 9-5. While we don’t necessarily have to adopt the same time frame, it’s important to set some type of availability for when you plan to work and when you don’t.
That way, you develop an internal and external schedule to keep a good work/life balance. Set the pace for when you’re available to speak with clients or work on deliverables and when you’re offline so you can deload and have needed “me time”.
Remember, you are the master of your own schedule. If you want to work 3 days a week, go for it. Want to work 5 but only 4 hours a day? You got it!
And don’t feel that you have to stick to the same hours of operation. Test and try out what works best for you! Everyone is different.
#2 – Themed Days
This is more of an internal boundary to keep you on track and organized. Since you’re working on client projects and you’re essentially the maker of your workload, it’s very easy to get sidetracked and pulled in multiple directions.
In order to keep yourself organized, try to batch your days into themes to get through work more efficiently. This way, you have a general idea of what you need to work on and when.
I personally designate different types of work for specific days. For example, I like to leave Mondays to set myself up for the week, prep for client work, and work on my own business content. Tuesdays through Thursdays are for client deliverables and meetings. They’re also for any catch up chats with fellow entrepreneurs, friends, and new connections. Fridays are my admin days where I tie up loose ends, update project statuses, and check in on outstanding invoices.
By setting up themed days, you stay organized and can plan for specific tasks on the days that you feel most comfortable taking them. It also helps clients get a good understanding of timeline expectations when they know that you have specific days that you take calls or work on their deliverables.
#3 – Services + Process
You are the Michelin Star Chef of your business, so you get to decide what you serve (offerings) and how you serve it (process). Don’t let someone try to order off the menu or tell you how to execute things.
When just starting out, it’s very common to not know what your sweet spot is. Test drive things and see what feels good for you! You’ll never truly know if you enjoy a specific thing until you try it. Same thing goes for industries, types of clients, and so on.
It’s important to niche down at some point so you have a clear target audience. Know that you can always change directions if you end up selecting a niche that turns out to not be your cup of tea.
Remember to stick to your guns for your service offerings and your process.
If you’re a wedding photographer and someone approaches you for product photography, it’s okay to say no. Don’t feel that you have to stretch yourself thin to do all the things. Focus on offerings you love and are really good at.
Likewise, if you are a web designer and you only offer 2 logo variations in your package, don’t let a client tell you that you have to provide 4.
#4 – Communication
How do you want your clients to communicate with you? Aside from setting specific office hours of availability, you should always designate the type of communication methods you’re comfortable with to set expectations.
Maybe your preference is primarily email communication, with an option to set up a call by appointment. Or perhaps you prefer to have all communication done through a program like Slack, ClickUp, or Asana. Maybe you’re more lenient and want to give clients the option to text you personally.
Whatever your preference is, you set the rules. Clearly communicate the method(s) you land on to your clients in advance so they’re well informed.
#5 – Stand Up For Yourself + Your Beliefs
There may be occasions when you get clients that are not a fit, don’t align with your values, or are disrespectful. It’s important to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
This is your business and you should never let someone take advantage of you. Learn when to say no, especially when certain requests fall outside of your service offerings, processes, office hours, and so forth.
Again, you are not for everyone and that’s perfectly fine. Protect your energy and yourself.
If you feel that there are red flags or that something isn’t working, walk away. There will always be opportunities that align better, so don’t ever settle for ones that are unpleasant. You deserve respect as a business owner. Know when to draw the line if a client is not respecting your boundaries.
Setting Boundaries Is Crucial To Being More Successful As A New Entrepreneur
As a new entrepreneur, trying to figure out how to run your business is confusing, complicated, and a ton of work. By implementing these 5 elements, you are setting yourself up for success. Setting boundaries is crucial because it lays the foundation for how your business operates, provides clear direction for clients, and keeps you sane.
If you’re struggling with putting this to action and need a sounding board, I’d love to work this out with you and come up with a strategy we can implement that feels good to you! You + me for a complete hour to focus on ALL things you and your biz. Let’s strategize, baby!