Greater Than Business Podcast – Episode 006
This is episode six of the greater than business podcast. And today we are going to be talking about boundaries in your business. So if you've listened to the last episode, you will recall that I hit rock bottom in my online business because I failed to set up boundaries. I started saying yes all the time and lost track of exactly why I started my business in the first place. So today I want to teach you how to get beyond that and set yourself up to achieve something greater and not to end up at rock bottom like I did. So firstly, I want to basically remind you of why you started your business. So sit down in a quiet room after you're done listening to this and really truly dig deep on why you started the business. Is it financial reasons? Is it the ability to stay at home?
Is it so that you could control your life? Do you want to be able to travel the world? Do you want to have that freedom of shutting down your business four weeks at a time, months at a time? Or is it any there? There really is various reasons on why you started your business. But the second part that I want you to think about is how are your boundaries structured around that? Why? So for me, my why to starting a business was to be able to stay home with my children, but they're in school. So my biggest thing is so that I could stay at home with my children, be able to attend school events, be able to have them home with me if they're sick, and the ability for me to be able to work anywhere. The downfall for me was that I lost sight of why I started my business.
I did it so that I could be there for my children. But the problem was was that once my children got home from school, I was still working. What I forgot was to set an on time and an off time for my business. So like any other business, you have structured work hours. Yes, there's over time, yes, there's deadlines and other things where you may be required to bring your work home. But if you think about any typical nine to five, you go into the office at nine o'clock, you work all day, you stop at lunch, you have your lunch break, you work the afternoon, you stop at five, you come home, you barely think about work from five o'clock onwards until probably bedtime when you start trying to plan for the next day. So the problem with running your own business expecially from home is you don't have the ability to shut it off.
So what I found works really well for me is I set up a dedicated workspace in my house. I have an office and if you check out our Instagram account @flowautomation, you will be able to see exactly where I work and where I'm recording this episode from right now. When we built our house, we structured it so that I would have that retreat space where I could go and I could work. And then at the end of the day, when I decide my work day is over, I shut my computer, I shut my office door and I go upstairs. My house is a split level almost. So although my office is in the basement, I do have a very large window and it doesn't feel like a basement, so I'm not like shoved in the dungeon or anything like that. But, I know some people can that can really hinder their creativity to be shoved in a basement.
But for me it works out. So I just wanted to kind of preface that a little bit. But for me that has been one of the biggest things that has allowed me to continue moving forward in my business after the rock bottom moment. After realizing that I needed to restructure everything that I had moving in my business and for me having that dedicated space and that dedicated time has been beneficial. Now, don't get me wrong, there are days where I bring my computer upstairs after hours. There are days where some things will trickle over into the time when my children are home. But that used to be the norm and now it's infrequent. So it's good. I'm taking steps in the right direction with each day. So just being conscious of what you are allowing to creep into your family time or your after hours time, as long as it doesn't become an everyday thing, it's okay.
And at the end of it, I'm sure you probably spent some time by yourself in the middle of the day when you technically should have been working, which then pushed it to beyond your working hours. So the thing with boundaries is it's good to sometimes be flexible, but yet you can be flexible every single day because that is what leads you to burn out. That is what leads you to your rock bottom moment. And I don't want you guys to get there. That is not the intention of starting your own business. You're trying to do it for yourself and you are going to have to work hard. Don't get me wrong, they're starting a business. Maintaining a business and scaling a business is hard, hard work. You don't have someone to just tell you what to do. You have to figure it out on your own. And the key is that you build it on your own terms.
In a couple episodes, I'm going to be talking about defining success on your own terms and what that means and what that looks like. So keep an eye out for that episode because it is definitely going to be something that you want to listen to. But for now I want to stick with boundaries. So I've already gone over my number one tip for boundaries and creating boundaries in your business and that is set aside a dedicated workspace. Tip number two would be set aside dedicated work hours. So the same as you would do if you were working in a nine to five work between these hours and set it up as not a structured system but an ideal system. So if you only want to work from, for myself it's 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM and basically those are kind of my structured work hours. Should something pop up in the middle of the day and I have a dentist appointment, then I go to the dentist.
If I need to make up those hours a little bit later in the week and do a Thursday night or I'm working till about six, then I can decide to do that. Or I just push things to the next week or I make sure that I have them finish before I have to go to the dentist. It's all planning, but the main thing that I try to keep in place is my structured work hours. So it's fairly easy for me because my kids leave early in the morning and then I have a couple hours to myself before the nine o'clock start of my day happens. And then I will work pretty much straight through until three o'clock. I do have kind of a lunch break, but usually I'm just eating at my desk while I'm still working. Thankfully my husband brings me lunch, so he works in town and he'll usually stop and grab it and bring it home for me.
But other than that, I'm pretty much working for the majority of the day. And then at three o'clock I, my kids come home and I shut my computer and I go upstairs as I said before. So it really helps to have structured hours on top of having that dedicated workspace. And the biggest tip that I can give you if you're working in the service industry is that you relay these hours to your clients and let them know that you are unreachable after 3:00 PM or 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM or whatever it is. But let them know that your phone turns off, your computer is closed. They cannot reach you unless it is a super emergency and then give them an alternative way to contact you. But do not allow them to dictate what an emergency is. That is a big, big thing. Lots of times when something little goes wrong in a business, the business owners will think that it is an emergency because it's their baby.
Everything is an emergency. When something goes even the tiniest little bit wrong and there are some things that are going to happen after hours that you can't fix and you can't control. So things like that, you're going to have to wait until the next day and you have to relay that in your, basically in your agreement to work with your clients, you have to make sure that they know that you will deem what is an emergency, what is something that you can handle after hours. And if you want to instill a fee on top of that, by all means do it. It's your business. If you are being called back to your office after a night in a nine to five, you get paid over time. It's not something that is included in your salary. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. And that is not something where you need to go above and beyond without compensation.
So you need to make sure that you structure your time and value yourself in a way that comes off crystal clear to your clients. If you're working in a service based industry. Now, if you're working online and you sell courses or other things like that, you also will have dedicated hours for your customers to be able to contact you. And you have to set clear expectations for them as well. So if someone emails you and it's after hours, let them know that you've received their email, you can send them a canned response that automatically will come back to them and let them know that you've received their email. It's, it is however, after hours, because you only check emails between 10 and four and then you basically let them know that you will get back to them within 48 hours and just kind of leave it at that.
Or you can say 24 hours. You can basically say whatever you want and make sure to include business hours. That is key because there's some times over the weekend, I'm sure you don't want to be working on the weekend and if someone emails you late on a Friday night and you say that you'll get back to them 24 hours, they're going to be sitting there waiting for you all day Saturday to get back to them. And if you don't, then they're going to wait til for Sunday and then Sunday is going to come and go and they're still not going to hear from you. And then on Monday, obviously you're going to have a whole weekend's worth of emails to get through. So you might not be able to get back to them right away on Monday. And they're going to be sitting there thinking like it's been 72 hours.
Where are you? So you need to make sure that you specify business hours. Now that doesn't mean 24 business hours. It basically just means like business days essentially. So you're not going to think that if you say 24 business hours that that means three days because your business only operates a certain amount of hours per day. Most people understand what that means, but you have to set those realistic expectations for communication with your clients and your customers. And then the other thing is too, with the boundaries, you need to also establish those boundaries with your team as well. So I know some bigger businesses that have multiple team members answering customer service emails and doing all of those things. Or if you run a service based industry and you have a team, you need to make sure that your boundaries trickled down to your team as well.
So one thing I've found that's really good for this is hiring people in your team across different time zones so that you could have someone handling your early morning emails and if you're based on the east coast in the United States, then you could hire someone in the UK that could wake up at their normal business time. They could work their normal hours and they could answer all of your customer service emails that have came in before you even get to your desk. And then everything can be sorted out by the time you sit down at your desk to start tackling the day. And then you could hire another VA that works on the west coast and right there you then have an extra three to four hours after you shut down and you go offline for someone to handle those incoming questions on a quicker basis. So there's various ways that you can achieve this, but you need to make sure that your clients and your customers are being communicated to very, very thoroughly on what your boundaries are.
So you can say that you will get back to them, it will happen, but it will only happen between the hours of blank and blank. And then the other kind of sub tip that I would put into this as well is if you do have someone that's on the west coast that would be answering emails beyond the time that you were available. If you lived on the east coast, then you need to specify that those people can return the emails immediately. They are urgent and if they're not urgent, set a time or a schedule a reply to go out so they can schedule it and set it all up. But delay the send of that email til the next day during business hours because then what that does is it, it doesn't give the impression that even though you say your business hours are from 10 to five and you keep answering emails at 8:00 PM, then people are going to start thinking, well I can email her at any time and then they start to take advantage of the fact that your VA on the west coast went above and beyond one day.
So you need to let them know that this is kind of a onetime only situation where I'm answering you after hours. I'm here to help so I'm obviously going to help you, but make sure to, to let them know very clearly that you are going above and beyond. Don't word it that way, but let them know that this is being handled outside of business hours and if there should be another issue moving forward, the business hours are between 10 and five and Yada, Yada, Yada. Or you set your hours so that you encompass the fact that you do have that person that is working after hours for you. So that would be more of a, a bigger issue when you do have a bigger company in a team. And if you're already in that place then fantastic. But make sure that you are communicating those hours very, very clearly and getting those boundaries in place right from the start.
So the next tip that I want to talk about with the boundaries, we've already gone over a couple, but I want to make sure that you get everything in writing for your boundaries. So I did mention this briefly earlier, but you have to have an employment contract of some sort in place with your team members as well as your clients or your customers. So customers, not so much. Customers are people that are buying things from you on a one off basis or members in a membership site, things like that. So they don't necessarily need full out contracts, but they do need to agree to terms and conditions. And there is where you would put your boundaries and you would also obviously relay that to them in emails and stuff like that where you can say like, yes, this email inbox is monitored but we only monitor it between blank and blank and we will get back to you within blank amount of time.
But for clients, if you are a service based entrepreneur and you've started a business where you're servicing other people's businesses, then they have their own boundaries set up with their clients and you need to make sure that it's a right fit for your business in the way that you want to opera. Sometimes in the service industry, I find that people will just say yes to anybody in order to get a client and that is the biggest mistake that you can make in your business because if you're saying yes to someone that's working on the west coast of the United States and you are in the UK, there is a massive time delay there. So they're going to assume that you're going to want to or that you can work late into your evening, whereas you might not be able to do that because you have kids, you have a family, you have a husband, you have a wife, you have, you want to go out every night and do fun things like you.
You can set your boundaries up so that you can live the life that you want around your business. But if you don't get your clients on board with that, then you're lost and you're gonna end up at that resentment, rock bottom, that horrible place where you don't want to be. And honestly, when it comes to setting boundaries in your business, it's all on you. If you have a client that's abusing the boundaries, then you have an establish them correctly. If you have a client that's pushing you to work every single night beyond your availability, that is on you. Because at some point you gave that client the permission to expect more from you. And that is not necessarily a, it sounds like something that you'd want to do where you'd want your client to expect more out of you, but that is in your work ethic, your skills, all of that other stuff that shouldn't be in your boundaries, so you need to make sure that you have a contract in place that states exactly when you're available, what the expectations are during your availability, the work that you can get done during your availability and what to do if there is an emergency outside of your availability.
But let them know that you will determine if it is an emergency or not. Obviously don't leave them hanging. If they email you and say, oh my gosh, something just broke, I needed to go fix it. You can look at it and go, okay, that's a five minute fix. I'll do it now, but you need to tell them this is a onetime thing. This isn't necessarily an emergency, but I get it that it is something big that has happened. That's a quick fix. So I'll do it this time, but next time it might not be considered an emergency because if you're gone out somewhere and you don't have your computer, it's not necessarily considered an emergency and there's only so much you can do. If you're running an online business and you're trying to have a life and you don't have your computer, sometimes things just have to wait.
You are not saving lives in any way, shape or form, unless of course you have an online business that provides some sort of like life savings something or other. But that is not what we're talking about here. I'm talking about normal day to day online businesses, service based course-based like whatever business you're running, nothing that can happen in that business is detrimental to the life of something. Like it's just, it's not possible. So take a deep breath, let them know very calmly, very professionally that they've overstepped their boundaries, that it will be dealt with in the morning. What? There's nothing you can do right now, but it will get looked after. Reassure them that it's fine. Always respond if they do text you or email you beyond hours and it is something that they feel is an emergency, just shoot them a quick email back and say, hey, just got this wanting to let you know that I received x, Y, Z and I want you to know that I'm going to handle it as soon as I wake up tomorrow or as soon as I'm back at my desk or however else you want to word it.
And then just basically let them, and then if it is a big, huge emergency, then obviously let them know that you're taking care of it right now. But be transparent and say it is after hours. I don't have my computer. Unfortunately this wasn't a foreseen thing that could have happened and there's not much I can do until I'm back at my desk and I will handle it as soon as I can. And that's pretty much all you need to do. Like you can't be expected to be around your computer at all times. That's just not realistic. Just because you've set up a business where you can take your business with you wherever you go, it doesn't mean you need to and that is one of the biggest things that I want you to take away from this episode today is that you set up your business with a purpose, with a why behind it.
You set boundaries in place, so don't allow other people or yourself to abuse those boundaries, stick with it, stick to it, structure your life around these boundaries and feel free to leave your computer at home on the weekends. That is like the biggest thing that I hope you can achieve is leaving your computer just because you can take it. Just because you can work from anywhere doesn't mean that you should have allowed that expectation to happen. That is one of the biggest mistakes that I made right when I started my business is I was running service based infusion accounts and if you've ever used infusion soft, you will know the campaign builder back then could not be used on a mobile device. So that meant I couldn't use it on an iPad. I couldn't use it on my mobile phone. If I wanted to access the campaign builder, which is where the majority of everything happens inside Infusionsoft, you have to have your computer and if I wanted to go anywhere, I had to bring my computer and I thought that in order for me to land clients, I had to let them know that don't worry.
No matter where I go, I bring my computer. So like all hours of the day if you need to get me, I have my computer on me and that was the worst thing that I possibly could have done because then every weekend it was like if there was a deadline and something was due on a Monday, I would get it sent to me at the 11th hour on Sunday night to send it out for Monday. Whereas if I had been really strict with my boundaries, I would have got it on Friday before I said I was going to shut down my computer for the weekend. And at that point you need to, if you're working as I was in a service based business, you need to put that expectation and that burden back onto the business owner. If they don't have things to you before your hard stop boundary time ends, then that's not on you.
That's on them. So if it goes out late because you didn't get it on time, you're going to feel bad because you're a human and you don't like disappointing people, but at the same time, if they sent it to you late, they cannot then blame you for it going out late because you have structured your boundaries, you have a contract in place, you are clear in your communication with your boundaries and they produced whatever it was, whatever deliverable it was, they gave it to you late. Therefore, it's not your fault and it's not your problem. Well, it is. It's not your problem. That's not the right way to say it, but the mistake or the lack of planning is not on your plate at this point. It is from the business owner downwards. They're the ones that were late and they need to know that they need to own up to that and because they didn't send it to you on Friday and it had to go out first thing Monday and if you get it Sunday night, do not work on Sunday night to get that email out.
You can get it out first thing Monday morning when you're at your desk and if it's something that requires way bigger setup than just a simple like push a button to send something or whatever it else you may do for businesses. If it's not a simple thing and it does take hours, you need to keep clearly communicate that with your clients and let them know that this is a four hour process and you gave it to me after hours. So although it's supposed to go out on Monday morning at 9:00 AM, it's now going to be delayed by four hours because I'm going to start the project on Monday morning at 9:00 AM so I just want to take a moment and run back over everything that we just talked about just so that you get it all in one spot. Now if you're interested and you want to get a handout, basically walking you step by step through how to set up your boundaries, decide what your boundaries are, communicate your boundaries to people.
Then I will have a pdf that you can download and you can find that on the show notes page, which is GreaterThanBusiness.com/006 all numerical. So what is going to be in that pdf is basically these five steps to setting boundaries in your business. So step number one is your why for creating your business and how you need to align your boundaries with that. Step two is setting up a dedicated workspace. Even if it's just a corner in your living room. Just some spot that you know that the moment you sit there, that is where you work, this is when you're working and as soon as you are not working anymore, then don't sit there, sit somewhere else. The third thing is dedicated hours and the dedicated hours need to be set by you. So you have your own dedicated working hours.
And then on top of that, your business has dedicated working hours and your team members will have their own dedicated working hours. You need to make sure that you're hiring to cover whatever your business dedicated hours are. And then you also need to make sure that your team members are working within their own dedicated hours. So as I mentioned in examples before, if you have somebody that works over in the UK, then obviously they're different. Their hours are going to be different than someone that works on the west coast of the United States. So you just need to make sure that you have as a business dedicated hours and that you need to let those in your clients or your customers or whoever they need to know those dedicated hours. And then you also need to make sure that as a business you have all of those hours covered for whatever may come up.
So if you do have a business where you're working from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM eastern time, then you need to communicate that with people, that those are your working hours. And then you need to have someone that starts at nine and someone that ends at nine and that person doesn't necessarily have to be on the east coast working till 9:00 PM unless that's their preference. But you need to make sure you're hiring people within those areas. So the other step number four is setting expectations, which is something that you clearly need to do. You need to set expectations with your clients, with your customers and with your team. So your team knows what the expectations are for their boundaries as well as what the expectations are for your boundaries. And you need to let them know specifically when they can reach you, how they can reach you, and when is the point where they need to reach you as well.
So you need to let them know that this is considered an emergency. Contact me right away. This is not considered an emergency. This can wait til tomorrow morning or the next working business day. The last thing, step number five, is that you need to have contracts and terms in place so that you can never overstate your boundaries, but you can definitely understate them. So you need to keep in constant communication, your hours, your working hours, your business hours, whatever it is. You need to make sure that you have those boundaries in place. So if you follow those five steps, download the worksheet and it will basically walk you through exactly how you can do it. And I'll provide a couple examples as well for making sure that you're communicating your boundaries correctly to both clients and customers and your own team. But if you download that pdf, you're going to get to basically walk through those five steps and it will cover everything that you need to know to set up working boundaries in your business.
So there's going to be episodes further on where I'm going to talk about boundaries as far as how you run your business, what tasks are things that you need to do, and then which ones are basically beyond your boundaries so that you stop saying yes to everything. But that's another episode. This one here, we just are kind of focusing on setting up your business structure as far as hours workspace and basically get getting a clear message out there to anyone involved in your business that this is what's acceptable and this is what's not. So I hope that you have enjoyed this episode. As I said before, you can find the show notes greaterthanbusiness.com/006 and I can't wait to talk to you next week.
Greater Than Business Podcast – Episode 006
For the full podcast and show notes, please go to www.GreaterThanBuisness.com/006
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