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The 5 Types of Boundaries You Need in Business
Episode 1318th November 2022 • The Driven Woman Entrepreneur • Diann Wingert
00:00:00 00:52:33

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Summary 

The topic of boundaries has never been more important than it is now because entrepreneurs are burning out, and far too businesses aren't profitable. This straight-shooting solo episode will walk you through each of the five areas where you probably need to beef up your boundaries, how to know if you should, and the first step to take to find out. If you're thinking this is one more time-wasting task on your neverending To-Do list, think twice. These strategies are guaranteed to burnout-proof your business while boosting your bottom line. 

Host Notes

One of the areas of business strategy I find most of my clients need help with is business boundaries, and often times they don't even realize it. Boundary problems may be the root cause when you find yourself working too much, making too little, and dealing with needy, demanding, or never-satisfied clients. Boundary problems are often to blame for working really hard but not moving forward, investing a ton in learning for your business but never having enough time to implement what you have learned. If any of this sounds familiar, this episode is for you. 

When we struggle with boundaries, we tend to feel resentful, frustrated and overwhelmed. We may think it's a time management issue or that we simply have too much to do and not enough support from others. The tendency to blame, whether ourselves or others is very tempting (I do it too, from time to time...) but nothing moves the needle like self-awareness and personal responsibility. This is truly empowering because when we recognize that we are part of the problem, we can then get busy creating a solution. And, in this episode, I am going to show you exactly how to get started. 

The 5 types of boundaries you need in your business are time, energy, money, people & effort. The place to start with each of them is to uncover where you are investing, spending, and wasting each of these resources. Behavior change is hard, and this episode is a big-picture overview. Pick one area and take the first step. Once you've made some progress, take another step or take the first step in another category. 

Every action we take that reduces our risk of burnout and increases our profit ratio improves the sustainability of our business and gives us more confidence in our entrepreneurial journey. Rather than buying yet another course or enrolling in yet another quick-fix program, take a look at where you can bolster your boundaries for free with these simple steps.  Listening to this episode will give you the big-picture perspective on why you need better business boundaries, but to move the needle, you need to take action and for that, you need a roadmap.   

Click this link to get my PDF checklist “5 Types of Boundaries You Need in Your Business” with action steps for each area and links to free resources that will help you get started:  https://bit.ly/5typeschecklist

I am working on an audio course on the topic of boundaries for female solopreneurs, so stay tuned to be one of the first to hear about it when it’s released.  

So, that’s all for now, Driven Woman! Please join us next week for another amazing guest interview with Tara Newman, who is going to straighten out our money madness and steer us toward greater profit potential in our business.

Transcripts

Well, hey, driven woman entrepreneur, I know you're used to the show opening with my cool little theme music and that wonderful voice actor intro, but I've decided after more than two years of producing this podcast faithfully, every week, it's time to shake some things up. So I'm just gonna jump right in to telling you what this episode is all about and then hit the good stuff. One of the things that I talk about with my coaching clients more than anything else is the subject of boundaries. You could say I'm kind of obsessed with boundaries because there any area of your business where better boundaries don't pay off. So today's episode, I want to go over my framework for the five types of boundaries you absolutely must have in your business if you want to avoid burnout, you want to have a business that's sustainable and you want to have profit, shall we do this? Okay, so I'm just gonna give you the overview from the top.

The five types of boundaries you simply must have are boundaries with time, energy, money, people, and effort. Now I'm gonna break those down individually and I'm gonna give you something that you can request a little bit later on in the show notes with a link so that you can have a PDF of because there are some actionable items that I'm going to suggest you do. And the reason why is that most of us avoid doing the kind of things that I'm going to suggest for follow up because we know on some level that we need to improve our business boundaries. But behavior change is hard, it is simply hard for all of us and oftentimes things that are hard tend to be the very same things that we procrastinate on, we resist doing, and we flat out void. But I hope to convince you by the end of this short, hard hitting solo episode that it will be worth it for you to do at least one of them. Remember, there are five different types of boundaries you need in business. And improvement in one of them will have an effect on the others so start where you have the least amount of resistance and then keep going at the pace that you can stick with okay.

So let's start with time. What I'm referring to when I say we need to boundaries around our time are, well, let's just start with this, is your business a side hustle or is it your full time gig? This is really crucial because so many of us start our first business or even our fourth business on the side. You know, it can be, well, you'd have to be in a pretty privileged position to give up a full-time job with benefits, burn the boats, and start a business from scratch. It can easily take up to three years before you are profitable and who can go without a paycheck for three years, probably somebody who has a rich husband, but I digress. So is your business a side hustle or is it a full-time gig? If it is a side hustle, I don't have to tell you how important it is to have boundaries around time. Your side hustle business is going to be created on evenings, weekends, holidays, when the kiddos have taken a nap while you're driving cross country to visit the FAM for the holidays, and you're working madly away on your tablet while your partner's driving. People who start businesses as a side hustle often become very, very masterful when it comes to creating business basics with very little time.

As a matter of fact, something I've noticed with my coaching clients is the more time they have, the more time they need and here's what I mean by that. If you had to take a test, many of us have taken exams, professional exams, academic exams, and they're usually timed, right. You don't usually get as long as you need so we have all learned the skill of getting something hard done within a specific timeframe, and I find that if we assign a specific timeframe to something, we will not only get it done faster. We will probably get it done with more enthusiasm and less effort. There's something about a deadline that is simply magic for most of us, and because many of my clients and myself have ADHD, we especially need deadlines to focus, sustain our effort and really honestly, do our best work in a minimum amount of time. So if your business is a side hustle, you're gonna have to do more with less and I applaud you for that, but don't think that if you had more time, you would get more done. What I've seen again and again and again with the many coaching clients I've worked with over the years is oftentimes, the more time we have, the more time we waste.

Now, clearly this is not true for everybody, but there's the fucking around time that we all do. You know, there's the time that we're getting ready to get ready, and there's all the time that we spend gathering things together to sit down and focus. It is astonishing how creative human beings can become when we have plenty of time at our disposal. So something I've learned is that if you are paying attention to your cycles, your rhythms, your, I like to call them modes. I have noticed that there are certain times of the day, certain times of the week, certain times of the year that I can simply get more done, and there are other times it's like pulling teeth. I really do my best to take advantage of those times by setting strict boundaries. For example, I know when my creative time is because I maintain a pretty consistent schedule for waking and sleeping. I'm actually, I've become a creature of habit. I used to resist that hardcore. I used to think I'm a free spirit, I'm a creative person, I can't knuckle down to a routine. Yes, you can and actually it has helped me in countless ways. So I have a pretty consistent bedtime, a pretty consistent wake up and I do batch and time block the different types of work that I do because even though I resisted it for a really long time, that's one type of boundary that has really helped me so much, and so I offer that to my clients who are willing to give it a shot.

If you notice that there are certain times that you're simply able to get more done in less time, then by all if you possibly can structure your work days to take advantage of those times. Now, whether you have ADHD or not, a lot of us tend to engage in the behaviors I call the unholy trinity. I am referring to procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing. Now these ladies are supreme at wasting time. They all seem very necessary but they actually are eating away at your productivity. So something that I've learned is that I will put something off as long as I possibly can, even something I know how to do and may enjoy simply because my brain has somehow designated it as boring or because I've latched onto something else that I'm enjoying more and I just don't wanna give that up in favor of the so-called boring thing. So what I've learned is that I have to get some accountability around those things. This is a time boundary. If you know that you are going to waste time, and I'm talking about wasting time in the form of procrastination, it's not a victimless crime, right? Procrastination tends to eat away not only at your productivity, but at your self-esteem. Nobody ever feels great about procrastination. So I know the types of things that I put off as long as I possibly can, and sometimes even long enough that there's a negative consequence, not proud of it, but I admit this is part of my makeup and it's part of the makeup of a lot of people I know.

So I specifically use the tool Focus Mate. I do not overuse this tool. It's a wonderful thing. I'll make sure I link to it in the show notes. If you haven't ever scheduled a Focus Mate session, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a free account and do it. Most people really don't need more than a free account and here's another example of how you use your boundary with time. You could sign up for a paid account and have unlimited Focus Mate sessions, but I don't recommend it. First of all, because things we have an unlimited amount of, we tend to take for granted and not really utilize them properly. And when you have a limited number of them as on the free account, you tend to be more discerning, more discriminating and more intentional about the way you use them. So my hacks for this short episode, if you are a procrastinator, if you are a perfectionist, if you are a people pleaser, you know exactly how those things affect your time boundaries. First of all, you don't set time boundaries, you exceed them, and then you're not really satisfied with the result and oftentimes this unholy trinity shows up like a three. First, you procrastinate and you don't start the task until the last possible second. Then once you finally get going on it, you perseverate about it, you obsess about it, you apply perfectionistic standards to it, so you're never quite finished, and then once you finally do hand it off to your team member, your client, or whoever has desperately been waiting for it, you're constantly second guessing yourself if it was good enough. These are perfect examples of time boundaries that have been violated.

So what I recommend is three things for this first of our five types of boundaries you need in your business. When it comes to time, always try to act with intention, whether that means time blocking, whether that means batching, whether that means theme days or all of the when you need to do something, put it on your fricking calendar. I am not kidding. Yes, you know, you need to do it. Put it on your calendar. You can train your brain to see anything on the calendar as an appointment and call that a necessity. I noticed that people they break promises they make to themselves a lot more frequently than they break promises they make to others. So I encourage people to put important things on their calendar and consider it an appointment with another person. You don't wanna disappoint them. Yes, I know you're kind of fooling yourself, but you'd be amazed how well it works. Then set a time limit, decide the amount of time you are going to give this particular and it could be any kind of task. It could be writing your show notes for a podcast episode. It could be writing your email to send out to your list this week. It could be a sales page. It could be content for a new mini course you're putting together. It could be anything. It could even be an email that you need to send to someone to initiate a difficult conversation you've been.

Whatever it may be, set a time limit, set the amount of time that you think you actually need, and then reduce it by about 10%. What I have found is based on the principle that the more time we have, the more time we think we need. If you give yourself just a little bit less time on the schedule, then you actually need to complete the task, it will help you focus, it will help you finish, and it will help you fly past those inner voices and negative thoughts that will only derail you and make it take twice as long. And then Focus Mate, for those who are not familiar, Focus Mate is what a lot of people refer to as body doubling and what it really is, is you are make an appointment to go log in to their website for either a half an hour or an hour at a specific day in a specific time for the specific purpose of getting something done. It doesn't matter what it is, it could be paying your bills or folding your laundry. It really doesn't matter. It could be, you know, calling in all your prescriptions to the pharmacy. It could be a dog training session in your kitchen, whatever it is that you're not getting done because you don't have accountability. You schedule a Focus Mate session. You check in briefly with the other person who is agreed to be your accountability partner. They check in with you, you say, this is what I'm gonna do. They say, this is what I'm gonna do and you turn off your audio and you do it.

AM but it's:

In fact, even if you are physically or emotionally ill, you still need to work. If your energy is impaired because of an illness and you're not taking care of it, obviously you don't need me to tell you take care of yourself, but most people notice that their energy varies. It varies at the time of day, it varies based on where they are in their menstrual cycle, if they're female. It varies during the different stages of life And when we're really excited about something, we're really looking forward to something, I mean, don't you remember when you were a kid and it was the first day of spring break, Oh my gosh, you had so much energy, even if you hardly slept the night before. But the night before, it was time to go back after a break, you had zero energy and of course the morning of school starting, unless you love school like I did, I always woke up full of energy on the first day of school cuz I love to learn and I still do. But your energy can be managed and you need to have boundaries in place in order to protect your energy. The reason why is that your energy is kind of set and if you do not respect your energy settings, you're probably going to either exceed your bandwidth, which means you're gonna over commit, you're gonna overschedule, you're gonna over promise, you're gonna over deliver. You see the theme here, you're gonna fricking overdo it, and when you overdo it, this is one of the fastest and most reliable ways I know to put your ass on the track to burnout.

On the other side of the equation, if you do not respect your energetic boundaries, you might not expect enough of yourself, you might set your expectations too low. You might think, Oh, I'm never gonna be able to finish that in time, so I'm not gonna try. And that can become quite the self-fulfilling prophecy if you've ever had a conversation with yourself around imposter syndrome or self-sabotage, then you are probably queuing into what I'm dishing out right now, because oftentimes we will talk ourselves out of doing something when we don't think we're going to be able to do it successfully. So what do I recommend we do instead in order to an appropriate and healthy energy boundary in our business well, it starts with self-awareness. It doesn't matter what any other entrepreneur is doing in their business or in their life. It doesn't matter if you are having a serious case of FOMO or flat out envy because you see someone else in this past year has launched a podcast, written a book, created a course, and quadrupled their Instagram follow. They're not you, you're not them, look away.

Because one thing I have learned the hard way, like almost everything I've learned in this lifetime, is that my energy has really very little to do with anyone else's. And while I do admit to occasionally having the thought, Oh, I wish I'd figured this out when I was younger, or, Oh, I wish I had started on this entrepreneurial journey at an earlier time in my life because then I'd be further along, then I'd be able to do more, then I'd have more energy. All of that is just a form of negative self-talk because it does not change the actual reality that I am where I am and you are where you are. So what do you need to take into account to determine where your boundaries belong when it comes energy, to be honest with yourself about your actual bandwidth. I have spoken about this before, but what I've learned about my energy and my bandwidth at this stage of life is that I like to go to bed early. I like to wake up early. I work for a number of hours, and then I take about a three hour break in the middle of the day. I eat a meal, I do some reading, and I take a nap every single day. That recharges me, that re-energizes me, that kind of reboots my brain and my body, and then I can go for another few hours of work in the afternoon. It's kind of like my very own self-made swing shift or split shift, I guess is what it's called, that works for me.

You may be a nursing mom who's not getting a lot of sleep at night. You may be a retiree who's got an encore entrepreneurship adventure. You might have a medical or a mental health condition that affects your energy or take medications for something that affects your energy. We have to deal with who we really are and how we really are to be able to set boundaries in the appropriate place. And the other thing to take into account is that if you have other obligations, whether you are caring for an aging parent, you are the primary breadwinner or you are a dog mama who has a brand new litter of puppies or even a single puppy. I have a 12 week old puppy in the household right now, and let me just tell you, that is a big energy expenditure that I didn't have just a few weeks ago when I only had senior dogs so everything counts. Everything matters. Everything needs to be thrown into the equation and it's an organic process. It's an ongoing dynamic thing, these boundaries. So when your bandwidth changes or when your energy demands change, you need to make those adjustments. Now, how do you know whether you need to make any changes in the area of energy and boundaries?

Well, nobody likes this suggestion, so I'm not gonna beat around the bush, I'm just gonna get straight to it. You do a time and energy study for one week. I used to ask people to do it for two weeks because some weeks just are outliers, they're not like the others. And with two weeks of data, you really get a feel for the person's life but it's a hard sell cuz nobody really wants to do it. I will tell you though, doing a time and energy study, a time and energy inventory, a time study, it's called all kinds of different names, ridiculously helpful in determining how much you can actually get versus how much you are expecting of yourself, and again, when it comes to burnout, believing that you should be getting a lot more done than you are actually capable of doing absolutely defeats, depletes, discourages, depresses, and will put you on that fast track bandwagon to burnout. So let's figure out what you're actually able to do with the energy, the demands, the commitments, the obligations you have, and adjust your boundaries accordingly so that you protect that energy, right?

Like I know when my prime time, I know that I have my rest period in the middle of the day, and yes, I do turn down invitations to speak and even potential clients if the only time they can meet with me is during that middle of the day time period. I used to try to negotiate this stuff with myself, and I used to think, Oh, it's just one person, or, Oh, it's just one podcast interview. I don't do it anymore. Making exceptions to the rules we make for ourselves for our own good, otherwise known as boundaries, it's never really a good idea. Because your brain either gets adjusted to the rules or gets adjusted to the exceptions, and brains are very tricky once your brain knows you'll make exceptions, don't be surprised if it doesn't respect your boundaries. It's kind of like a small kid when you think about it. Okay anyway, onto the next one. Ready for number three?

Okay the third type of boundary you need in your business is money. Money, money, money, honey. And you probably thought I was gonna say money first, but I kinda like to warm up to the tough stuff. I have so many women tell me they're investing in their business by working with coaches and consultants and buying courses and enrolling in masterminds and all kinds of certification programs, but I think that there's a big, big, big difference between investing, spending and wasting, and I'm sorry to say this, but a lot of us are just not being honest with ourselves about, which is what, it's very popular these days to talk about investing in your business, but you don't have to drill down too many levels to find out the person who's investing in their business isn't making any money in their business, that's what I call a sinkhole. Now, it's true we all need to spend in the beginning because if you're coming from zero skills and zero familiarity, you don't know the tech, you don't know market research, you don't know how to do any of the things you have to do, of course you need to learn. But this idea of investing in your business and some are investing large sums of money, I don't actually consider that investing. I think that you can really end up spending, and in many cases, wasting because you're upside down.

Now, I am not talking about spending money to make money we've certainly all heard that it's not a new expression, and oftentimes you need to invest in things to get a business going. For example, if you've got a rickety old laptop and you need to be able to run group coaching calls on Zoom, you're gonna have to buy a better machine, but that's a business necessity. You don't need to buy anything and everything out there, and you sure don't need to follow all your friends into every group program that you're not gonna be ready for for years, if ever. So we need to be careful about investing in our business as a way of feeling legitimate as a business owner. What makes you legitimate as a business owner is not spending money on courses and programs. What makes you legitimate as a business owner is having a product or service, a price and someone you've sold it to. Yep, it's really that simple.

Most people do way too much on the front end, and they're playing catch up for years on the back end to try to bring some profit out of it because they invested in things that they really didn't need to invest in, and I don't consider that investment, unfortunately. Oftentimes it turns out to be wasting, and believe me when I say I have done it myself. It's a very seductive thing that's going on I think especially in the coaching industry and in the world of online marketing, this notion of entrepreneurship being, you know, so hot, so sexy, so glamorous, and this notion of investing in ourselves and investing in our business so that we'll have a better business. You have to have a business first before you can make it a better business, and you should do it on the cheap in the that it has some hope of being profitable. The more you are, quote unquote, investing in the business before you make your first dime or dollar, the longer it's gonna take for you to turn a profit. And if you are not profitable, I'm sorry, you do not have a business, you have a hobby and probably a very expensive hobby.

Now, does that mean that I don't think you should ever invest? I don't think you should ever spend, I don't think you should buy enroll or in anything before you make your first sale? No, I am not one for absolutes, I am not one for black and white thinking, and I am not one for making grandiose proclamations at least I try not to. But I do think as much as I do not agree with endorse support, advise people to buy all these things and enroll in all these things before they've started or as they're starting or before they've had a single customer or client, I also think on the other side that there is a very high cost to freedom information. What do I mean by that? I think we need to be more honest with ourselves about all the freebies that we've collected and all the low priced information and information products we have collected. And so, and the reason why I say that is this is a boundary on the other end, I think when it comes to money, we need a boundary on the upper end, and we need a boundary on the lower end, the boundary on the upper end is you're not going to have a profitable business if you over invest and if you are specifically investing in order to feel more legitimate and to surround yourself with other people who are doing the same thing so that it feels okay, you know, on some level it isn't right I mean, you know that.

But on the other end, if you are not spending any money on anything and you are legitimately hoping to put together, a standout sought after business with absolutely no financial investment that's gonna be really hard, and the reason why is that everybody has drank the same Kool-Aid. Everybody who's giving you something for nothing is doing so in the hopes that you will develop a relationship with them. That you will start to see them as a trusted resource that you will come to rely on their information and advice and that will nurture, that's the word that will start to nurture you towards paying them. I am not cynical, I'm practical. Everybody who's given you a free anything from a free pdf, a free digital download, a free video course, whatever it is, they did so in the hopes that through the law of reciprocity, you would one day hope to pay them, period. And even though there are a few coaches out there who are telling their people, give away your best stuff. Give all your best stuff because when you give your best stuff away, people will think, Wow, this free stuff is so good. I wonder how good the paid stuff is well, it's gonna be the same stuff. Trust me, I've been down that road, but it's based on the same principle.

The problem is that nobody built a business that is profitable, standout, sought after, successful and sustainable exclusively from free information. Because usually you're just getting step one like if somebody wants you to buy their book, they will send you the first chapter. And usually half of the first chapter is what other people say about how great the book is. It's really kind of useless, but that's a typical strategy or they're gonna give you the first step to a journey well, once you get started, you're gonna get stranded if you don't know what the next step and the next step and the next step is, or they're gonna give you a list of things you need to do, but you won't have any idea how to execute them, or they're gonna tell you this is what you need to do step by step, knowing full well without any accountability or support, you're not gonna get there anyway. So the point is this, you need to set a boundary around your money and not over invest in a business that's not yet making any money. You do not need to buy more things to feel legitimate, decide that you're legitimate now, and go sell something to somebody and trust me, you will feel more legitimate after that. And then do it again and on the lower end, stop signing up for all the free shit. Stop, I promise you, I don't even know you well, I know some of you, but you don't need more free shit, it's FOMO.

FOMO is the reason that you are collecting all this free shit, and frankly, I mean, who doesn't like free shit, right? I cannot tell you how many free samples of things I have eaten back in the day when we used to go to the mall and they would hand out the free samples, I cannot tell you how many times I opened my mouth for that little morsel or that little thing on a toothpick. I wasn't even hungry. I didn't even want it, but it was free right. So, I get it, I get it. We are all susceptible to wanting free stuff and frankly, it's the industry standard. So, you know, you're taking the free stuff cuz everybody's taking the free stuff. But I am telling you this, that it's not going to move your game piece. And I say this because I have done the same and it was a huge waste of time, which meant I violated my own standards, my own values, my own goals, and I was being a cheepos. Have you heard this expression freeples and cheepos are people who sign up for only the free stuff. They're never going anywhere, trust me and cheepos will only sign up for the stuff when it's and then we're told. But if you sell them something for a little bit, then later you can sell them for something more well, maybe some of 'em, some people are just more cautious and they wanna test something with a little bit first before they buy more but there are people who will always be cheaps. They will never, ever, ever buy your more expensive thing if you're one of them. Okay you know where I stand?

So what you do, another audit, I know, I know. I asked you to do an energy audit and now I'm asking you to do a money audit, but this one will be really quick and you will not have to do it for an entire week. Here's how you do it, you set aside like, I think you can do this in 20 minutes, right? If you've gone like way the hell overboard, you might need more than that, but most of us, I think can do it in 20 minutes. So what you're gonna do is you are going to take an audit of all the subscriptions you've signed up for, they're probably all in your spam or your trash folder. So you just look at the number of items in there and you can take a shortcut that way. And once you've seen how many subscriptions you have got, ask yourself how many you actually read on a regular basis. How many people's emails do you actually open and I do hope mine is one of them, trust me. But you know what, I periodically unsubscribe a whole bunch at one time. I have a notation on my calendar every quarter I do an audit of all of my subscriptions, and I unsubscribe to every single one that I have not opened in the last quarter. Because when they're in your inbox and you don't read, you're gonna feel bad.

As a matter of fact, it's an energy drain. Remember the energy boundary we talked about a few minutes ago, okay energy leaks and energy drains are the things that we allow to be in our businesses and in our lives that shouldn't be there anymore. And every time we look at them, every time we notice them, every time we think about them, we feel bad. We feel guilty. We feel lazy, we feel stupid, we feel impulsive there's all kinds of judgy shit going on, so just get rid of 'em. So your action item for the money boundary is to do an audit of all of your subscriptions and if you're really feeling bold, you're really feeling brave do another one for all the courses you've bought. Courses of any price, like from the $27 on up to the $20,000 if they're out there. I know there's at least $2,000 courses, I don't know, about 20, maybe I'm exaggerating. But anyway, do an audit of all the courses you've bought and then ask yourself the hard question how many of these have I completed? How many of these have I even even opened and what has the ROI been? What is the return on investment? Can I even remember anything I learned from this one or that one?

Now I wanna be very clear, my point in this episode in all of my solo episodes is not to make you feel like an ass hat. I'm sure you are plenty capable of feeling that way without any assistance from me. I know I am, it's because I want to see you moving forward and not sidetracked, sidelined, side swiped, spinning your wheels, sabotaging your success, or doubting that you have what it takes to own your own business. These boundary violations are traps. That's all they are, they're traps. They're like, you know, potholes in the street. If you can see them for what they are, you can drive around or hey, maybe take a different street. But if you don't know they're there, you will fall into them again and again and again, and you will blame yourself. And I know this because I see this in my coaching clients every single day, and I have seen it in myself. All right, you ready for number four, people ooh, this one's a biggie. We need boundaries in our business when it comes to people, and I mean all kinds of people.

First of all, starting with ourselves when we lack the self-awareness about what our temptations are, whether it's social media, procrastination, avoidance, shiny object syndrome, changing our mind, starting over. We need boundaries with ourselves as the first and most important person in our business we need boundaries with, but what comes after that? Friends, family, clients, team members, whether they're employees, contractors, virtuals, ad hoc, project based and our network. What I find is that most women and most entrepreneurs, and most specifically women entrepreneurs tend to have a default yes, let's face it. We are culturally conditioned to be people pleasers even if we're introverted and maybe even a little antisocial, we kind of know that when people ask us to do something that they're looking for a yes. And if somebody pitches us because they wanna be a guest on our podcast, or they pitch us because they want us to participate in their online summit, or they pitch us because they want us to collaborate or teach a class to their membership or whatever, whatever, whatever, you know the answer supposed to be yes. You know, they're looking for a yes. You know they're expecting a yes, and you know they're gonna be disappointed if they don't get a yes. And there's an excellent chance that you're gonna give them one. Because let's face it, and I talk about this all the time, yes just feels easier and it feels more comfortable.

It makes the other person happy, it gets you off this the hot seat and it always seems like it's just not that big a deal. I have been a compulsive over committer all of my life, and it has taken me this long to finally be much more careful about what I say yes to. And even though I say yes to a lot fewer things than I used to, I still get it wrong sometimes because someone I really like asks me or because someone I just met and I really like them instantly. And of course I wanna make them happy and I wanna spend more time with them and I wanna get to know 'em better. So I still do mess up on this sometimes and I really do hate having to circle back and say, I know I said yes, but I need to switch that yes to no and I know you're disappointed and I'm disappointed in myself because I didn't plan well enough to be able to honor that yes, I'm so sorry. Is that uncomfortable yeah, but you can do it. You can learn to do it. I mean, I don't know if you thought I sounded like a big old jerk right now, but like I thought I sounded pretty sincere because I have learned I really should not over commit.

I really do need boundaries in my business around all those kinds of people. Let's run them from the top again, boundaries with myself, because I always think I have more time, more energy, more bandwidth, more potential than I actually do. Some people call it time blindness, especially in the ADHD world. I call it time optimism because I always think I have more time than I do. I do not, and I don't like disappointing people so in this respect, it's both a time boundary and a people boundary. I have learned that I can only have so many people in my life as close friends because close friends need to be nurtured. They need to be supported, they need quality time. They need, you know, frequent time and if I'm already feeling pretty tapped out, I got no business trolling for new friends because I will most certainly disappoint them. You may know this about yourself as well. You may know that you really do not enjoy doing one to one work with clients because it feels too demanding for you That's a boundary you need to set for yourself.

You may know that you find it really very, very exciting to work with a very large group of people, but then you're exhausted for three days afterwards, take that into account. I use a screening process in my business because I have developed the awareness of what kinds of clients are red flag clients, pink flag clients, and white flag clients. Oh, I dunno if I have shared that before everybody knows who red flag is, right? That's a nightmare fricking client that you do not want to let into your business and once they get in there, you gotta get 'em out like, like an exterminator gets rid of termites. Pink flags are things that might be a problem but you're willing to give it a try and set very clear boundaries and communicate very clear expectations with that person. And a white flag is someone who's basically looking to be rescued from themselves, and I've learned how to identify them from the get-go. Sometimes people jump into this you know, business thing, I'm gonna have a business looks so cool to have a business.

Everybody's starting a business, I want a business too and then they jump in and of course they invest in too many things and then their business, such as it is, is a total hot mess. They have no idea what they're doing. They have suddenly realized that they're not making money and their partner is upset with them because of all the credit card charges for all the courses and all the things and all the retreats, and now they need to turn that business around and make it profitable like overnight. So they're looking for someone to rescue them, that's not me. In fact, I don't even have a valid CPR card anymore, I'm not in that line of work, so I try to avoid pink flags. I don't know, sometimes that's a maybe but I think each of us needs to have some very clear ideas about what kinds of people problems are we particularly susceptible to.

Like if you're the kind of person who has supreme boundaries with clients and with your team, any interruption or need a request of any kind on any level from anyone who's in the family category, and you throw yourself under the bus six ways from Sunday, that's really helpful to know. That's really helpful to know, and you may be the kind of person who has really, really tight boundaries with friends and family and team but you give your all to your clients and you have yourself convinced that because you have a quote unquote high touch business, you can't have boundaries around your time, energy, effort, or availability with those clients. I disagree, I think we must have boundaries because the alternative is we overcommit, we eventually resent them and we eventually blame them for the burnout that we will most certainly one day feel and it starts with scope creep. It starts with scope creep, and it starts with making exceptions, which in and of themselves always seem so minor, so insignificant and it actually makes us feel like we're a good person when we make them because of the law of reciprocity, it's a slippery slope.

So I think what really helps is to do that analysis of ourselves, make a list of what let you can just start with one group of people. Let's make this easy peasy because I know this probably sounds like a fuck ton of work, and I get it, but I want your business to bring you joy, and I want it to bring you profit and power and purpose and peace of mind, and I think it can. I really believe it can, but we need to be able and willing to look at where we are missing boundaries, where our boundaries are weak and flabby and flacid and just need to be firmed up. And we start by being really honest with ourselves about time, energy, money, and people that we probably need to make some adjustments with. Wo before I move on to our final category, I want you to do two things. One, define what would be a red flag client for you, what would be a pink flag, and what would be a white flag so that you recognize them before they get a chance to hire you. And the second thing is I want you to think about all the clients that you're working with right now and identify in each case, what was the agreed upon scope of work and where have you exceeded it without making adjustments and compensation?

So for example, let's say somebody hired you to build a simple one page website, and once you got into the work with them, you ended up creating a five page website and you didn't get any more money for it. And there's all kinds of reasons why we do things like this but as always, for me, change starts with self-awareness. Okay, here's our last area, effort. Okay effort refers to, we need boundaries around our effort in three areas. One, we need to be mindful of our numbers. I recently became friends with someone who is really an expert in the area of money and specifically helping female business owners be profitable and we talked about the fact that so many women really don't mind their numbers. They are really not paying attention to their bottom line and I, for one, do not believe in this artificial distinction, this artificial binary, this artificial dichotomy between people who wanna make a difference and people who wanna make money. I think we need to do both or we do not actually have a business, so we need to mind our numbers. So you need to take a look at your expenses and your income, and also, are they trending up, trending down, or staying even.

The other thing I want you to take a look at is your return on investment. Think about the items that you are buying, the subscriptions, the memberships, the investments, the things that you signed up for because you thought they would help you move the needle, see how long you've been paying for them, and then ask yourself, how many steps forward on the game board have I actually moved as a result of this thing? I regularly reassess the things that I have because I'm always the eternal optimist. I always start off a new relationship, whether it's with another person or a piece of technology, and I always think it's going to be wonderful, and sooner or later I realize, yeah, there are things that are good and things that are not so good, but I'm never unwilling to change when I no longer believe the thing that I'm using in my business is not actually returning on the investment. I'm not impulsive anymore I don’t pull it out immediately. I give it time, but I'm not afraid to break company with things that I'm using in my business because I bought 'em for a reason and I bought them to help me and if they're not helping me, I need to reassess and I encourage you to do the same.

Two other areas around your effort that I want you to take a look at are, how much time are you spending learning versus doing, ooh, this is a tricky one. Most of us, especially in the area of coaching or online business, most of us are spending way too much effort to learn and considerably less effort to execute. I encourage my clients, I encourage myself, and I encourage you as a listener of this podcast, flip the script for every hour you spend learning, spend two hours doing it will absolutely transform your business and your life if you do one thing based on listening to this podcast episode, and I hope you're still with me because I think this may be the most important thing, flip the amount of effort that you spend between learning and doing in favor of the doing, it will absolutely get you further along. One way to know, think about how much time you spend every day consuming content, watching TikTok videos, listening to podcasts, even terrific ones like this, reading blog posts, reading other people's books, watching YouTube videos, scrolling through Instagram reels, looking newsletters on LinkedIn.

Are you creating or are you consuming? The two big things to flip our focus on more, doing less learning, more creating, less consuming. So I'm wrapping this up, but before I do, I wanna tell you that there's two reasons why I talk about boundaries so, so much, and I'm never gonna stop. So if you have heard enough about boundaries, we may have to park company here and but I talk about it all the time because the bottom line, actually, two bottom lines. One, better boundaries prevent burnout, and nobody goes into business to burnout. And two better boundaries boost your bottom line. So if you can improve your profitability while reducing your risk for burnout, by improving your business boundaries, why wouldn't you?

You don't have to do all five of these areas, pick one time, energy, money, people, or effort. I'll include the suggestions and links to the resources I've mentioned in the show notes. And if you really, really like this topic and you really are ready to go a little deeper, I want to announce that I am actually right now working on creating an audio course specifically for business owners on the topic of boundaries. So stay tuned for more information on that, it will be coming up soon, and it's my very first audio only course, and I'm first gonna offer it to my podcast listeners because we already know you like audio and you like what I have to say on audio. So stay tuned, more to come on that. I hope this has been helpful, now go out and take some action.