Let’s face it: most women entrepreneurs don’t have great boundaries, but they really know about how creating paycheck stubs for their business.
As women, we tend toward accommodating others. We want to help. We want people to feel comfortable. We want them to have exactly what they want. Sometimes, we bend over backwards for people and then wonder why the heck we even did that.
And as valiant and kind as we think this behavior may be, we end up sacrificing our own needs for the needs of others.
And believe it or not, we end up hurting others too.
As Brene Brown says,
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
In other words, when we don’t have good boundaries, we end up feeling bitter and then acting from that place of anger. And it hurts the people we intended to help in the first place.
So what does this all have to do with your business?
I often talk about “energy leaks” in your business. These are essentially poor boundaries that end up draining you, causing you to feel tired, unhappy and be less productive and successful in your business.
But when you plug these energy leaks – when you create stronger boundaries – you’ll feel stronger, more aligned, more powerful, and have much more capacity to do your work with ease.
So what are these energy leaks (there are four of them) and how do you know if yours need some energetic plumbing assistance?
1. Do you ever work with people you don’t like or who aren’t a great fit? Do you say yes to projects that make you want to tear your hair out?
If you answered yes, or even “occasionally,” to this question, then you have some boundaries issues involving your niche. Your niche is not only essential in the marketplace (it’s key to you standing out, calling in the right clients and making money), it’s also key for your own boundaries.
Your niche clarifies who you work with and what exactly you help those people with. Inherently, it also shows you who you DON’T work with and what kinds of work you DON’T do.
So if you find yourself unhappy with your clients and the type of work you’re doing, it’s time to tighten up your niche boundary. It’s time to let go of clients who don’t light you up and totally appreciate you. And it’s time to stop doing work that isn’t in your genius zone. Even if you’re good at it!
Or, perhaps you are super clear on the type of client you work with, but you still say yes to problem clients occasionally, people who ask too much or are hesitant to pay your full rates.
Now, look, if you are making all your money from people and projects you don’t really like, I’m not going to say quit it all cold turkey, as that would be financially irresponsible. But clarify your niche, and let it be your north star. Find new clients who do fit inside your niche, and slowly start letting go of all the old ones as you create the NEW version of your business (the one that has really good boundaries).
2. Do you ever feel like you should be earning more money than you are? Or that a client needs to be paying you way more for the amount of work you’re doing for them? Ever feel bitter after completing some work because the client isn’t paying you enough?
If this is your challenge, then you need to raise your rates. Think about why you keep your prices low: Do you undervalue your services? Yourself? Do you fear that people won’t hire you if you charge more? That your existing clients will all leave when you raise your rates?
It is well worth the time to explore the reasons you keep yourself from earning more money (I love Barbara Stanny’s book, Overcoming Underearning).
And, the short version is this… if you want to build a business that truly nourishes you, you have to charge a rate that feels GOOD to you. Like when they hand over the cash, something inside of you softens, opens and feels truly grateful.
Especially if you are AWARE that your rates are low, I ask you to play a little intuitive game with yourself. Close your eyes and bump up your rate to the place where it feels slightly edgy and very exciting. Then go on your website and change it right now.
When you are nourished financially, you are better able to take care of everyone in your life.
3. Do you ever schedule clients over your workout or family time? Work through dinner? Wake up super early to accommodate a client overseas (even though you are crap for brains at 7AM)?
Ok, friend – if this is you, it’s time to create your Self-Care-First Schedule. I teach all about this in my programs, but here’s the gist:
Get clear on what you need each year, month, week and day to feel rested, replenished, supported and full. Put actual time blocks in your calendar.
Then, get clear on what your work hours are and put those in your calendar. Finally, create time when you see clients and when you don’t.
Can you make exceptions? Of course. You can make exceptions on any of these if it feels right to you. No need to be rigid. But you have to start with a schedule, and an intention to keep to it, in order to honor your time and energy.
I’ll bet you’re a better practitioner too when you’re not seeing too many clients in a row, or at way too late or early times of day.
And 99% of people will totally respect this boundary. And for that 1%? Honestly, screw ‘em (or make an exception if you TRULY feel good doing it).
4. Do you ever feel like you need to do more work for your clients so that they get their money’s worth? Do you regularly go above and beyond what you committed to because you feel you need to “hang on” your clients? Did you ever raise your rates but then just increase the amount of services you offer (so that it wasn’t really a rate raise at all)?
This last one is a little more subtle. It’s about over-giving energetically. But some of us are so used to over-giving we can’t even see we’re doing it.
Pay close attention to your emotions around your work with clients. For example, if you have feelings of fear or anxiety about whether clients will hire you or continue to work with them if you are not giving them everything you’ve got, NOTICE THAT.
The vast majority of the time, this is our own scarcity stuff. Our clients don’t need us to do a million things for them at any time of day. We are the ones who give more and more and more, sometimes even overwhelming our clients!
Now if you’re saying, Julie, actually my clients DO need a million things at any time of day. And let’s say this is a real expectation – you’re working with an exec of a Fortune 500 company for example – well then guess what!? You need to charge enough money for this service that you DON’T feel like you’re over-giving.
Here’s the key… the energy output has to match the money input. Simple as that.
And sometimes, there is not enough money in the world to make a particular thing feel good to you. Pay attention to that, too (and then make sure to narrow your niche to exclude it completely).
Creating better boundaries is not easy!! But it’s necessary if you want to sustain yourself in your business over time without getting totally resentful and burnt out.