Small Business: 4 Tips for Setting (and Enforcing) Boundaries

Boundaries can seem like rigid walls meant to keep others out. But healthy boundaries are vital for maintaining work-life balance, good mental health, and positive relationships– with family, friends, customers, business partners, and everyone else around you.

Clear boundaries serve two important functions:

1) Letting others know what you expect from them

2) Letting others know what to expect from you

Here are a few tips for setting boundaries as a business owner so you can live a happier, healthier life and get more of what you want from others.

Start Small

If you don’t already have boundaries in place, it can feel intimidating– or outright impossible– to start implementing them. Just start with one or two and build from there.

If you get pushback, just kindly explain that your goal is to be a better friend, partner, leader, etc, and you’ve learned that setting boundaries is an effective way to “be there” the right way for others.

Choose Your Work Hours

We all know that business owners can never be truly off the clock.

Or can they?

While you may not be able to take a traditional 9-to-5 workday, you can set clear expectations around your availability for certain things. For example, you can decide not to schedule meetings before 9am. If someone tries to schedule a meeting with you during that time, just tell them you are unavailable. It’s as simple as that.

Similarly, you can let your team know not to text or call you after 7pm (except for emergencies).

Meet When and Where It’s Convenient for You

Just because you can fit a meeting in doesn’t always mean you should. Why rush across town, or arrive feeling rushed, when you don’t have to? Taking an extra moment to ask the other party to accommodate your schedule can result in a lot less stress for you.

Example: “Nine o’ clock isn’t great for me. Are you available later in the day?”

Similarly, you can ask to meet at a closer or more convenient location if the initial location suggested requires going far out of your way.

Example: “Could we meet at the cafe on Fifth?”

Note that you don’t need to explain the reason for your preferences. Just ask.

The best that can happen? The other person will agree immediately. The worst that can happen? You’ll find out that they’re not available at that time, and you can ask to meet on a different day.

Say No with Kindness

People appreciate a clear “No” much more than a “Let me think about it and get back to you” followed by ghosting.

Luckily, you don’t have to be mean or cold. Take this example from the professional speaking world:

“Thank you so much for offering me this speaking opportunity. It sounds like it aligns perfectly with my expertise and the type of event I look for. I’m afraid I can’t take on any additional commitments at the moment, but I’d be delighted to participate at next year’s event.”

You’ve told them no while also showing appreciation for their efforts and opening the door to future opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Boundaries can vary in different situations. You may be stricter at work than at home about certain things, and vice versa. The important thing is to set boundaries that protect your wellbeing, align with your values, and make it clear to others what your expectations are.

More often than not, you’ll find that the people in your life (or at least, the important ones) will respect your requests and appreciate knowing how to give you what you need.

Want to Join a Supportive Community?

EnrichHER is here to support you on your journey. We provide a community of founders from various industries who understand the challenges and joys of entrepreneurship. This diverse community can offer advice, emotional support, and connections to help you take your business to the next level– and it’s only a click away.

Sound like the right community for you? Join EnrichHER’s Founder LinkedIn Group here.

About EnrichHER:

EnrichHER is a financial technology platform that matches revenue-generating companies led by women and founders of color to individual and institutional sources of funding. Since 2017, EnrichHER has deployed upwards of $4 million through its platform and matched business-owners to $13 million in working capital through its Accelerator. By providing capital, coaching, and connections, we are fueling the fastest-growing demographic of business owners. Our network has engaged with over 23,000 advocates through its digital community and in-person activations.

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