5 ways to set boundaries as an entrepreneur
Think of setting boundaries like stepping into an invisible bubble. Nothing can enter your bubble unless you say so. By protecting your bubble, you’re protecting your energy.
As an entrepreneur, working 24/7 tends to be the norm. You love building your business, and there’s always more to do, right? But poor boundaries can lead to increased stress, lower motivation, and burnout.
Establishing boundaries will provide a healthy work-life balance, help you set clear priorities and allow you to stay motivated to achieve your goals.
Here are 5 things you can do to create healthy boundaries as an entrepreneur.
1. Set your priorities
As an entrepreneur, you have the power to prioritise what matters the most to you. This could be family time, financial security, giving back to your community, or a combination of all three. Once you figure out what you’d like to prioritise, it becomes the backbone of how you run your business and spend your time.
Tip: Spend some time thinking about what’s important to you. What motivates you? How can you set boundaries in order to live your life aligned to your priorities?
2. Take control of your calendar
I’m sure you’re familiar with the term ‘time is money’. It’s a phrase most people associate with working harder and for longer hours. For some, this might be true — if you work longer hours, you might get paid overtime, but this isn’t always the case.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to use your time wisely. If your time equals money, then to achieve success and live in alignment with your priorities, it’s important to plan your calendar around both your personal and business needs.
This includes scheduling ‘rest time’ to recharge, which although might not always feel like it, can help improve productivity. ‘Rest time’ means completely switching off from work and making time for something you enjoy. It could be anything from reading a good book, having a bath, or even something more active like going for a walk.
Tip: If one of your priorities is family, and you’d like a family day every Saturday, then this needs to go into your calendar first. Everything else can be worked around it.
3. Focus on one task at a time
Work smarter not harder. Set boundaries around how much time you’d like to spend on each task.
If you’re a solopreneur, you’re probably wearing all the hats. You’re working on everything from marketing and sales, to finance and admin. Multitasking seems like a great way to get work done quickly, but it can lead to increased stress and hinder creativity by not giving your tasks the time and focus they need.
Tip: Try focusing on one task at a time. Avoid distractions by putting your phone in another room so you’re not tempted to scroll!
4. Learn to say no
Do you often say yes to a dinner party, then stay up till 3am finishing your work? Do you say yes to taking on additional client work but then feel completely stressed and anxious you won’t meet their deadline?
When you say yes to people but you really want to say no, you’re not being true to yourself. You’re letting yourself down.
Start making decisions based on how you want to spend your time, without being influenced by the fear of being rejected or disliked. Get comfy with the idea that you might disappoint other people. Saying no, doesn’t make you a bad person. It means you have your priorities in order.
Tip: If giving a firm no feels uncomfortable, consider a compromise. Can you move the dinner to the following week when you have more time? Is there flex on the deadline for the additional client work?
5. Manage expectations
Work out what your ideal working day or week looks like, find what feels comfortable with your offering and start as you mean to go on.
If you offer a specific service, establish what your client should and shouldn’t expect. If you’re halfway through a project and the client asks for additional work that isn’t within your remit, you can revisit your initial conversation without it being awkward.
If you set your working hours between 10–5 pm, make this clear to your clients. Only communicate with them during this time, as soon as you answer a call after 5 pm, you’ve set the precedent for it happening again.
Tip: Once you’ve established your boundaries around what a client can expect from you, put it in writing. Write it on your website, in an email, and/or in your contract.
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