Setting boundaries for entrepreneurs who are just starting out can be a daunting task. This is because as an entrepreneur, you want to make your customers feel happy and satisfied to ensure that they pay you and hopefully become repeat customers. You do all these things because as an entrepreneur you are fully dedicated to our businesses and treat them almost like your baby; you always want the best for the business.

Sadly, most of the time you forget to take care of your personal needs. You are usually so overwhelmed with your business that you do not know when to take a break. Having poor or no boundaries also makes you feel irritable, anxious, and guilty and makes you have a hard time making decisions. This can result in unmanageable work environments and chaotic teams. You are also likely to grapple with stress, reduced profitability, opportunity costs, and heartaches.

Since no one wants to become a pushover and a failure, it is important that you learn how to protect your sanity as an entrepreneur by setting clear boundaries with your clients. Before you set the boundaries, the first thing that you need to do is change your mentality. Work on your beliefs first before you begin changing the things around you that are negatively affecting your peace of mind and denying you time with friends and family.

You love your business but you need to remember that if you work too hard, your productivity will reduce which will affect your business negatively and you do not want that to happen. You cannot give what you do not have- you can’t pour from an empty cup as they say. If you are tired and overwhelmed all the time, it will be difficult for you to serve your customers or work optimally. Therefore, boundaries are not just meant to uphold your sanity; rather, they also ensure that you are always in tip-top shape to offer the best services to your customers. Setting clear boundaries will assist you to give your business your best.

These are the boundaries that you need to set;

Client Feedback

If your business offers a service such as designing clothes or websites, you can receive feedback through a call but ensure that you request the client to provide the feedback in writing even if it is through an email. If they begin to provide feedback in a way that you do not like, redirect them and offer them an explanation of why you prefer them to use your method and be as professional as possible.

Project scope

You may have stipulated the scope of your services in a contract but this will not mean that some clients will not ask you to do tasks that are beyond your scope. Do not feel like you have an obligation to say yes whenever a client asks you to do something. Be firm but be professional as well. You have control over your time and you can say no when you are unable to do extra work or if you simply do not want to do it.

Communication

Decide how you would like your relationship to be structured and then go ahead and write an agreement that states clearly the expectations of both you and the client. Clarify to your clients when you are available to take calls, respond to texts and reply to emails which are informally known as “office hours”.  Ensure that you inform them about your office hours as well as other time policies. For example, when you are going on vacation you should give them a notice. Also, be clear about your terms of payment, and where, when, and how disputes will be dealt with.

Put your phone away

Our phones have become a big distraction in our lives nowadays. With just a tap on your screen, you can access the entire world. This can hinder you from achieving your goals as an entrepreneur. The best thing to do to circumvent this issue is to put the phone away and if possible, leave it in a different room.

 Have a routine

Following a strict routine is one of the best ways of setting boundaries as an entrepreneur. It enables you to do many tasks effortlessly. A routine is a nice way to have some defined personal rules about what takes place at a certain time of the day. Begin with morning and end-of-day routine. Your morning routine should consist of activities that inspire and energize you such as running, exercising, listening to a podcast, showering, meditating, and eating breakfast. Your evening routine should be made up of actions that relax you and distract you from your daily struggles such as spending time with family or watching comedy.

Get enough sleep

Sleeping less than you are used you often times leaves you feeling irritable which will not be helpful as an entrepreneur. Ensure that you get ample time to sleep.

Group similar tasks together

Perform one type of task every day. For example, Mondays can be for meetings, Tuesdays can be for marketing, Wednesdays can be for accounting and Thursdays can be for networking, etc.

Be careful about emails

Emails can consume a lot of your time as an entrepreneur. It would be better for you if you check them at specific times such as 2 or 3 times every day. Another important thing to do is to take advantage of an email management system. Set filters and folders to manage your email effectively. Also, set aside time when you will deal with emails that require longer responses.

Setting healthy client and work boundaries is essential if you really want your business to thrive as an entrepreneur. Self-care, proper communication, and learning to say no are some of the things you need to get used to doing to succeed.

This article was originally published in GREY Journal.