Would it surprise you if I said that my biggest issue when I worked in my corporate job was not actually selling more stuff… but setting clear business boundaries?

Given how I show up online now – and how firm I can be (just ask my other half!) on certain things, it often surprises people to realise that I used to be a ‘Yes’ person. And not the good kind.

I was on a one woman mission to show the world that I could be super-human… and that there was no task that I couldn’t or wouldn’t complete.

It meant that I was;

  • Always saying yes to opportunities/ meetings/ extra responsibilities at home and at work – even when I really wanted to say no.
  • Constantly chasing my tail for time… I had back to back meetings in booked in that I just couldn’t change. Not to mention evening engagements with clients, friends and colleagues that I couldn’t escape. My diary was constantly full – and I always felt like I was on the back foot…
  • Overwhelmed, frustrated – and always saying to myself ‘If only I had more time” or ‘If I’d just said no” or ‘For Christ’s sake, why can’t someone else just do it?!’

The truth was, that I’d tried to make myself indispensable. I never wanted to disappoint anyone – so I felt like saying YES to all of their needs was easier than trying to justify why I didn’t want to do something/ couldn’t make the party/ didn’t want to take on the extra job for no extra pay.

It sounds crazy doesn’t it? After all, who lives their life to run around making everyone else feel good and helping them all do less work?! It came as no surprise in 2014, when I was diagnosed with M.E and severe burnout, that I wept to my doctor about how I was ‘so bloody tired of doing everything for everyone and getting nothing back’.

But, since starting my online business, I’ve realised just how common it is for women to feel bad about setting clear boundaries. Especially those who work in service based businesses who want to help other people. It’s so easy to get caught up in helping others – that we often put ourselves last… and that doesn’t help you build the business that you really want or build the life that you want to live either.

So if you’re a female business owner who’s tired of clients disrespecting your boundaries; paying late, rescheduling calls at the very last minute, trying to harvest clients from your communities… then these are the top 3 tips that I can give you to save your sanity – and stop you saying yes to things that don’t serve you. Without sounding or feeling like a total B-I-T-C-H.

(Just bear in mind – setting boundaries takes steel ovaries. And the first few times you do it – it will feel uncomfortable. But you’ll soon be rocking those conversations and feeling much happier!)

  • No Is A Full Sentence.
    One of the things that used to really stress me out about saying ‘no’ to people, was worrying about how to justify why I was saying no. The thing is, the more justification you give, the more room the other person has to try and twist your arm – and get you to do what they want.These days, I just say ‘no’ or ‘no thank you’ and find that it works perfectly. If someone asks ‘why not’, I tend to smile and say ‘It doesn’t matter – the answer is still going to be no all the same. Is there anything else you need?”
  • Set Clear Time Boundaries.
    If you don’t value your time, no-one else will. So it’s your job to make sure that you’re using your time in the best way.Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally run over on a client call with someone who really needs a few extra minutes – but if you’re constantly running over with certain clients, it’s time to follow the process;
    – Set the new boundary “We seem to be running over time on a lot of calls – and our calls are set to a maximum of 45 minutes. So I’d like you to make sure that you’re filling out the pre-session questionnaire so that we can finish on time”
    – Adhere to the new boundary “Ahh – that’s the end of our session today [NAME]. If you’ve got any other questions, make sure you email them to me between our calls and I can help you there.”
    – Thank them for understanding (assumptively!) “Thanks for helping me stick to my boundaries [NAME], I know that it’ll also be useful to you setting your standard for your future clients too”.
  • Assess What You Really Want.
    No-one can adhere to your boundaries if you don’t know what you really want – or refuse to stick to them. Make a clear list of the non-negotiables that you want to introduce into your business – and stick to it!

Now – you might be thinking ‘Jess – this is all well and good for new clients… but what about the ones I already have who keep defaulting on payments/ cancelling calls/ taking the mickey? How do I sort them out?”

Simple! I’ve popped together a complete Bossing Your Business Swipe File of responses that gives you super easy to implement responses to all types of tough business situations!

So if you’ve got a client who suddenly stops paying… or someone who repeatedly books discovery calls but never shows up… or even a client who messages/ calls you at all times of the day and just needs to be politely told to stop… then there’s a script for you!

Go and grab your Bossing Your Business Swipe File and start setting the best boundaries for you – and start loving your business all over again!

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