Boundaries in Business

Nov 1, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

We hear a lot about boundaries in our relationships, but I think boundaries apply, and are just as important, in our business.  Setting appropriate boundaries for ourselves and effectively communicating can help you maintain your health mentally, spiritually, and physically.

How often have you had a customer wait until the last minute for something they need and then put their emergency on you?  After all, they say, they are the customer.

When you run a small business your employees see you working hard and wearing many hats.  Does that mean it is okay for them to call you  when you are off work?  Is it okay for them to miss a shift because they know you will be there and take care of things?

Is it acceptable to interrupt you if you are working with the door shut or to even interrupt you if you are meeting with someone else?

I am not advocating a right or wrong answer for any of these questions.  For each of us the answer is different.  What I am indicating is that if you do not set the boundaries that make sense for you personally and your business, it is most likely that people will not respect what may seem obvious to you.  If you don’t communicate when people can call you and what your expectations are regarding your time and personal resources then history has revealed that many small business owners become tired, stress, stretched, and finally burnt out.  This is the risk.

My advice is for you to take some time and reflect on what you may need to stay mentally, physically and spiritually healthy.  Your health will help you maintain a strong leadership stance, which is also much needed by your team.

You can start small.  It can be as simply as “Hey everyone I need to have one hour at lunch where I can recharge my batteries.   During this time I would appreciate no calls or interruptions.  This will help me to be on top of things during the rest of the work day.”  That is reasonable, fair, and sustainable.  You can eat a healthy meal and have time to read the bible or pray.  Whatever gives you peace and space to recharge your batteries.  This is just a small example.

The key though is to set the boundary and hold to it.  If you don’t stay true to the boundaries you set, then when you set new boundaries, they won’t be respected.

This is just a short shout out on the topic.  I thought about it as I was remembering how often Jesus needed to get away from the crowds and pray.  We all need to take care of ourselves and without boundaries our business life can consume us.  Everything in moderation right?

Have you felt a need to set some boundaries in your business life?  Have you started?  Can you share some successes?

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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